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Questions are being asked whether Caretaker Prime Minister who mastermind the 2014 coup – General Prawit Wongsuwon, has run out of use of General Prayut Chan-o-cha, or not.
From the looks of it, the answer to the question seems to be a big ‘yes’.
Despite Prawit keep on saying over the past week that he wants to show respect for Prayut, it did not stop him from going on an official tour around the country to tell people that he will take care of them and help them from flooding, falling crop prices and higher cost of living.
The government’s public relations team, right-wing media and the military’s propaganda machine were also working overtime since Prawit became caretaker PM with constant releases of his biography and military videos.
Prawit who in the past needed help to get out of his vehicles or to walk up and down the stairs is now getting out of his vehicle and walking around without any help from his aides.
All of this is to show that he still has what it takes to run the country.
Prayut tried to gain back some public relation time last week with a visit to check on the flooding in Ayutthaya province, but it backfired since he failed to even get out of his car to greet his supporters because as a defence minister, he has no good reason for being there.
Preparation for Possibility of Not Returning
What this looks like is that Prawit is already preparing for the possibility that Prayut might not be coming back to lead the government.
The Constitutional Court is meeting this Thursday to discuss whether they have enough evidence to make a ruling on Prayut’s 8-year premiership term limit. It would then make a verdict within 15-days thereafter.
If the court thinks they have enough evidence and they have listened to enough opinions from experts, they will go ahead and make the verdict.
If the decision is against him, Prayut would have no option but to vacate his seat and Prawit will take over, at least until the next general election when the term of this government ends in March 2023.
It will remain to be seen whether Palang Pracharath Party will nominate Prawit for the PM seat, but I am sure that he is tempted by it.
Why else would he be doing all of this personal public relations work?
Prior to being the caretaker PM, General Prawit used to fall asleep everywhere he went, as though he did not care about anything, but this sleeping beauty has finally started to remain awake during the functions he goes to.
But old habits die hard, he took a short nap during his visit yesterday to Krabi, but that was the first nap in nearly 2 weeks since he has taken up the job.
To save some face, Digital Economy and Society Minister Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn even feel the need to explain to the press that Prawit was not napping as he was just blinking but history says otherwise.
There must be a reason for all this show of strength and that motivation is to prepare for a political life without Prayut.
The sad thing is that no matter what, it would still either be Prayut or Prawit in the leadership position for now until the next elections.
There is no way around this unless Prayut willingly resigns and that is not going to happen either.
There is no censure debate or another Constitutional Court ruling that could break the legs of his chair after this.
Street protests are not going to gain momentum if it is still being led by veteran protest leaders such as Jatuporn Prompan and Nititorn Lamlua who are no longer relevant.
Prawit is preparing to take over and Prayut could still be coming back, that is the reality right now.
If Prawit does take over as interim Prime Minister, the first decision after taking over would be the reshuffling of the Cabinet which is most likely imminent after Deputy Interior Minister Niphon Bunyamanee finally resigned on Monday.
The position is being eyed by many coalition parties and Prawit would be more than willing to shuffle people close to him into ruling positions.
He denied on Monday that he is not looking to reshuffle the cabinet because as a caretaker PM, he does not have the power to do so.
This was weird because the Cabinet just amend an executive order last week to allow Prawit to be able to officially appoint people.
Despite what he said, there are at least 4 Cabinet seats that are vacant and need urgent reappointment and from his actions, he is already preparing for the reshuffle.
Prawit can continue to say that he does not want to be Prime Minister, but his actions were against his words and like many things, actions speak louder than words.