BANGKOK, Thailand — Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra unveiled his Cabinet on Saturday, handing many of the top jobs to close friends, including a U.S.-educated marketing guru who was named finance minister.
King Bhumibol Adulyadej gave Thaksin his formal approval for the 36-member Cabinet during a 20-minute audience at his seaside palace in Hua Hin, south of Bangkok, Cabinet secretary Visanu Kruengam said. The Cabinet will be sworn in today.
In choosing his ministers, Thaksin, 51, rewarded top members of his Thais Love Thais party, almost all of them his trusted lieutenants, for managing his landslide victory in the Jan. 6 parliamentary election.
The most important post, that of finance minister, went to marketing expert Somkid Jatusripitak, 48, who has never been in government before. He faces the challenge of pulling Thailand out of the economic mess created by the 1997 Asian financial crisis that eliminated jobs, drove away investment and created massive debts for banks and companies.
The Foreign Ministry post went to Surakiart Sathirathai, who had a dubious record as a finance minister in a previous government. The Defense Ministry post was given to Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, a former army general who was prime minister when Thailand's economy collapsed in 1997.