Originally published on Channel NewsAsia on November 30, 2017
We look at the latest cabinet reshuffle of Thai Prime Minister Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, who earlier announced that there'll be more civilians and less military officers at the table. So how many are there really and who's new, who's out?
Ever since the takeover in the coup of 2014, Thailand’s military has posted itself here at Bangkok’s Government House and has been ruling the country for three-and-a-half years and that has been very much reflected in the cabinet line-up.
Until very recently, 12 out of 36 cabinet members, including deputy ministers, have been from the armed forces.
Earlier this month in November, Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-ocha, who is also the head of the military junta, has announced he would nominate more civilians in the next reshuffle and after many speculations, rumors and constant nagging by reporters, the 5th cabinet of the Prayuth administration has been endorsed by King Maha Vajiralongkorn last Friday.
Yes, there are now 13 civilians among the 18 ministers. But in the whole cabinet line-up there are still 11 military members, which is just one less than the previous one.
And contrary to earlier, many of the government’s senior heavyweights are still staying where they are, that includes Deputy Prime Minister Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan - who also remains as Defense Minister - as well as Interior Minister Gen. Anupong Paochinda and Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak.
In total there are 10 new faces at the table - most prominently at the Ministries of Agriculture and Energy - while at the same time 9 have to leave their jobs entirely, most notably Tourism Minister Korbkarn Wattanavrangkul.
A spokesman for Prime Minister says the reshuffle is aimed to improve the efficiency of the government’s work, but experts say that they’re already preparing for the next year.
THITINAN PONGSUDHIRAK, Director Institute of Security and International Studies, Chulalongkorn University:
"The public perceptions of the military junta and the military government have shift a little bit. I think that this junta was in power, was accepted in power in order to oversee this very sensitive, moving, profound event - the cremation of the late King. But now that it has passed I think that the sell-by date has gone by as well. I think this latest reshuffle was very clear, it is a reshuffle to maintain performance in order to pave the way for the continuity of power after the election."
In October, Prime Minister Prayuth announced that democratic elections will be held in November 2018, so far the most concrete date we heard after may postponements and delays.
The new cabinet will be sworn in by taking an oath in front of King Maha Vajiralongkorn on Thursday evening.
Saksith Saiyasombut, Channel NewsAsia, Bangkok