The news follows an itinerary being shared across Phuket media today announcing that PM Prayut is to attend the event, to be held at Queen Sirikit Park in Phuket Town.
The itinerary was made public by the Phuket office of the Ministry of Culture.
However, the Phuket Culture Chief Komart Pankeard confirmed to The Phuket News today, “The schedule was issued just today (Sept 26) saying that Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha will attend the event, but I received a notice before midday that Culture Minister Itthiphol Kunplome will come instead.”
Asked why PM Prayut will not be attending, Mr Komart replied, “I don’t know.”
Mr Itthiphol is a former Mayor of Pattaya City. He was installed as Culture Minister in July by the new government following the national election held in March. (See story here.)
He is also one of three sons of Thai politician and businessman Somchai Kunplome (often also spelled as “Khunpluem”), who was well known by the nicknames “Kamnan Poh” and the “Godfather of Chonburi”.
Mr Somchai, a highly controversial figure, passed away in June this year. (See story here.)
Mr Itthiphol will now preside over an official opening ceremony and blessing ceremony held at Queen Sirikit Park to mark the start of the annual Phuket Vegetarian Festival.
The event will start at 5:30pm.
Mr Itthiphol is to be welcomed by Phuket Governor Phakaphong Tavipatana during the opening speeches, and join a special procession schedule to arrive at Saphan Hin at 7pm, after which he will also lead a prayer ceremony and make offerings to the Chinese gods honoured during the festival, and lead a ceremony to pay respects to His Majesty The King.
** The notice issued announcing Mr Itthipol's arrival confirmed that the special street procession was to be held on Sunday (Sept 29), but it was later confirmed to be held on Monday (Sept 30), as originally announced by Phuket Vice Governor Thanyawat Chanpinit. (See story here.)