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05BANGKOK4998 THAKSIN’S FIRST CABINET RESHUFFLE BRINGS FEW NEW FACES

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“37872”,”8/3/2005 10:20″,”05BANGKOK4998″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,”05BANGKOK4238″,

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

The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

“,”C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BANGKOK 004998

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/03/2015

TAGS: PGOV, TH, Cabinet Reshuffle

SUBJECT: THAILAND: THAKSIN\’S FIRST CABINET RESHUFFLE

BRINGS FEW NEW FACES

 

REF: BANGKOK 4238

 

Classified By: AMBASSADOR RALPH L. BOYCE. REASON: 1.4 (D)

 

1. (C) Summary: Prime Minister Thaksin unveiled the first

reshuffled cabinet of his second administration on August 2.

Though Thaksin made a significant number of changes within

his cabinet, there were few new faces. Ostensibly, the

reshuffle sought to demonstrate Thaksin\’s resolve to confront

a slowing economy, corruption allegations and continuing

violence in the country\’s deep south. In fact, it had more

to do with juggling political concerns among factions in his

Thai Rak Thai party. For the time being, policy changes and

implementation are likely to be slower as ministers learn

their new portfolios and juggled reporting lines and

responsibilities are settled. The majority of the Thai

public is unlikely to be convinced that real changes in

government policy or performance are afoot. The latest

Thaksin Cabinet follows in para. 2. End Summary.

 

2. (U)

 

New Cabinet members:

 

Air Chief Marshal Kongsak Vantana – Minister of Interior

 

Pongsak Ruktapongpisal – Minister of Transport

 

Prawit Rattanaphien – Minister of Science

 

Gen. Chaiyanan Charoensiri – Deputy Minister of Transport

 

Ministers with new portfolios (13):

 

Somkid Jatusripithak – Deputy PM & Minister of Commerce

(Previously Deputy PM & Minister of Finance)

 

Pol. Gen. Chidchai Vanasatidya – Deputy PM & Minister of

Justice

(Previously Deputy PM & Minister of Interior)

 

Suwat Liptapanlop – Deputy PM

(Previously Minister of Justice)

 

Suriya Jungrungreankit – Deputy PM & Minister of Industry

(Previously Minister of Transport)

 

Newin Chidchob – Minister attached to the PM,s Office

(Previously Deputy Minister of Agriculture & Cooperatives)

 

Pracha Maleenont – Minister of Tourism & Sports

(Previously Minister of Social Development and Human Security)

 

Somsak Thepsutin – Minister of Labor

(Previously Minister of Tourism & Sports)

 

Adisorn Piangket – Deputy Minister of Agriculture &

Cooperatives

(Previously Deputy Minister of Transport)

 

Preecha Laohapongchana – Deputy Minister of Commerce

(Previously Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs)

 

Thanong Bidaya – Minister of Finance

(Previously Minister of Commerce)

 

Sora-at Klinpratoom – Minister of Information and

Communications Technology

(Previously Minister of labor)

 

Wattana Muangsook – Minister of Social Development & Human

Security

(Previously Minister of Industry)

 

Chaturon Chaisang – Minister of Education

(Previously Deputy Prime Minister)

 

Ministers removed (3):

 

Suwit Khunkitti – Minister of Information & Communications

Technology

Korn Dabbaransi – Minister of Science and Technology

Adisai Bhodaramik – Minister of Education

 

A SOP TO FACTIONAL POWER IN THE TRT

 

3. (C) The reshuffle appears to be a boost for the Wang Nam

Yom faction in the Thai Rak Thai (TRT) party. Faction leader

and former Transport Minister Suriya Jungrungreankit, under

fire over the CSX airport corruption scandal, was not only

moved sideways to the \”A-list\” Industry Ministry, but was

also appointed Deputy Prime Minister. This appears to be

designed to help shield Suriya (and Thaksin) from continuing

accusations of irregularities committed during his watch in

the award of construction bids (including accusations by the

opposition against Thaksin\’s sister Yaowaret) for the new

airport. It should also satisfy the powerful Wang Nam Yom

faction, which consists of about over 100 MPs mainly from the

TRT stronghold in the country\’s Northeast. Suriya\’s fellow

faction leader Somsak Thepsutin also did well in his switch

from Tourism to Labor Minister.

