Pleas from ministers forcing Srettha to deny talk of Cabinet shakeup: source


If the Cabinet reshuffle does go ahead as speculated, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin will likely replace his Finance portfolio with that of the Defence Ministry, a source said.

The source said Srettha has no choice but to dismiss rumours of a reshuffle because many ministers who stand to lose their jobs have been repeatedly seeking to renegotiate.

The source, who is close to Srettha, said the Finance portfolio will likely go to PM’s adviser Pichai Chunhavajira. He is also expected to be promoted to deputy prime minister.

Pichai has held several prominent positions, namely as a member of the Bank of Thailand’s board of directors and director of PTT Exploration and Production. He is now serving as chairman of the board for Bangchak Corporation as well as chair of the Stock Exchange of Thailand.

Meanwhile, Paopoom Rojanasakul, who leads the ruling party’s economic team, will possibly get the deputy finance minister’s post. The plan is for him to focus on the government’s flagship 10,000-baht digital wallet scheme.

The source added that Srettha is likely to take the Defence Ministry from Sutin Klungsang, who reportedly has problems managing military affairs. Also, the source said, Srettha has closer ties with military leaders as evidenced by his reluctance to disband the Internal Security Operations Command despite demands from the opposition.

If the Cabinet is indeed reshuffled, then the former property tycoon would be the sixth Thai premier without a military background to hold the Defence portfolio.

The source said that General Natthapon Nakpanich, who served as chief of the National Security Council and is believed to have close ties with 2014 coup leader, ex-PM General Prayut Chan-o-cha, will become the new deputy defence minister.

Deputy Foreign Minister Jakkapong Sangmanee is expected to head the Prime Minister’s Office.

Meanwhile, Culture Minister Sermsak Pongpanit and Sports and Tourism Minister Sudawan Wangsuphakijkosol are expected to swap their portfolios.

There is no talk on who will fill the two ministerial positions left empty after the government filled 34 of the 36 seats available.

It is rumoured that the government will discuss the Cabinet reshuffle soon after the Songkran holidays.