Thailand: New Samak Cabinet

Updated On: Aug 04, 2008

As expected, PM Samak Sundaravej has reshuffled his cabinet. The appointments received the formal royal endorsement on 2 Aug.

Among the key appointees are former national police chief General Kowit Watana, who is set to become deputy prime minister and the interior minister; Chaiya Sasomsap, who has been appointed the new commerce minister; and Deputy House Speaker Somsak Kiartsuranont, as the culture minister.

The appointments of Chaiya and Kowit may be controversial. Chaiya is reappointed just weeks after he resigned as public health minister at a court order for improperly filing his declaration on wife's wealth. Kowit, who was police commissioner-general of Thailand from 2004 to last year, is seen as an ally of former premier Thaksin Shinawatra and has been sentenced to a suspended jail term by the Criminal Court.

Five members of the previous Cabinet have lost their seats in the latest shake-up. The best known of these are Chalerm Yoobamrung as the interior minister. Another is Suwit Khunkitti who was deputy premier and the industry minister, but had tried and failed to lead his Puea Pandin Party to leave the ruling coalition.

The Foreign Minister appointed last week, veteran diplomat Tej Bunnag will remain. Mr Tej has been an adviser to the King's principal private secretary. There are reports that, after his appointment as Foreign Minister, he was granted an audience with the King before taking up his duties.

The Cabinet reshuffle comes as the PPP seeks to pass the budget in Parliament - and ahead of controversial proposals to amend the Constitution, due to be tabled later this month.

Source: The Nation, 2 Aug, New ministers get royal endorsement, http://www.nationmultimedia.com/2008/08/02/politics/politics_30079611.ph...

The Straits Times, 2 Aug, In Thailand: Thaksin ally gets key Cabinet job, http://www.straitstimes.com/Prime%2BNews/Story/STIStory_263535.html

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