By Thai Newsroom Reporters
DEPUTY EDUCATION MINISTER Kanokwan Wilawan is not expected to step down after she has been ordered by court to stop performing in the wake of a national park encroachment case earlier filed against her, said Bhumjaithai party spokesman Paradorn Prisnanantakul today (August 27).
Paradorn categorically dismissed speculation that Kanokwan, an ex-MP of the second largest coalition partner, might probably decide to resign or be currently pressed by the party leadership to step down so that Bhumjaithai MP Chayut Pummakanchana replaces her as a new member of cabinet.
Kanokwan is completely free to stay put while awaiting the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Khaoyai national park encroachment case filed against her by the National Anti-Corruption Commission, according to the Bhumjaithai party spokesman
Given the fact that Kanokwan is only being stopped from performing her duties pending a court ruling on the case, her ministerial status remains intact whilst Bhumjaithai Party need not reshuffle its cabinet seats for the time being, Paradorn said.
Kanokwan has been accused by the NACC of illegally occupying a lush forest land as part of Khaoyai national park in her former constituency of Prachinburi since 2002, thus prompting the Supreme Court yesterday to stop her from performing her ministerial duties until a court ruling has been delivered over the case, viewed by the anti-graft agency as being tantamount to a severe breach of the ethical code for politicians.
Nevertheless, a cabinet reshuffle is largely expected under caretaker prime minister Prawit Wongsuwan which may not only affect the second largest coalition Bhumjaithai Party but the third largest coalition Democrat Party and the core of the coalition government, Palang Pracharath Party.
If Deputy Interior Minister Nipon Boonyamanee of Democrat Party is judged by court as guilty in a misconduct case involving his former role as head of Songkhla provincial administrative organisation, he will be immediately deprived of his cabinet seat, thus prompting a cabinet reshuffle. The court judgement over the case filed against Nipon is due in the middle of next month.
Meanwhile, two cabinet seats under care of Palang Pracharath Party which have been left vacant since last year will likely be given to a couple of partisan members as part of the speculated cabinet reshuffle. Prawit who concurrently leads the largest coalition party is more or less expected to reshuffle the cabinet as part of preparations for his partisan campaigns in the next general election.
Following last year’s censure/no-confidence motion, Thammanat Prompao and Naruemon Pinyosinwat, then attached to Palang Pracharath Party, were ousted as deputy agriculture & cooperatives minister and deputy labour minister respectively by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, who is currently being stopped from performing as head of government at the order of the Constitutional Court, pending a court ruling on his eight-year rule maximumly provided by law which may already have ended last Wednesday.
Earlier this year, Thammanat led an exodus of 21 Palang Pracharath MPs out of the largest coalition partner and joined Thai Economic Party the top leadership of which is currently taken by himself.
Top and Front Page: Suspended Deputy Education Minister Kanokwan Wilawan. Photos: Matichon