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05BANGKOK4284 THAKSIN CONSIDERS CABINET CHANGES FOLLOWING CENSURE DEBATE

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“35640”,”6/30/2005 9:24″,”05BANGKOK4284″,”Embassy Bangkok”,

 

“UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY”,”05BANGKOK4238″,

“This record is a partial extract of the original cable.

The full text of the original cable is not available.

“,”UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 004284

 

SIPDIS

 

SENSITIVE

 

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/BCLTV, USPACOM FOR FPA HUSO

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PGOV, TH, Cabinet Reshuffle

SUBJECT: THAKSIN CONSIDERS CABINET CHANGES FOLLOWING

CENSURE DEBATE

 

REF: BANGKOK 4238

 

1. (U) Summary: Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra appears

ready to make the first changes to his cabinet since his

re-election in February. Following an unsuccessful censure

motion against his Minister of Transportation, the move is

expected in mid-July and could likely involve the

Transportation, Finance and Foreign Ministries. The expected

moves may only be a temporary measure before a bureaucratic

reform measure takes effect in October, reducing the number

of ministries by two. As the Parliament heads into a month

long recess in July, the lower house is trying to pass next

year\’s budget and approve a constitutional amendment, all

before the weekend. End Summary.

 

2. (U) Speculation increased on June 30 in Bangkok following

the voting in Thailand\’s lower House of Representatives,

which resulted in the predicted unsuccessful bid to censure

the Minister of Transportation, Suriya Jungrungreangkit

(Reftel). In follow on analysis and commentary that had been

floated over the weekend prior to this week\’s debate and

vote, nearly all the daily Thai language and English language

newspapers speculated that Suriya would be moved to a Deputy

Prime Minister position for his inability to respond

convincingly to questions of mismanaging the purchase of

baggage scanners for Bangkok new international airport, which

is scheduled to open later this year.

 

TRANSPORTATION

 

3. (U) Names floated for Suriya\’s replacement at

Transportation include Vichit Suraphongchai, Chairman of the

Board of Siam Commercial Bank President and former Finance

Minster under the Chuan administration. He has also

previously served as Transport Minister. There was also a

report that that Agriculture Minister Sudarat Keyuraphan

might take job, but this appears unlikely as she has been

tasked with trying to take charge of what is seen as one of

the most corrupt ministries in the RTG. There would also not

appear to be a strong replacement at the Agriculture

Ministry. The current Minister of Commerce, Thanong Bidaya,

was also floated to take the transport portfolio. Suriya may

move to be a Deputy PM in charge of transportation issues,

likely overseeing an ambitious set of multi-million dollar

public transportation projects recently approved by the

Parliament.

 

FINANCE

 

4. (U) The current Minister of Finance, Somkid Jatusripitak,

holds the concurrent position of Deputy Prime Minister for

economic affairs. It was widely reported that Somkid wanted

to lose the Finance portfolio in March when the present

cabinet was formed by PM Thaksin could not find a credible

candidate to fill the job. Now, it appears, the PM may

appoint the former Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister

Virabongsa Ramangkura. Virabongsa is an economist, not an

elected Member of Parliament who in the past has been called

in to help governments in politically choppy waters.

 

FOREIGN AFFAIRS

 

5. (U) Finally, The Nation reported on June 30 (and Poloffs

had heard rumors recently), that Deputy Prime Minister

Surakiart Sathirathai, will return to MFA. The Nation story

cited sources as describing current FM Kantathi Suphamongkhon

as \”too passive for the job.\” It is unclear where FM

Kantathi would go or if he would leave RTG service. (Note:

Kantathi\’s appointment in March came as a complete surprise,

therefore any talk of his removal and Surkiart\’s return

should be taken in that light. End note.)

 

FROM 20 TO 18, COMING SOON

 

6. (U) All of these rumors of a reshuffle, however, may just

a first move before more reappointments will be made in

October when the Science Ministry is folded in to the

Information, Communications and Technology Ministry and the

Culture Ministry is folded into the Ministry of Tourism and

Sports. The current Minister of Culture, Uraiwan Thienthong,

is the wife of the Thai Rak Thai (TRT) party\’s Wang Nam Yen

faction. After yesterday\’s vote, which Snoh conveniently

missed due to \”illness\”, he was quoted as saying, \”We won the

vote, but lost public opinion.\” It appears that Uraiwan will

be allowed to keep her portfolio until her October and the

Snoh will be allowed to stay in the party.

 

THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH?

 

7. (SBU) Comment: Political ruminations following a

controversial censure debate are all speculation. The only

known element as that no changes will take place without the

involved consent of Thaksin. It\’s been reported that changes

won\’t be announced until after the TRT\’s 7th anniversary

founding on July 14. Nearly all the ministries mentioned

for the shakeup are run by technocrats or economic experts

and those new faces mentioned as possible replacements are

well-know TRT economic insiders. As the PM and all of his

key economic and foreign policy advisors head for a state

visit to China on June 30, Thaksin, as he noted to the press

on June 29, has \”a lot to think about.\” End Comment.

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 7, 2011 at 5:36 am

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