PM satisfied with new cabinet line-up


BANGKOK, Jan 19 – Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Thursday said she was satisfied with the new cabinet line-up, while reaffirming that the reshuffle was due to suitability for the tasks at hand, not as political rewards.

The premier commented this morning before departing for the Philippines after His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej yesterday endorsed the cabinet reshuffle involving 16 ministerial posts including 10 newcomers and six swapped positions.

Ms Yingluck said the reshuffle was done after the government had worked for a time, and that she wanted to bring in more people with knowledge and the ability to work for national rehabilitation.

She insisted that the reshuffle positions are not political paybacks but have been done for “suitability”, saying she believed those who were removed from the list would have no problem.

The prime minister defended her selection on key Red Shirt leader Natthawut Saikua, who now has become deputy agriculture minister, saying the protest leader understood well the agriculture-related works and problems of the farmers.

Regarding news reports that the U.S. Treasury Department in 2008 named Nalinee Thaveesin, newly-appointed as Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office, as a crony of Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Yingluck said she believed that was not a problem since Ms Nalinee’s qualifications have been examined and verified to be acceptable under the country’s Constitution.

“Ms Nalinee will clarify the matter and (I) will instruct the foreign ministry to look into the matter,” Ms Yingluck said.

The appointee was reportedly on the list of the US Treasury Department in 2008, which said she and three other persons were a crony of Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe. She was alleged to have facilitating financial, real-estate and gem-related transactions for the president’s wife Grace Mugabe.

Concerning Mr Kittiratt Na Ranong, re-appointed as deputy prime minister and shifted from the commerce ministry to become finance minister, the prime minister said Mr Kittiratt will be in charge of the country’ rehabilitation work and macroeconomic policy.

Ms Yingluck said the new position would allow him to directly oversee the matter and his working style is unlikely to be changed.

Following reports that the appointment of ACM Sukumpol Suwanatat as new defence minister replacing Gen Yutthasak Sasiprapa is not appreciated by the top brass, the premier stood firm that her government’s policy towards the armed forces remains unchanged.

She said ACM Sukumpol understood well the military work as he himself was also a senior military officer, while the former defence minister, now reappointed as deputy premier, will still supervise national security.

“I am satisfied with the overall picture of the new cabinet,” the prime minister stated, asking the public to allow her cabinet members time to work.

Ms Yingluck pledged that the new cabinet will continue working on the economic stimulation and that all ministers have strong determination to do a good job.