 

4. (C) Another major, though waning faction within the TRT,

the Wang Nam Yen, retained its Culture Ministry seat, held by

faction leader Sanoh Thienthong\’s wife, Uraiwan, despite

Sanoh having skirmished with Thaksin earlier this year.

Sanoh\’s open defiance of Thaksin, ostensibly over his

spending policies but actually over Sanoh\’s unhappiness over

what he considered shabby treatment in the award of

government positions by the Prime Minister, was the first

open factional revolt within the TRT. But Sanoh\’s supporters

largely backed away from Sanoh when called upon to support

Transport Minister Suriya in last June\’s censure debate.

Sanoh has been quiet since, and Thaksin wanted to keep him

that way.

 

5. (SBU) Sudarat Keyuraphan, close to Thaksin and head of

the strong TRT Bangkok faction, retained her important

Agriculture Ministry. Deputy Agriculture Minister Newin

Chidchob, head of the \”Buriram faction\” of former Chart Thai

party defectors to the TRT, became Minister attached to the

PM,s Office. There had been rumors of tension between Newin

and Sudarat.

 

6. (C) Factional politics probably also played a role in

the appointments of Preecha (financier of Wang Phatanak

faction — allied with the Wang Bua ban faction headed by

Thaksin\’s sister Yaowapa) and Sora-at (defector from Wang Nam

Yen). Pracha is a major TRT financier, Watana represents the

CP Company (another major contributor to the TRT), ACM

Kongsak recently married the personal secretary of Thaksin\’s

wife, Gen. Chaiyanan is a close friend of Gen. Chaiyasit

Shinawatra (Thaksin,s cousin), and Pongsak was the Prime

Minister\’s close advisor.

 

7. (C) Military class politics may have played a role in

General Chaiyanan\’s entry into the cabinet. He was the

commanding general of the Royal Thai Supreme Command\’s Armed

Forces Development Command, an organization that does not

have a counterpart in the U.S. military. The AFDC primarily

oversees nation-building and construction projects, among

other things, administered by the Supreme Command.

Historically, it affords offers many opportunities for

feathering ones nest. Chaiyanan is from the same military

academy class as Chaiyasit Shinawatra. By resigning his

post, he allows his deputy, LTG Pornchai Kranlert, to serve

as the acting head of the AFDC. Pornchai was the President

of Class 10 (Thaksin,s class) and will likely be promoted to

four star and made permanent head of the AFDC in October.

Thus continues the phonomenum of Thaksin\’s Class 10 taking

powerful positions within the Thai military and police.

 

FINANCE AND COMMERCE PORTFOLIOS SWAPPED

 

8. (C) The swapping of the Finance and Commerce portfolios

was an effort to put Dr. Thanong Bidaya, a former Governor of

the Central Bank, into a portfolio more appropriate to his

background, especially as the RTG plans to move bank

regulatory functions from the Bank of Thailand to a new

regulatory structure under the Finance Ministry. In moving

over to head the Commerce Ministry, Dr. Somkid Jatsusripitak

failed to remove himself from operational responsibility of a

ministry, a goal of his for the past several months. Somkid

had sought to confine himself to overseeing macroeconomic

issues, including FTAs. Sources tell us that his \”failure\” to

do so is a combination of Thaksin\’s confidence in Somkid\’s

abilities, as well as an inability to attract new people of

sufficiently high caliber to important positions. It is not

yet clear whether, with Suriya now Minister for Industry as

well as a Deputy Prime Minister, the economic-related

ministers (Finance, Commerce and Industry) will continue to

report to Somkid as Deputy Prime Minister for Economic

issues. Also unanswered is which minister will lose his

position when the Commerce and Industry ministries complete

their planned merger.

 

OLD WINE IN OLD BOTTLES

 

9. (C) Comment: The first Cabinet of Thaksin\’s second

administration (unveiled in March, 2005) failed to generate

much enthusiasm. This one won\’t fare much better. Of

primary interest to U.S. interests will be the government\’s

approach to dealing with southern unrest as well as its

efforts to cope with slowing economic growth (not to mention

the U.S.-Thai FTA). Although key ministries bear watching

(Chidchai, Somkid and Thanong come to mind), Thaksin will

continue to call all the important shots. End Comment.

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 7, 2011 at 5:44 am

Posted in Confidential, Thaksin

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