Thailand’s Energy Minister Sontirat may join Kla Party

There is speculation that Energy Minister, and former Secretary-General of Thailand’s ruling Palang Pracharat party, Mr. Sontirat Sontijirawong, will join Mr. Korn Chatikavanich’s Kla party around August this year.

A well-informed source in the Kla party said that Mr. Sontirat met Mr. Korn, a former Finance Minister during the Government of former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, several times to discuss economic and energy issues.

Mr. Sontirat, Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana, Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovations Minister Suit Mesinsee and Mr. Kobsak Pootrakool, deputy Secretary-General of the PM’s Office for political affairs, quit the ruling Palang Pracharat party, after they were ousted from the executive board at a party general assembly on June 27th.

The source claimed that several businessmen in the energy sector might join Mr. Sontirat in defecting to the Kla party.

Messrs. Sontirat, Uttama and Suwit are likely to be removed from the Cabinet in a reshuffle, after next month’s final passage of the budget bill for 2021 fiscal year.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has been under increasing pressure, from the ruling party’s MPs, especially the Sam Mitr faction, to remove the three men from the Cabinet, who are regarded as protégés of Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak.

An informed government source said that the Prime Minister was in the process of approaching an outsider to head an economic team, to replace that led by Dr. Somkid adding, however, that most of the people approached remain reluctant to join because they realize the uphill task of rebooting the economy and do not want to offend Dr. Somkid.

In case no one can be found, the source said the Prime Minister himself might head the new economic team, which will comprise several prominent outsiders who are currently serving as the Government’s economic advisory team.

Among them are Boontak Wangcharoen, Piti Tanthakasem, Pairin Chuchotethavorn, Setthaput Sutthivathanaput, Supattanapong Panmeechao, Pridi Daochai and Prasarn Traiwatvorakul.

When asked about his own future in government, Dr. Somkid said that he does not mind if he loses his cabinet seat, noting that the Prime Minister must keep the national interest as the top priority when he chooses his cabinet team.

Asked whether he has accomplished his mission in government, Dr. Somkid said his main mission is to look after his health.


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