Thailand’s junta chief Prayut warns horse-trading could hurt govt’s credibility

PM General Prayut Chan-o-cha shows the press a small durian that will be displayed at the upcoming roadshow, Thailand Fruit Festival 2019. The Nation. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

BANGKOK, May 22, 2019, The Nation. Junta chief Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha is ready to lead large coalition and implement policies of political partners. He has warned that the current horse-trading among politicians could hurt the next government’s credibility, reported The Nation.

Prayut, however, denied that he or his close colleague, General Prawit Wongsuwan, had participated in any negotiation, stressing it was for the political parties to discuss and sort out.

Prayut also put a positive spin on a coalition of some 16 parties led by Phalang Pracharat Party forming the next government, brushing aside concerns over stability.

“It’s okay. We have to look at it positively,” Prayut said. “With multiple parties, it can be good in a way that we can try to implement all the policies they have promised the voters.” Phalang Pracharat only won 115 seats in the lower house and will have to rely on medium-sized and minor parties to form a government.

Experts believe such a multiparty government will be unstable. Each party could pursue its own agenda, making administration difficult for the government.

Prayut’s offer to implement the election promises of all coalition partners could be viewed as a veiled message to Bhumjaithai Party.

The medium-sized party, with 51 MPs from the recent election, has the power to determine which bloc – pro-junta or anti-junta – forms the government.

Its leader Anutin Charnvirakul was even tipped to be offered the PM’s post, but he has rested his decision on how each bloc welcomes his party’s policy to legalise marijuana.

Prayut said yesterday that one of the perks of a multi-party government could be the variety of policies and he personally viewed them positively.

However, citing legislation, Prayut admitted not all policies could come through. “Even though I have significant power, I cannot make everything possible,” he said.

“I hope that the next government would just continue the good things. Politics should work that way. It’s not competition and all these positions are not for trading.

“Today, the parties are discussing among themselves. Please do not involve me in it. I won’t interfere with that,” Prayut said. “I think everything depends on mutual understanding about what the country needs right now.

If it prolongs for too long, it would hurt the economy and international confidence.” He said he could not make any call now, as he was not the head of the new government. He, however, made it clear that once he takes charge, the Cabinet members would have to be decided by him.

Prayut also dismissed news reports published overseas that the next PM could be founder of the CP Group, Dhanin Chearavanont.

“How could that be? I have no idea about that,” he told the press.

Meanwhile, junta No 2 General Prawit denied all reports that he had held discussions with different parties over the next Parliament. However, when asked about Prayut wanting him to return and continue as defence minister after the new government is set up, Prawit said: “If that’s what he wants. But nobody knows about the future. Prayut does not know if he could be the PM or not.”

In a related development, former Democrat leader Banyat Banthadthan yesterday said he did not want to become the speaker of the lower house. Banyat thanked fellow MPs for considering him, saying it was an honour as the post was the head of one of the three pillars of parliamentary democracy.

He, however, said he would rather be an ordinary MP. He said he wanted independence and freedom to work more in rural areas to sort out public issues, adding there were other Democrat MPs who had the credentials to take this post.

Meanwhile, in the junta-appointed upper house, former president of the now-defunct National Legislative Assembly (NLA) reportedly would return as speaker of the Senate. The first and the second deputy speaker posts would go to former NLA member Singhsuek Singhprai and former Election Commission president Supachai Somcharoen respectively.

The vote would take place this Friday when Parliament opens.

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