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Pm Evasive On Niphon's 'resignation'

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DEMOCRAT POLITICS

PM evasive on Niphon's 'resignation'

By Piyanart Srivalo

Hassaya Chartmontree

Samatcha Hoonsara

The Nation

Published on October 2, 2009

Suthep, Chuan not happy with development but some Democrats ok

Two options are being considered amid reports of the possible resignation of secretary-general to the PM, Niphon Promphan. According to Democrat sources who asked not to be named, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva remains undecided on how to tackle such an eventuality.

A government source said that as a compromise people close to Abhisit are pushing for a position swap between PM's adviser Apirak Kosayodhin and Niphon.

Another anonymous source said an option proposed by the Democrats was that Deputy Prime Minister Korbsak Sabhavasu replace Niphon, and senior Democrat MP Trairong Suwankiri replace Korbsak. The source said Abhisit had not decided and was asking for more time to consider.

Abhisit was evasive yesterday when asked about Niphon's departure.

Niphon was absent from work and Abhisit said he had learned his secretary-general "was not feeling well". In response to whether he had approved Niphon's resignation, Abhisit said, "I'm not sure for how many days, I haven't seen Niphon, maybe two-three days."

Reporters referred to his remark earlier that Niphon was not feeling well and asked if he had visited him. The prime minister said, "No. I met him the other day and he said he was not feeling well."

Asked whether Niphon had already submitted his resignation letter, Abhisit said, "Pardon? You have to ask Niphon."

Abhisit is expected to talk to Niphon before making a decision, but he had not managed to contact him by phone during the day.

Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said yesterday Niphon might have resigned, but he said he had not yet seen his resignation.

"It's possible - but you must ask him about his reason," Suthep responded when a reporter asked him whether Niphon had submitted his resignation.

"Niphon is not a tricky person. He doesn't use tricks to do anything. If he does something, he must do it clearly. That's why I don't believe he is doing this because he wants to pressure [for the police chief appointment]. It's not [the reason]. I don't want people to get Niphon wrong," Suthep said.

Suthep said Niphon's resignation would not hurt the party as Niphon would still be deputy party leader.

Democrat chief adviser Chuan Leekpai said he had no knowledge of Niphon's resignation. However, he would like Niphon to stay as secretary-general to the PM as Niphon is experienced in administration and budget management. Niphon was a PM's secretary-general when Chuan was premier for the second time.

Niphon was appointed to the position on Chuan's advice. With Niphon's management experience and political connections, Chuan thought, and as a former PM's secretary-general, Niphon would strengthen Abhisit's administrative team.

Although Niphon kept his distance from the premier by not getting too involved with his business, he sometimes advised Abhisit on how to deal with coalition partners. But the premier often turned down his advice. They reportedly did not get along well.

On the premier's 45th birthday last August, Abhisit was heard to say jokingly to Niphon that he would not ask for any birthday gift from his secretary-general. All he wanted was Niphon to come to work earlier than the premier. The remark was heard by Government House reporters, who said Niphon appeared awkward.

The relationship between the prime minister and his secretary-general turned seriously sour when the pair pushed for different candidates for the new police chief.

While Niphon and deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban supported Pol General Jumpol Manmai, Abhisit insisted on proposing Pol General Patheep Tanprasert. Twice Abhisit had to delay the Royal Thai Police board's meeting on the police chief's appointment when the premier failed to get endorsement for Patheep.

The post of police chief became the last straw when the premier appointed his favoured candidate, Patheep, as acting police chief and it seemed Patheep might serve as acting chief until his retirement next year.

Niphon, who is a person with "special" status, may have no choice but to resign, claiming responsibility for failing to push Jumpol as the police chief.

PM's adviser Apirak, a former Bangkok governor who is among candidates to replace Niphon if he resigns, said nobody had discussed the issue with him.

Democrat MPs at Parliament yesterday said they were happy to hear Niphon was resigning as they had been angry about Niphon and Suthep following and caring too much for the coalition parties, especially Bhum Jai Thai.

The rise of Niphon

Niphon Promphan has held the PM's secretary-general post twice, his first being during Chuan Leekpai's second term as premier. The 57-year-old Nakhon Ratchasima MP is also deputy leader of the Democrat Party. During Chuan's government, Niphon was agriculture minister and his brother-in-law Suthep Thaugsuban was his deputy, when they were attacked over Sor Por Kor 4-01 (land reform) scandal. Though Niphon resigned, the opposition did not stop attacking the government until Chuan dissolved the House. It was once said that Niphon and Suthep are like the yin and yang - Niphon being soft spoken and compromising, Suthep being hot headed and impulsive.

Though Niphon has been keeping a low profile in Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's government, he made the headlines when the red shirts during an anti-government rally attacked him in April and more recently, he re-surfaced in the news for voting against Abhisit's nominee for the national police chief post.

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-- The Nation 2009/10/02

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Gadz Zeus, we're really getting in to the minutae of Thai politics.

File it under the 'reading the tea leaves' department. In other words:

Those at the top cannot say what they think.

That's just as well, because they can't think outside of the constrictions

of what their parties dictate.

Their party heads have not had original or innovative policies in mule years.

Sounds a lot like the way the mafia does its business.

When will the government get to the business of governing? ....and try to grow out of its incessant internecine squabbling?

