Many wonder about Yingluck’s ‘ice-cream gang’ and its power, a so-called gang of four who allegedly influenced Thailand’s prime minister’s decisions.

Many wonder about Yingluck’s ‘ice-cream gang’ and its power

He alleged that former PM Thaksin Shinawatra was unable to control Samak because of this gang. -The Nation/ANN
Sat, Jul 06, 2013
The Nation/Asia News Network

BANGKOK – Labour Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung dropped a bombshell on Thursday when he declared that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s “ice-cream gang” would end up dragging her down a ravine. This declaration gave rise to one simple question: Who is in this ice-cream gang and what influence do they have on her decisions? This is not the first time that Chalerm has spoken about an influential gang. During the tenure of the late ex-PM Samak Sundarvej, he talked about a so-called gang of four who allegedly influenced the prime minister’s decisions. The members of this gang were Newin Chidchob, former leader of the Northeast faction in the then-ruling People Power Party; then-deputy PM and finance minister Surapong Suebwonglee; then-deputy PM Sahas Banthitkul; and then-PM’s secretary-general Thirapol Noplampha. He alleged that former PM Thaksin Shinawatra was unable to control Samak because of this gang. During Abhisit Vejjajiva’s tenure, a so-called ice-cream gang 1 was allegedly present. Its members reportedly included then-PM’s Office minister Satit Wongnongtoey; former Democrat spokesman Thepthai Senpong; Democrat MP Sirichok Sopha; then-PM’s secretary-general Korbsak Sabhavasu; then-deputy PM’s secretary-general Issara Sunthornvut; and then-finance minister Korn Chatikavanij.It is widely believed that the second ice-cream gang includes the inner circle at Government House. They include PM’s secretary-general Suranand Vejjajiva; the government spokesman team; Yingluck’s husband Settha Thaweesin; Public Health Minister Pradit Sinthawanarong; Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong; and perhaps even Thawee Sodsong, secretary-general of the Southern Border Provinces Administration Centre.

Now it is believed that the finger is really being pointed at Suranand. On Thursday, soon after Chalerm complained to the press about this so-called ice-cream gang, Suranand posted a photograph of himself, Government Spokesman Teerat Ratanasevi and other members of staff eating ice cream.

The picture’s caption read that no “ice-cream gang” existed at Government House but that they all had good ties with Chalerm. This picture was taken while they were on a trip to Poland and Turkey with the prime minister.

Separately, many Pheu Thai MPs and red-shirt leaders have been saying that Yingluck tends to have more faith in Suranand than anybody else. This is because every time they try to propose something to the PM, she tells them to follow the procedure – in other words, the PM’s secretary-general must first vet the issue.

However, Suranand has gained the reputation of being choosy with what goes to the prime minister’s desk, and this has caused much dissatisfaction among MPs and red-shirt leaders.

Also, it was reported that only a few people in the inner-circle knew about the Cabinet reshuffle, and they analysed the qualifications of each and every candidate before Yingluck made a final decision.

Apparently, these members of the inner circle worked with Thaksin, his ex-wife Pojaman na Pombejra and his other sister Yaowapa Wongsawat to decide who was included in the new Cabinet line-up.

Party sources said that though Suranand has Pojaman’s backing, nobody had ever expected him to play such a large role in important issues and this is starting to make many people unhappy.

So, apart from mounting problems in the country, Yingluck might also end up having to deal with internal conflicts caused by her most trusted aide.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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