Conflict over new chief of Excise Department prompts Finance Minister’s resignation
Thailand’s Finance Minister Pridi Daochai did not resign because of health problems, as he claimed in his letter of resignation, but because of a conflict with his deputy, Santi Prompat, over the person chosen to head the Excise Department.
Informed government sources said that the disagreement broke into open conflict during the mobile cabinet meeting in the eastern province of Rayong on August 25th, when the issue of the appointment was discussed.
According to the list submitted to the Cabinet by Mr. Pridi, the then Director of the Fiscal Policy Office, Mr. Lawan Saengsanit, was nominated for the post. At the meeting, however, the name of Mr. Praphas Kong-aid, current Director of the Office of the State Enterprise Commission, was proposed instead. This prompted an objection from Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngarm, who pointed out that this was not in order, because Mr. Praphas’s name was not the one on the list submitted by the Finance Minister.
Mr. Wissanu suggested that the proposed new appointment should be withdrawn by the Finance Ministry for reconsideration.
The sources said that Mr. Pridi was very frustrated that, as Finance Minister, he was unable to choose the candidate for appointment as the new chief of the Excise Department.
The same sources claimed that Mr. Praphas’s name was proposed to Deputy Finance Minister Santi by a large corporation and was forwarded to Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan for submission to the Cabinet at the meeting in Rayong.
Mr. Pridi, however, resubmitted his original candidate choice to the Cabinet yesterday, reaffirming his preference for Mr. Lawan’s appointment as the Excise Department’s new Director-General.
The Cabinet approved the list without changes, but Mr. Pridi has already resigned, effective today, ending his 26 days in the office.