It appears that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, rather than her brother Thaksin, will have the final say in the upcoming Cabinet reshuffle next month.
The reshuffle is expected to bring big changes, with newcomers taking over “Grade A” portfolios from incumbents.
Here is a list of the high-profile politicians who might be moved:
- Pheu Thai leader Yongyuth Wichaidit, who is also deputy PM and interior minister, could lose his portfolio after the National Anti-Corruption Commission ruled that he committed malfeasance by certifying the sale of land belonging to Wat Thammikaram temple to Alpine Real Estate and Alpine Golf & Sports Club.
- Justice Minister Pracha Promnok might lose the post that was given to him as compensation after he lost the race for the PM’s post to Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva. Pracha, then Puea Pandin leader, was pushed to join the race by People Power Party MPs after the Constitution Court dissolved their party.
- Education Minister Suchart Thadathamrongvej might lose his portfolio, especially after being embroiled in controversial issues such as the school tea-money scandal and tablet PC project. He might also be targeted in the opposition party’s no-confidence motion planned for the next parliamentary session.
- Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyapirom appears to have become the weakest link in this Cabinet because he has not been able to tackle major economic issues such as rising prices and the drop in export target.
lDefence Minister Sukampol Suwannathat might get the heave-ho for failing to build a good relationship between the ruling Pheu Thai Party and the military top brass. Besides, fugitive ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra wants to give the Defence portfolio to one of his old associates from Pre-Cadet Class 10.
- Transport Minister Jarupong Ruangsuwan might lose his post because after all, he was only given it temporarily.
Yingluck is expected to use the next Cabinet reshuffle to strengthen her government’s image as well as to restore public confidence, especially as she will have been in office for a whole year come August.
However, Yingluck might find things a bit difficult in her efforts to please everybody.
Apart from satisfying certain party members who are waiting to be rewarded with ministerial posts, she also has to deal with the 111 big shots who have just been released from their five-year political ban, not to mention her brother’s intervention.
Some of the 111 reportedly flew to Hong Kong and Japan last week to meet Thaksin and angle for posts.
Yingluck is obviously aware of all this, and she could well choose to delay the reshuffle in order to avoid tensions within her party.
It is known that Thaksin played a big part in dictating his sister’s policies and decisions in setting up her administration. However, the general opinion is that he will not be able to dominate his sister to such a degree this time around.
Over the past 10 months, the premier has dealt with several big problems, such as severe flooding, drought, economic difficulties as well as the charter amendment and reconciliation bills.
Fortunately for her, these problems appear to have strengthened her position and given her the ability to show off her leadership skills. Several recent surveys have shown a gain in public support for Yingluck, so now it’s not only Pheu Thai MPs who are relying on her, but also her brother.
A key member of the Pheu Thai Party has said that even Thaksin may not want to upset her, because if she gets disheartened and steps down, he could lose his proxy premier.
Thus, this Cabinet reshuffle might offer Yingluck a chance to show the world just who is really leading Thailand.