Defection to Pheu Thai ‘most likely’
Justice Minister Somsak Thepsutin said he will defect from the ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) most probably to the main opposition Pheu Thai Party.
Speaking during a visit to Phichit provincial prison on Wednesday, Mr Somsak, who chairs the PPRP’s strategic panel and is a key figure in the Sam Mitr faction, said the government’s tenure will end soon and it is time for him to move to a new party.
“I will announce which party I will move to (tomorrow),” he said. “We have to act in line with the changing weather conditions.”
He stopped short of saying if Pheu Thai would be his choice. The main opposition party previously said it would welcome back the Sam Mitr faction figures with open arms should they opt to defect.
Despite denying having been in talks with the group about its possible defection, Pheu Thai leader Cholnan Srikaew confirmed some MPs in the faction have already expressed their desire to join.
Dr Cholnan said there have been no discussions about what position Mr Somsak would take if he returned. Mr Somsak was with Pheu Thai before he aligned himself with the PPRP prior to the last election in 2019.
Mr Somsak has said that another key figure in Sam Mitr, Industry Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit, who also serves as the PPRP’s deputy leader, would have the final say on whether the group will leave the PPRP and where they will end up.
He said he preferred to go where there were better prospects of him being part of the government.
– Democrats bleed MPs –
Democrat Party leader Jurin Laksanawisit on Wednesday insisted the departure of two veteran Democrats to the United Thai Nation (UTN) Party would have no impact on its election prospects.
Social Development and Human Security Minister Juti Krairiksh reportedly quit the party and applied to join the UTN on March 7, while Boonyod Sooktinthai, a former Democrat MP for Bangkok, announced his departure in a Facebook post on Tuesday.
– CTP hunts for new BKK MP –
The Chartthaipattana Party (CTP) introduced as its potential Bangkok candidate a former MP of the Move Forward Party (MFP) on Wednesday.
At a press briefing, party leader Varawut Silpa-archa named Somkiat Thanomsin as its potential candidate for Bang Na.
Mr Varawut, who also serves as natural resources and environment minister, said Mr Somkiat has worked hard in the constituency and in close consultation with the ministry on environment-related matters.
Mr Somkiat said his supporters are aware he has defected after the MFP replaced him as its potential MP candidate in Bang Na with a former head of the youth-led, anti-government protest group.
He was referring to Piyarat “Toto” Chongthep, leader of the We Volunteer (WeVo) guards for the protesters.
– Military reform –
Military reform, which includes downsizing the armed forces and moving their barracks out of the capital, is high on the election campaign agenda of the Seri Ruam Thai Party.
Party leader Sereepisuth Temeeyaves said it was campaigning for a cutback in unnecessary manpower, the removal of any armed purchases that cannot be checked, fewer generals and the abolition of conscription, among other moves.
Somchai Srisutthiyakorn, its policy steering chairman, said Section 113 of the Criminal Code would be amended to impose a death sentence against anyone who overthrows the constitution, to deter coups.