Srettha says he discussed general issues with Thaksin, not Cabinet reshuffle


Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin on Tuesday denied that he discussed a possible Cabinet reshuffle with paroled former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra earlier in the day.

Srettha posted photos at 10.24am showing him paying respects and pouring Songkran water on Thaksin’s hands at the Chan Song La residence of the former prime minister.

The X (Twitter) post led to speculations that Srettha visited Thaksin to discuss changes to his Cabinet lineup. It was earlier reported that Thaksin had asked Srettha to bring the opposition Democrat Party into the ruling Pheu Thai-led coalition.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday afternoon, Srettha said he has never said he would reshuffle his Cabinet in the near future.

“As I have said, nothing. I have never said I would reshuffle the Cabinet,” Srettha said.

“You, reporters, said on your own that I would reshuffle the Cabinet one day. Don’t talk about it now. You’ll know when it happens. Please don’t make the mentioned names worried.”

Srettha said he talked about general issues with Thaksin but did not discuss politics.

“For example, I talked about the issues of corn prices, forest burning, and cleanliness of the cities. I also talked about Myanmar with him,” Srettha said.

Asked whether he would seek to pacify Cabinet members who were speculated to be removed, Srettha replied: “No. I haven’t written such reports, so I don’t have to try to reach understanding with them.

“As I have been saying during the past month of speculations on a Cabinet reshuffle, the best immunity for Cabinet members is to work in accordance with the policies of each ministry. All ministers know their ministries’ main policies well.”

Srettha says he discussed general issues with Thaksin, not Cabinet reshuffle

When asked whether other coalition partners have informed him of their wish to change their ministerial posts, Srettha replied: “The coalition partners know their rights well. I won’t call them out of the blue to ask them whether they would like to change their Cabinet lineup or not.

“But of course, the Palang Pracharath [party] has one vacant seat to fill.”

Asked whether he had any special dish while visiting Thaksin, Srettha said he has been performing intermittent fasts until noon every day, so he had only one cup of sugar-free Americano coffee.

Srettha said Thaksin didn’t give him any special advice on the country’s administration.

“We discussed general issues and exchanged information. Thaksin recounted issues during his tenure and I recounted mine to compare how the world has changed,” Srettha said.

“He then provided me moral support. He is a senior figure who has concerns for the country.”

When asked what he thought about several Cabinet members who visited Thaksin when the former prime minister celebrated Songkran in Chiang Mai, Srettha quipped: “How do you think? You must tell me what you think so I can respond. Just ask me directly.”

A reporter then told him that several members of his Cabinet visited Thaksin in Chiang Mai, and Srettha said it was a normal thing for them to do so because the ministers knew Thaksin long before him, as Thaksin was the founder of the Thai Rak Thai Party that became the Pheu Thai Party of today.

Srettha even cited the names of some of the ministers in question – Transport Minister Suriya Juangroongruangkit, Deputy Prime Minister Somsak Thepsutin, Culture Minister Sermsak Pongpanit, Public Health Minister Cholnan Srikaew, and Defence Minister Sutin Klungsang.

“I don’t have to name all of them. They all have known Thaksin longer than me and they have respected him for a long time. Thaksin is older than all the Cabinet members and the ministers I named are older than me. So I feel nothing about them visiting Thaksin,” Srettha said.

He added that Chiang Mai was a nice city to visit and Songkran Day was a family day, so it was normal for politicians to go to Chiang Mai and visited a person they respect. He noted that many MPs also visited Thaksin.

“Don’t give it much thought. They visited Thaksin because Thaksin was the founder of Thai Rak Thai and a senior person that everybody respects,” Srettha said.

He said he had no idea why he was speculated also to hold the post of defence minister.

“It might because I have been visiting battalions and residences of the military and I have close ties with the top brass. We can talk to one another via phone. It’s my duty as the prime minister to ask them to protect the border and provide farmland for the people, and they responded to my wish well,” Srettha explained.

“I don’t have to be their direct commander to give them these orders.”