Saturday, September 10, 2011

Where is the annual military reshuffle list?

Where is the annual military reshuffle list? Has Premier Yingluck submitted it for royal approval? Or are last-minute negotiations still on?

Military affairs reporters are abuzz with questions on whether Thaksin Shinawatra, through PM Yingluck, has struck a compromise with Defence Minister Gen Yuthasak Sasiprapa over some important military appointments.

The main issue seems to be who's going to be the new permanent secretary of defence. According to reports, the minister wants Gen Witawas Rajatanant, the current No 2, while the PM has told him that Gen Satien Permtong-in, currently the chairman of the armed forces advisory board. The latter is known to be closer to Pheu Thai Party. Nobody knows whether an agreement has been struck.

There are also the questions about the defence minister not being too happy with the fact that he doesn't seem to have any authority when it comes to the military reshuffle. The 2008 Defence Act stipulates that a seven-member committee comprising mostly the top brass make decisions on who goes where in the armed forces. The defence minister may chair the panel but he doesn't have the final say.

The law was designed to prevent political interference in the military appointments. Now, Defence Minister Yuthasak feels that he is powerless. He has therefore let it be known that he will seek a legal interpretation from the Juridical Council on his real power in the scheme of things.

From reports I get, the defence minister was willing to go along with the proposed reshuffle lists from all the top brass but he insists that his choice of the new defence permanent secretary must be respected.

Now, Thaksin can't be too happy that he doesn't have a say in this matter too. He may be willing to compromise for the sake of not rocking the boat in the armed forces too soon but there are some obvious changes he wants to make to the military line-up. But things don't seem to have run all that smoothly.And PM Yingluck isn't saying where the final list is now.

The law says the list must be approved in its final form at least 15 days before the new fiscal year begins on Oct 1. That means the deadline falls on Monday or Tuesday.

Stay tuned!

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