They're like schoolyard full of older kids so busy hassling, that none notice the school building crumbling from neglect. Even when cries for assistance from the periphery are heard, the kids can only come up with repair ideas which cost 1,000 times more than the repairs in the real world, and take years longer than they should.

If Thailand can bumble along with a disfunctional government, let's just fire all government employees and bosses, and use the money saved on salaries - for something more worthwhile.

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Old guard, but younger cadre, doesn't get enough power and so get's testy,

so does a sick out and hints at resignation to see who salutes the red herring at the mast head.

If his bluff is called he is back to the hustings. If not maybe more power,

but I think he over-played his hand with the police chief fight and is feeling publicly defaced...

Oh the boss dissed me, I better threaten to quit. Then maybe he will publicly ask me to stay,

and I look like a player again.

Duh, or not....

and Abhisit is just quietly waiting to see which way he floats.

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UPDATE

Situation concerning Niphon to be clarified : PM

By Piyanart Srivalo

Samatcha Hoonsara

Bancha Khaengkhan

The Nation

Published on October 3, 2009

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva yesterday said the matter of the reported resignation of the PM's secretary-general would be clarified on Monday.

He vowed not to yield to pressure over the issue and to continue to abide by what was in the public interest.

He was speaking following strong reports on Thursday of Niphon Promphan's resignation, although there was no confirmation yesterday of whether he had actually submitted his resignation.

Abhisit also declined to confirm reports that the former director-general of the Comptroller-General's Department, Piyapan Nimmanhaeminda, had resigned as a member of the police executive board.

He asked people spreading rumours related to the police to stop doing so.

Abhisit said problems concerning police affairs were difficult to solve, as politicians had interfered in the force's organisation for a long time.

He would try to solve the problems as far as his authority permits him to do so, but would not interfere in the authority of others.

The premier said the organisation of the police force warranted further reform, but acting national police chief Patheep Tanprasert, whom he appointed earlier this week, was only a caretaker and the reform process would involve much work and time to achieve.

However, Abhisit said he had told Patheep to repair the bad reputation of the police and to eradicate persistent nationwide problems such as gambling and drugs, as well as the violence in the deep South.

In a related development, the Democrats yesterday denied there were factions within the party, and also that there could be a swap between a deputy prime minister and the current PM's secretary-general.

Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, as Democrat Party secretary-general, denied that the party had three factions, one of which was supposedly headed by himself and Niphon.

"We have unity in the party. I am the secretary-general and I can take care of the party well. There's no problem," he said.

He added that he had not heard the reports that the Democrats were pushing for Niphon and Deputy Prime Minister Korbsak Sabhavasu to swap positions.

PM's Office Minister Satit Wongnongtaey also laughed off the reports of factions developing within the party, and of a possible swap between Niphon and Korbsak.

He said Niphon was one of the people who supported Abhisit as party leader and prime minister, and would never resign to put pressure on him.

Niphon remains PM's secretary-general and his team is still working for Abhisit's government, he added.

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-- The Nation 2009/10/03

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UPDATE

Niphon firm on quitting

By BANCHA KHAENGKHAN

THE NATION ON SUNDAY

Published on October 4, 2009

Suthep, Chuan fail to convince PM's secretary-general to take back resignation

Many key Democrat Party figures failed to persuade Niphon Phromphan to continue as the prime minister's secretary-general, party sources said yesterday.

Democrat heavyweights such as Chuan Leekpai, the former leader who is now the party's chief adviser, and secretary-general Suthep Thaugsuban, who is Niphon's brother-in-law, tried unsuccessfully to change his mind after he decided to tender his resignation, according to the sources.

Niphon has not made it clear publicly about media reports of his imminent departure and even his boss, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, has declined to confirm the reports. Abhisit on Friday said that, "everything will be clear" tomorrow.

Niphon, who is a deputy Democrat leader, could not be reached for comment yesterday. Earlier reports said he did not return calls by reporters since speculation of his resignation emerged in the past week.

Deputy Prime Minister Suthep called Niphon and urged him to stay on until the end of this government "regardless of what was going to happen", according to a Democrat source. Suthep asked Niphon to retain his role as a coordinator among the coalition parties to help maintain its stability.

The source said Suthep told Niphon that the prime minister had seen his resignation but would wait until tomorrow whether to approve it so Niphon still had time to change his mind.

Niphon reportedly was upset by the prime minister's decision to appoint General Patheep Tanprasert as the acting National Police chief, and not his favoured candidate, General Jumpol Manmai. Disagreement within the government as to who should be the next police chief has delayed a decision by the Royal Thai Police's executive board on a successor to General Patcharawat Wongsuwan, who retired at the end of September.

Democrat sources said Niphon remained firm he would quit as the PM's secretary-general. Suthep later informed Abhisit about Niphon's decision.

The sources said the prime minister would not have a problem in finding a suitable replacement for Niphon. Despite calls by some Democrat colleagues for Deputy Prime Minister Korbsak Sabhavasu to assume the job, Abhisit wanted him to remain in his present position.

Abhisit, who is the Democrat leader, was looking at party MP Juti Krairiksh as a possible replacement for Niphon, according to one of the sources. However, to comply with the rule prohibiting MPs from becoming political appointees, Juti would need to resign first, which would result in a by-election. However, the premier was not sure if the party would find an equally qualified candidate for the resulting by-election, the source said. The PM would consult party seniors about Niphon's replacement who is not an MP.

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-- The Nation 2009/10/04

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