By Thai Newsroom Reporters
PRIME MINISTER PRAYUT Chan-o-cha would be trying in vain to make his presence felt after he has been ordered by court to stop performing as head of government, commented a noted academic over the weekend.
Though Prayut has been ordered by the Constitutional Court to stop performing his prime-ministerial duties pending a court ruling on his eight-year rule maximumly provided by law, the embattled premier on Friday literally turned to the Ministry of Defence, the portfolio which he has concurrently assumed, to make his presence not only felt by generals, admirals and marshals but by others in government, according to Kasetsart University’s Political Science Association president Thanaporn Sriyakul.
Prayut rode in his own sedan and went to work at the Ministry of Defence headquarters across the street from the Grand Palace and posed for a photo session in which he signed some unknown papers at his desk.
Thanaporn commented that Prayut would not have much to do at the Ministry of Defence where most routine chores would have been otherwise done by Deputy Defence Minister Chaicharn Changmongkol, but the embattled premier would desperately keep going there to make his presence felt by the high-ranking military officers and might even attend weekly cabinet meetings at Government House chaired by caretaker prime minister Prawit Wongsuwan only to embarrass them all.
The eight-year premiership of Prayut who rose to power by way of a coup which he orchestrated as army chief in 2014, then named himself head of a military-installed government later that year and was named head of a Palang Pracharath-led coalition government following a general election in 2019 may already have ended last Wednesday in accordance with clauses of the current constitution. The Constitutional Court is largely expected to deliver a ruling on Prayut’s case within next month.
In case that Prayut is finally judged to have completely consumed a maximum of eight years in power, he will be immediately deprived of his prime-ministerial status whilst the legislative branch consisting of MPs and senators will promptly find a person in his place by way of voting for either one of the candidates for head of government earlier named by parties contesting the previous election. However, if none is given votes from more than half the total of MPs and senators currently combined, an outsider such as Prawit might possibly be named head of government instead.
Meanwhile, in his capacity as defence minister, Prayut will need final approval from Prawit at Government House for the annual reshuffling of military commanders due within next month.
It remains to be seen whether Prawit would finally agree to whatever promotion or demotion of those military commanders provided by Prayut whilst the annual reshuffling of police generals might probably change under the caretaker premier, according to the Kasetsart academic.
Nevertheless, Prawit who concurrently leads the largest coalition Palang Pracharath Party might as well reshuffle the cabinet seats with two under care of his party, plus one for Bhumjaithai Party and one for Democrat Party, he said.
That refers to the seats of deputy agriculture & cooperatives minister and deputy labour minister attached to Palang Pracharath Party and left vacant since last year and those of deputy education minister and deputy interior minister of which Kanokwan Wilawan of Bhumjaithai Party and Nipon Boonyamanee of Democrat Party might possibly be deprived at the orders of the Supreme Court respectively.
Kanokwan and Nipon have been separately accused of misconduct charges which might possibly lead to their being banned by court from political activity for a number of years, among other penalties.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha at the Defence Ministry on Friday. Photos: Matichon