Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Yongyuth hints at posts for returning 111

Deputy Prime Minister Yongyuth Wichaidit has hinted that the Pheu Thai Party may take in the 111 banned politicians of the defunct Thai Rak Thai Party.

The five-year ban on the former executives expires at the end of this month and some analysts believe they might replace current cabinet members.

Mr Yongyuth, who is the Pheu Thai leader, said Tuesday that anyone who wants to join the party must be capable, no matter whether they are among the 111 banned politicians or not.

He said the authority to decide on a cabinet reshuffle rests solely with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra as the party's executives have already given her a free hand in the matter.

He stressed that any cabinet shake-up was not intended to boost the government's chances of survival and each cabinet member was chosen on merit.

Mr Yongyuth would not confirm rumours that Somsak Thepsuthin, the leader of Matchima, which is a breakaway faction of former Thai Rak Thai MPs, is considering defecting from the Bhumjaithai Party and aligning with Pheu Thai.

"Nobody can predict the political future," Mr Yongyuth said.

However, he indicated the possibility of approaching Newin Chidchob, Bhumjaithai Party de facto leader and one of the 111 banned politicians, to join Pheu Thai.

"We are still fellow Thais. We may be upset, but we can understand. We may resent, but we are still friends," Mr Yongyuth said, referring to Mr Newin's previous split from Thai Rak Thai. Mr Yongyuth also brushed aside a report that the 111 banned figures would hold a party on May 30 when their ban expires and that ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra would phone in and discuss a plan to accept them into Pheu Thai.

A Pheu Thai source said cabinet seats would be allocated to the 111 banned politicians according to a regional quota system and they might replace cabinet members who belong to their factions.

Meanwhile, Panthongtae Shinawatra, Thaksin's son, posted on his Facebook page Tuesday a picture of his father watching Manchester City, which Thaksin once owned, play Manchester United on Monday night. Mr Panthongtae thanked Manchester City supporters for giving his father a warm welcome.