Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Ministers’ role in pro-junta party ‘worrying’

Sep 30. 2018
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By THE NATION

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POLITICIANS voiced concern over possible favouritism and discrimination in the political campaign after some of the current Cabinet members joined as members of the pro-junta Palang Pracharath while continuing in office.

The Cabinet members should step down from power to avoid actions favouring their own party, political observers said.

The reaction came after Palang Pracharath on Saturday elected Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana as its leader and Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong as secretary-general.

Several other members connected to the ruling regime under the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), such as PM’s Office Minister Kobsak Pootrakool and Science and Technology Minister Suvit Maesincee, also joined the party.

Ongart Klampaiboon, deputy leader of Democrat Party, said yesterday he was most concerned that the four ministers or anyone working in the government could exploit their powers for their own political gains.

“The upcoming election is a turning point for the country. It should be well accepted by all sections of society,” he said.

However, now society can sense moves are afoot for junta head General Prayut Chan-o-cha to return to politics after the election although they had rejected this speculation, the politician said.

“If they use the power to favour themselves or their colleagues by interfering with independent agencies or gaining political popularity, there could be disillusionment and the election result may not be accepted,” he warned. Kosol Pattama, a former Pheu Thai Party MP, too, said he was worried about the election not being free and fair given the current situation.

“I’m afraid the state mechanism will be used to favour some particular group or the state resources will be used to gain advantage over other parties,” he said.

Ministers ‘must resign’

Meanwhile, former EC member Sodsri Satayathum said the four ministers should resign from their current position.

Although they were not obliged by the law, it would be the right thing to do, she said.

“Their positions could give them advantages over the others during the lead up to the election,” she said. “Some ministries, such as the Interior Ministry have the power to oversee voting. Although these ministers do not work there directly, they are connected as a colleague in the same Cabinet.”

In addition, when they go on mobile Cabinet trips, they would be in contact with local state authorities and the people; it gives them a chance to gain popularity, she explained.

Responding to the growing concern, Palang Pracharat spokesman Kobsak reiterated yesterday that party members who were now working in the Cabinet were still waiting for the right time to leave office to focus solely on the newly founded party.

Speaking also on behalf of three other ministers in the party, Kobsak insisted that they would not exploit working hours or taxpayer-funded resources to gain advantage over other parties.

“We’ll be transparent and accountable about this,” he said.

 

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