The “Ageing Cabinet”: aren’t you satisfied?

10 10 2006

When the list of the new cabinet was revealed yesterday, many critics named it “Cabinet of Old Men”. The positive mood arose out of the coup on 19 September changed to disappointment. They think that the Ageing Cabinet will be slow in making decision as they tend to play safe when they have to make difficult decision. The new cabinet has only one year term to see through the political transition period until the general election, presumably in October 2007 as promised by the Council for National Security. Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont is well aware of this critic and his minister in the PM office, Mr. Thirapat Serirangsan said that he would place first priority in clearing up the image given by the local media.

Is it too early to criticise the newly-appointed cabinet? Should the public give them time to prove themselves, even the six ministers who are criticised over links with Thaksin? Of the six, the Interior Minister, Aree Wongaraya, who served in a Thaksin cabinet and whose son Ekkapot is a former Thai Rak Thai MP is the most critical figure. Is it possible that Aree Wongaraya’s Muslim identity and his long time experience at the interior ministry have influenced the decision of our Prime Minister, as one of his mission is to ease the situation in the south?

I remember I was asked once whether the Thais care about their images in the foreign press. I said yes. Besides the shorten title of the English version of the Council for Democratic Reform, here another proof…His Majesty the King called on the interim cabinet during the swearing in ceremony yesterday (10 October 2006) to give priority to rectify the image and reputation of Thailand and Thai people in the international community. In his words: “A lot of people who are foreigners are saying that Thailand is not good, we have to try to change that…He urged ministers to work with honesty and dedication.” He said that “The country needs to pass the crisis (the coup), the situation now needs people who have ability to make the progress for the country”. He described the ministers as “capable people” urging them to “act honestly as you have sowrn to do”.

In one or two of my previous articles mentioned that the coup, the CDR or CNS and the Prime Minister have the blessing from the King as well as the Chairman of the Privy Council, Gen Prem Tinsulanonda. It is no surprise to see some of Prem’s men in the Cabinet i.e. Aree Wongaraya, the interior minister, Nitya Pibulsonggram, the foreign minister, Banyat Jansena, the deputy interior minister, Piyabutr Cholvijarn, deputy industry minister, Khunying Khaisri Sri-aroon, the culture minister and Dr. Mongkol Na Songkhla, the health minister.

I think while giving time to the new cabinet to prove themselve, we should now question the interim government when they will lift the martial law as this would be a factor to shore up the image of the country in the international community….


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