The internal rift in the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) and the ongoing rift among the various coalition members are all indicating that the plans for the 2014 coup leader – Prayut Chan-o-cha, to remain in power until the term ends on March 23, 2023, seems very unlikely.
The latest flare up of the ongoing tremors in the ruling PPRP was evident after Prayut’s key supporter – General Prawit Wongsuwon, came out to make very harsh statements yesterday.
Gen. Prawit, who is famous for his millions of dollar worth watches from dead friends, came out to say that if Gen. Prayut wants to go to any other party, he can go and that he as the party leader would not stop him.
“They can go anywhere they want, I don’t mind,” Gen. Prawit, said when asked about the rumour that Gen. Prayut could be joining the Ruam Thai Sang Chart Party and a handful of MPs from the PPRP could be joining him.
“If they want to go, they can go, this is a personal matter,” he added.
When asked if he will stop Gen. Prayut from joining another party instead of joining the PPRP the million dollars watch borrower from dead friends – Gen. Prawit said, “I will not stop him.”
Prawit Wongsuwan covers his eyes, displaying a watch he is wearing, during a photo call with other members of a new cabinet in Bangkok. – Thailand’s junta number two has been snapped with 25 different luxury watches worth 1.2 million USD since 2014 coup
Rumors of Gen. Prayut moving to another party has been ongoing for months as various smaller parties have been set up to take the lead in taking Gen. Prayut as their Prime Minister candidate.
The problem with these smaller parties is that the new electoral law, which the Constitutional Court is set to give its verdict on November 23rd on whether it violates the constitution or not, is favouring larger parties and a party needs a minimum of 25 MPs to even be able to nominate the Prime Minister in the parliament for voting.
The very strong statement by ultra-expensive watch loving Gen. Prawit, came at a time when talks of possible house dissolution remains rife.
Talks of house dissolution after the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit after November 19th has been rife.
Other talks are that the house dissolution would likely be sometimes by the end of December 2022 when the deadline for MPs to move is free for all.
Chonlanan Srikaew, the leader of the main opposition Pheu Thai party, said last week that the house could be dissolved after December 24 which is the deadline when MPs can move party before the government term ends in March.
Widening Rift in PPRP
The internal rift of the PPRP has been ongoing ever since the honeymoon period of this government ended in 2021 with various factions demanding their share of the ministerial pie.
In 2021 the PPRP saw a major rift that nearly brought the government of General Prayut down after the no-confidence debate in September 2021. The fiasco that nearly brought the cobbled-up coalition of Gen. Prayut prompted the coup leader to kick the mastermind – the heroin convict who was jailed in Australia, Thammant Prompao, out of the Cabinet.
Soon thereafter Thammant took nearly 2 dozen MPs out with him and formed a new political party – Thai Economic party, and now is wondering around whether he wants to go with the PPRP or the opposition Pheu Thai party as elections approach.
Reports emerged that Thammanat had a meeting with self-exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in Dubai and soon thereafter had a meeting with Gen. Prawit in Bangkok and after the meeting Gen. Prawit was reportedly happy.
Thammanat Prompao gestures at Government House
But on the very same day reports emerged that Gen. Prayut had held a meeting with Gen. Prawit to inform him that he would not be with the PPRP in the next elections but instead will likely join the Ruam Thai Sang Chart party. The Ruan Thai Sang Chart party has in the past openly said that it wants to nominate Gen. Prayut as its next candidate for Prime Minister, even though the Constitutional Court has said that Gen. Prayut cannot be in the position of Prime Ministership beyond 2025, which would be just 2-years after the next elections.
Many of the MPs of the PPRP are planning on moving to Ruam Thai Sang Chart party along with Gen. Prayut in order to support his bid to be the Prime Minister.
Cracks in the Coalition
The coalition of the smaller parties cobbled up by Gen. Prayut and his gang after the March 2019 elections has seen cracks that are becoming more visible and harder to mend as the last few months of the life of this coalition approaches.
Bhumjai Thai party, which is the 2nd largest coalition with 62 MPs under its belt after PPRP with 96, has not been in good terms with the 3rd largest coalition member – Democrat party. The Democrats who have 52 MPs under their banner, has been coming out to blast Bhumjai Thai party every few days.
The Democrat party has come out to criticize the ongoing moves to pass the bill to legalize marijuana, while Bhumjai Thai party has come out to blast the Democrats for not being helpful to its coalition members.
The leaders of both Bhumjai Thai party – Anutin Charnvirakul and Democrat party – Jurin Laksanawisit, have traded jibes at each other.
Now the problems at the top of the party has started to drift down to the lower ranks and Democrat party’s MP Pimrapee Phanwichatikul has come out to ask why Deputy Prime Minister Anutin was promoting ice cream laced with marijuana.
Pimrapee came out to say that such promotion by Anutin was nothing to do with the ‘medical’ use of the drug but instead a move to promote marijuana to the younger generation, which the Democrat party has said it was not willing to support.
A rift in the 2 largest coalition members is likely to intensify this week as Democrats have said that they would vote down the marijuana bill’s 2nd and 3rd reading.
The move by the Democrat party is in line with those of the other opposition parties and it could prompt the division in the coalition to widen to a point of no return.
A fall of the bill that is going to be touted as the only work that the Bhumjai Thai may have done in the past 3 ½ years could be the last straw for the 2nd largest coalition partner to take itself out of the equation to be on the ‘higher’ ground.