24 July 2024

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin said today that he is ready to explain, to Pheu Thai party members, his decision to appoint former Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam as his advisor, without an official position, salary or formal asset declaration.

The appointment of Wissanu, a deputy prime minister in the Prayut administration for about eight years, has reportedly caused some disquiet among MPs, who see the appointment of an outsider as bypassing the party’s legal experts.

The prime minister said Wissanu is now screening his rebuttal statement, to be submitted to the Constitutional Court on Monday in defence of the charge against him, by a group of 40 senators, that he appointed Phichit Chuenban as the PM Office minister despite his tainted record.

Phichit has already resigned.

The prime minister explained that he did not avoid Pheu Thai party meetings in order to avoid confronting his detractors over Wissanu’s appointment, adding that he will meet with the MPs when parliament reconvenes after the long recess.

He stressed that it is his duty to provide an explanation, if some party MPs are unhappy with his decisions, so they can work in harmony.

It was the prime minister’s decision to approach Wissanu and ask him to assist with some legal affairs. Initially, he offered Wissanu a deputy prime minister position. He declined but agreed to be an advisor, without an official position or government salary.

Yesterday, Pheu Thai leader Paetongtarn Shinawatra tried to defuse the disquiet over Wissanu’s appointment during a meeting of party MPs at their headquarters.

Paetongtarn emphasised that Wissanu agreed to take the job with good and sincere intentions, had previously worked with the Thai Rak Thai-led government and is considered a person of high ability.

She asked the MPs to accept and understand him.

It is a good thing that the party has a capable person to work with, she said, adding that they must join hands and become united to move forward.

“If the prime minister could not stay, neither would coalition parties and the parliament,” she opined.