Samak promises to revamp cabinet

No snap election, he tells coalition allies

PRADIT RUANGDIT

Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej has promised coalition parties there will be a major cabinet reshuffle to streamline the government's performance, according to a source in the People Power party (PPP). Mr Samak has repeatedly ruled out dissolving the House as it could put the PPP at a disadvantage in a general election, the source said.

The party's popularity appears to have slipped because of the Preah Vihear controversy.

Mr Samak told coalition party leaders the government will not bow out because there are still important tasks to accomplish, the source added.

These are expected to include charter amendments and the passage of the next fiscal year's budget.

Mr Samak has made a major cabinet reshuffle a priority to improve the government's performance.

The Election Commission (EC) is likely to set up a panel to decide if it will pursue the dissolution of the PPP in the wake of the guilty verdict against former deputy leader Yongyuth Tiyapairat on vote-buying charges. The Supreme Court disqualified Mr Yongyuth as a list MP of the PPP and suspended him from politics for five years.

The PPP could be dissolved if Mr Yongyuth, as a former party executive, is found to have bought votes with the knowledge of the party.

EC secretary-general Suthiphon Thaveechaiygarn said the commission may take up the dissolution case, as it has with the Chart Thai and Matchimathipataya parties, whose executives were also charged with electoral fraud.

The EC asked the Office of the Attorney-General to seek a Supreme Court order to disband both parties.

''First there should be a committee to consider [dissolving the PPP] in a similar manner to the proceedings against the Chart Thai and Matchimathipataya parties,'' Mr Suthiphon said.

On Tuesday the Supreme Court's election division disqualified Mr Yongyuth after finding him guilty of buying support from local community leaders in Chiang Rai to vote for his sister La-ong Tiyapairat, who ran in Chiang Rai in the Dec 23 election.

Earlier Chart Thai deputy secretary-general Monthien Songpracha and Matchimathipataya deputy leader Sunthorn Wilawan were suspended from politics for poll fraud.

The Office of the Attorney-General recently rejected the EC's recommendation that the Chart Thai and Matchimathipataya parties be disbanded. However, the prosecution and the EC are now working together to make the cases against the two parties strong enough for an indictment. They are expected to announce today if court proceedings will go ahead.

Mr Suthiphon said yesterday he was not aware that a new political party had been formed to accommodate the PPP MPs if the PPP is dissolved.

The Puea Thai party, dubbed the ''spare parts'' of the PPP, was reportedly registered on Sept 20 last year. Its head office is at the Nawasorn Building on Rama III road in Bang Kholaem district of Bangkok and its logo resembles that of the PPP.

Bangkok Post