Democrats find Niphon replacement

The Democrat Party has proposed that Naris Khamnurak, its MP for Phatthalung, fill the deputy interior minister post left vacant by Niphon Bunyamanee, who quit last month to fight a court case.

Democrat leader Jurin Laksanawisit said he has informed Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha of the choice and it is now up to the premier, who has the final say, to proceed with the matter.

Mr Niphon resigned as deputy interior minister in early September to fight a malfeasance charge in connection with a case involving the Songkhla provincial administrative organisation (PAO) in 2013, when he served as its president.

Mr Jurin said he had no idea if coalition partners would seek a cabinet reshuffle amid speculation the ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) may take this opportunity to lobby for a shake-up.

The PPRP has yet to fill two cabinet seats left vacant by Capt Thamanat Prompow and Narumon Pinyosinwat, both of whom were removed by Gen Prayut last year.

Mr Jurin said despite strong competition for the deputy interior minister post, the party remains fully unified and its members respect the final decision.

According to a source, Gen Prayut reportedly asked Mr Jurin to “wait for the right moment” when they greeted each other at the end of a merit-making activity to mark the passing of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej The Great at Government House.

Deputy Prime Minister and PPRP leader Gen Prawit Wongsuwon, meanwhile, was tight-lipped about speculation that several party MPs may defect ahead of the general election.

He declined to respond to questions about the missing 50 million baht earmarked to pay compensation to tobacco farmers in Phetchabun and former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s offer to help with the drug policy.