Thailand’s New Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin Sworn In with Diverse Cabinet

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thailand's new prime minister srettha thavisin sworn in with diverse cabinet

On September 5, 2023, Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn swore in Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin and his government members during a momentous ceremony at the Dusit Palace in Bangkok. Following weeks of political negotiations and controversy over the establishment of a coalition, this coalition administration, which consists of 11 parties, marked the beginning of a new chapter in Thai politics. 

On August 22, Srettha Thavisin, who represents the Pheu Thai party, was formally appointed prime minister by Parliament. She is leading the coalition created by the Move Forward party, which won the most seats in the May elections. As is usual in Thai politics, Prime Minister Srettha and his 33 cabinet members swore to the monarchy their steadfast allegiance during the ceremony.

The 61-year-old billionaire with a US education and former head of the luxury real estate developer Sansiri highlighted his administration’s dedication to meeting the needs of the people in his televised statement following the swearing-in. We are all present as representatives of the people because “this government is a people’s government,” he declared. We shall strive relentlessly every day to meet the needs of the people because there are numerous problems. I think it’s time to band together and give this Cabinet a chance to begin tackling all problems, whether they are political, social, or economic.

Six of the Pheu Thai coalition’s eleven parties are represented in Srettha’s diversified cabinet. Notably, it has a number of ministers from Prayuth Chan-o-cha’s previous administration. For instance, Anutin Charnvirakul, who formerly served as the minister of public health and oversaw the decriminalisation of marijuana, now serves as interior minister. Thammanat Prompao, who assumes the position of agricultural minister despite having received a conviction and prison sentence in Australia in connection with heroin smuggling in 1994, is another prominent returnee.

Sutin Klungsang, a prominent person in Pheu Thai, was appointed defence minister, which is a noteworthy appointment. Sutin is the first civilian to handle the defence portfolio in Thailand while not also holding the prime minister’s office. Following their decision to form a government with pro-military parties rather than the election winners Move Forward, Pheu Thai was perceived as making this move in an effort to win back the support of the red shirts and the party’s supporters.

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The Centre of ASEAN Community Studies director, assistant professor Napisa Waitoolkiat, remarked on this change by stating that “Pheu Thai has definitely lost trust among its voters. The decision by the top leadership to team up with the military has incensed many fans. The credibility of Pheu Thai as a pro-democracy party has been damaged by this. Therefore, the military cannot hold the position of defence. It was given to Sutin, who was highly regarded by the red shirts. To appease the Pheu Thai and red shirt supporters, this compromise has been reached.

The coalition administration, led by Pheu Thai, has set forth its top priorities, which include protecting the legalisation of medical marijuana while also growing the economy by raising the minimum wage. In order to strengthen democracy, they also intend to work on constitutional revisions. They have, however, disallowed any attempts to change the country’s anti-royal defamation law—a move that is vehemently opposed by its conservative governing class.

The country’s finance minister and prime minister, Srettha Thavisin, is scheduled to visit the northeastern regions to interact with locals and better understand their problems after holding a cabinet meeting soon. As the coalition administration assumes control of the country, the diversity of the cabinet and its emphasis on meeting the needs of the populace signal a substantial change in Thailand’s political environment.

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