By Thai Newsroom Reporters
PRIME MINISTER PRAYUT Chan-o-cha and Interior Minister Anupong Paochinda have looked considerably frustrated and appalled at last Saturday’s event in which certain coalition MPs voted no-confidence in the latter and their overt moves to promote Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan as interior minister.
Prayut and Anupong today (July 26) discussed with Prawit who concurrently performs as top leader of Palang Pracharath Party the “renegade votes” cast by six Palang Pracharath MPs of Samut Prakan and looked for some explanation from the party boss, said a coalition source.
Nevertheless, Prawit did not come up with any explanation for the discontented Prayut and Anupong during their private talk at Government House, the source said.
Those Palang Pracharath MPs who have strongly suggested that Prawit be given sooner than later the post of interior minister did not only vote against Anupong but Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin who concurrently acts as director of the largest coalition partner.
Anupong and Suchart were given 245 and 243 votes of confidence, compared to 212 and 208 votes of no confidence respectively. That compared to 256 votes of confidence in Prayut and 206 votes of no confidence in the coup leader-turned-premier.
The six Palang Pracharath MPs known to have quietly pushed for the naming of Prawit as replacement for Anupong as interior minister would undoubtedly anticipate a ministerial seat in return for their unwavering loyalty to the party leader, the source said.
The “renegade” MPs of Samut Prakan have expressed preferences that Prawit take charge of the interior portfolio well ahead of the next general election, he said.
Following a recent censure/no-confidence motion which Prayut and 10 other cabinet members barely survived, a cabinet reshuffle is widely speculated sooner or later in which Prawit is tipped to replace Anupong as interior minister.
“It’s ultimately unfair for Prawit as head of the largest coalition partner to do without a portfolio of his own unlike those of the second and third coalition partners who are deputy premiers and concurrently run the public health portfolio or the commerce portfolio,” the source said, referring to Bhumjaithai party leader Anutin Charnvirakul and Democrat party leader Jurin Laksanavisit respectively.
In another development, the Election Commission or the National Anti-Corruption Commission is shortly expected to officially accept a petition for investigation into allegations that each of a dozen MPs of pro-government splinter parties has secretly received 100,000 baht in kickback cash handed out by Palang Pracharath Party on monthly basis since 2020.
Line texts between those splinter MPs and the largest coalition party purportedly show the reception of the monthly payoff cash transferred online.
If found guilty as charged, members of the party’s executive board including the top party leader could possibly be banned from all levels of the political arena for a 10-year time in addition to the possible dissolution of the party at the orders of the Constitutional Court.
Besides those splinter MPs, a dozen “renegade” MPs of Pheu Thai Party, Move Forward Party and a few others currently attached to the opposition bloc have also been accused of receiving payoffs in cash from Prawit’s camp in alleged effort to practically keep them all on the coalition side.
Top: Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha having a tête-à-tête with Interior Minister Anupong Paochinda at parliament.
Front Page: Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan, left. and Interior Minister Anupong Paochinda, right. Both photos: Matichon