ArrowArtboardCreated with Sketch.Title ChevronTitle ChevronEye IconIcon FacebookIcon LinkedinIcon Mail ContactPath LayerIcon MailPositive ArrowIcon PrintTitle ChevronIcon Twitter
Turbulent Thailand

Thailand's finance chief leads exit of reformers from ruling party

Resignation by ex-party head Uttama ramps up pressure for cabinet reshuffle

Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana is an economic reformer locked in an intraparty feud with military hardliners.   © Reuters

BANGKOK -- Thailand's finance minister resigned Thursday from the ruling party he once headed, forming an exodus with three other technocratic officials sidelined by the party that is increasingly dominated by members with military ties.

Uttama Savanayana said he will stay on as Thailand's finance chief. But his exit from the Palang Pracharath Party, the largest in the 19-party governing coalition, puts additional pressure on Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha to reshuffle his cabinet.

"It's up to Prayuth to decide to reorganize the cabinet," Uttama told reporters Thursday.

Uttama had been tapped to lead the party as an academic, which party elites hoped would downplay its military connections. His resignation was another turn in the tug-of-war between economic reformers and hard-liners and comes at a time when the country looks to pull its economy out of the doldrums brought about the coronavirus.

Energy Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong and Suvit Maesincee, the minister of higher education, also resigned from Palang along with Uttama. They were joined by Kobsak Pootrakool, the deputy secretary-general at the prime minister's office.

All four men are close to the economic reformer, Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak. Factional fighting with Palang's military contingent led to the replacement of Uttama at the head of the party by former army chief Prawit Wongsuwan.

Sontirat, Suvit and Kobsak were also removed from their positions as senior Palang officers.

Somkid has pushed for opening up the market to foreign investment and for Thailand to participate in the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. Unhappy with the Somkid faction's hold on economic policy posts, 18 senior officials resigned from Palang, triggering the intraparty election late last month to oust Uttama.

These developments raise the potential of Prayuth forming a new cabinet packed with protectionists, putting the economic reformers in the back seat.

Sponsored Content

About Sponsored Content This content was commissioned by Nikkei's Global Business Bureau.

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this monthThis is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia;
the most dynamic market in the world.

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia

Get trusted insights from experts within Asia itself.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 1 month for $0.99

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this month

This is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia; the most
dynamic market in the world
.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 3 months for $9

Offer ends October 31st

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers and subscribe

Your full access to Nikkei Asia has expired

You need a subscription to:

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers
NAR on print phone, device, and tablet media

Nikkei Asian Review, now known as Nikkei Asia, will be the voice of the Asian Century.

Celebrate our next chapter
Free access for everyone - Sep. 30

Find out more