Prayut in work-from-anywhere mode

Suspended PM still busy as defence minister but says he’ll only go to ministry HQ when needed

published :
25 Aug 2022 at 19:18

Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, in his role as defence minister, chairs a meeting of the Defence Council via video link from his residence on Thursday. (Photo supplied)

Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, temporarily suspended from prime ministerial duties, is adjusting to working from home and anywhere outside government offices, according to sources.

Gen Prayut stopped entering Government House on Wednesday after the Constitutional Court ordered him to step aside from the PM’s position pending its ruling on whether he has reached the end of his eight-year term in line with the limit set out in the 2017 constitution.

However, he continues to serve in the cabinet in his concurrent capacity as the defence minister. Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon is serving as acting prime minister.

On Thursday, the defence minister chaired a meeting of the Defence Council organised at the Defence Ministry, but he attended via teleconferenmce from his residence in the 1st Infantry Regiment in Phaya Thai district.

He had been scheduled to chair the meeting at the ministry at 1.30pm but informed officials a half-hour beforehand that he’d join them via video instead, said Gen Kongcheep Tantrawanit, the spokesman for the ministry.

According to Gen Kongcheep, Gen Prayut told the chiefs of the armed forces as well as the permanent secretary for defence and high-level military officers at the meeting that they did not have to worry about him. They could continue with their normal work as he was also proceeding with his duties, he said.

“Gen Prayut is still the prime minister because the Constitutional Court suspended his duty to wait for its ruling. He also remains as the defence minister,” the spokesman said.

Gen Kongcheep said he had no idea when Gen Prayut would enter the Defence Ministry and that decision-making would be day-by-day.

The 68-year-old retired soldier could take part in videoconferences and sign documents anywhere as there is also a deputy defence minister, said Gen Kongcheep, referring to Chaichan Changmongkol.

Offices, meeting rooms and officers at the Defence Ministry were always ready to accommodate Gen Prayut and he could issue orders and policies anytime, Gen Kongcheep added.

A source at the Defence Ministry quoted Gen Prayut as telling the Defence Council that he was adapting to his new working environment. His staff said he would enter the ministry when he had tasks that needed to be done there.

Otherwise, Gen Prayut would sign documents at his residence, the source said.

Gen Prawit, meanwhile, held his first meeting of his first day as caretaker PM in a familiar place: the Five Provinces Bordering Forest Preservation Foundation. The headquarters of the military-backed foundation, which he chairs, is located on military property and is the place where he prefers to conduct political business whenever possible.

Do you like the content of this article?