Cronyism will hurt Pheu Thai, critics say
Ignoring warnings of the consequences, the Pheu Thai government is expected to appoint more red shirt leaders and guards to political positions.
Pheu Thai spokesman Prompong Nopparit yesterday said the cabinet is tipped to consider the appointments tomorrow.
The red shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) leaders in the running to take political positions include UDD guard chief Aree Krainara (secretary to Interior Minister Wannarat Channukul); Shinnawat Habunpad (adviser to Deputy Transport Minister Chatt Kuldiloke); and Yoswaris Chuklom (assistant to Deputy Interior Minister Thanit Thienthong’s secretary).
Other red shirt leaders who might take political posts are UDD lawyer Karom Polthaklang, Pattaya red shirt leader Charnyuth Hengtrakul, and Rak Chiang Mai 51 group leader Phetchawat Wattanapongsirikul.
If approved by the cabinet, the group would join about 10 other key red shirts who have already been appointed political officers.
The 10 include Gen Panlop Pinmanee (adviser to the prime minister); Suchat Lainamngern (deputy secretary-general to the prime minister for political affairs); Anusorn Iamsa-at (deputy spokesman for the Prime Minister’s Office); and Phaijitr Aksornnarong (political officer in the Prime Minister’s Secretary-General Office).
Democrat MP for Phitsanulok Warong Dejkijwikrom said the ruling party is repaying the red shirts for their help in the election, which was inappropriate.
“They are mere rewards to UDD leaders who helped Pheu Thai during the election,” he said.
That was not a good reason to give someone such a job.
Many UDD leaders were still instigating unrest and the government should stop such behaviour.
Political scientist Somchai Srisutthiyakorn said granting political positions to the UDD leaders would do more harm than good to the party.
“The appointment of red shirt leaders to political positions is certainly not based on proper performance and qualifications, but rather on a patronage system,” said Mr Somchai, director of the Policy Watch Centre of Sripatum University.
He urged Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to review the appointments, as they could create “a crisis of faith” for the ruling party.
“I also have doubts as to how these people will be able to help Pheu Thai run the country,” he added.
“As far as I know, some of them have no knowledge nor any experience of national administration.”
Ms Yingluck yesterday defended the red shirt appointments, saying that each cabinet member was free to select their secretaries and advisers.
“I believe the ministers will base their decisions on the person’s abilities and expertise,” she said.
Mr Prompong said he wanted critics to be fair to the red shirt leaders.
“It is too early to say that these people have no ability in running the country.”
Mr Prompong said Prime Minister Yingluck and Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Yongyuth Wichaidit, who is also Pheu Thai Party leader, had considered the matter. “The Democrat Party appointed Kasit Piromya as foreign minister [when it was in power], so why can’t we provide the red shirt leaders with political posts?” Mr Prompong said.
Mr Kasit was a member of the yellow shirt People’s Alliance for Democracy movement before becoming foreign minister under the Democrats.
Mr Prompong said he believed that the red shirt leaders were ready for public scrutiny. They would be dismissed if the public saw that they were not qualified for their jobs.
Deputy Transport Minister Chatt said the UDD leaders could work well with the Pheu Thai government. “We have the same ideology and [the UDD leaders] understand government policy,” said Pol Lt Gen Chatt, a key UDD key member.
UDD chairwoman Tida Tavornseth said the public should monitor the red shirts’ performance to ensure that they did not exploit their positions for personal interest.
The red shirt political officers should help monitor the government and alert the public if they witness any irregularities.