Thailand’s Public Health Minister and Bhumjaithai Party Leader Anutin Charnvirakul maintained today (Tuesday) that Ekkarat Changlao and his son Wattana, both former MPs of the ruling Palang Pracharath Party and among 20 MPs loyal to Thammanat Prompao who were sacked from the party last month, joined his Bhumjaithai party voluntarily.
“I didn’t tempt them into the party, they just walked in,” he quipped, as he announced that his Bhumjaithai party welcomes anybody who wants to join. He also said that having more MPs does not mean the party will attempt to bargain with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha for more ministerial portfolios.
There are currently two vacant cabinet seats, said Anutin, adding that the two seats are not part of the party’s quota and no party in the coalition government has yet demanded the seats.
The minister insisted that the party will stick to the prime minister until the end of the government’s term, which is due to expire this year.
Deputy Interior Minister Songsak Thongsri, also Bhumjaithai deputy leader, said last night that both Ekkarat and Wattana applied for membership of the party and each paid the 2,000 baht membership fee to Anutin at a wedding party for another Changlao family member, in the north-eastern province of Khon Kaen.
He added that Anutin has already approved the two men’s party memberships. Eighteen of the 21 sacked MPs close to Thammanat, including Thammanat himself, have joined the Thai Economic party.
Digital Economy and Society Minister (DES) Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn of the ruling Palang Pracharath Party said he does not think the decision by the two MPs to join Bhumjaithai will affect the working relationship between the two coalition parties.
He also dismissed speculation that the disagreement between the Bhumjaithai party and the government over the concession contract for the BTS Skytrain project will pose a problem for the government, noting that the difference is over a legal technicality.
Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service