Series of sweeping and serious allegations made by the MP in parliament who is known for his progressive politics has already led to one defamation lawsuit issued by a senior senator with reports that others are also readying to take legal action against him. The two-day debate in parliament last week was considered by many as highly damaging to the government as the kingdom faces wave after wave of corruption scandals linked to the police but with the finger gradually pointing in the direction of government officials.
On Monday, the Ruam Thai Sang Chart Party (RTSC), the political party behind General Prayut Chan ocha’s bid to return to power in this year’s General Election came out to strongly condemn as ‘irresponsible’ claims made by the firebrand Move Forward Party MP, Rangsiman Rome, who last week revealed that the party’s headquarters were owned by a senior sitting senator who is at the centre of controversy after the MP revealed that the Royal Thai Police sought to arrest him in relation to a drug trafficking and money laundering investigation. The sensational claims made during a Section 152 debate in parliament, last week, have already led to the senator issuing a defamation writ seeking ฿100 million in damages from the Bangkok-based MP who has promised to use any court proceedings to vent the full details behind his claims.
Following a bruising two days in parliament last week during a Section 152 general debate on the government’s performance, the opposition Move Forward Party has been praised for scoring several direct hits on the government in the current climate with new corruption revelations on an almost daily basis which threatens to undermine the prime minister’s efforts to campaign his way back into the top job after the General Election scheduled for May 7th next.
The seemingly endless series of scandals coming in waves and linked to corrupt practices within the Royal Thai Police have been spearheaded by disclosures by whistleblower Chuwit Kamolvisit and dealing with illicit flows of money linked with drug trafficking, online gambling and prostitution have begun recently to point in the direction of government or state officials as the public and indeed rank and file members of the police force are increasingly disturbed.
Suphan Buri police sergeant with impeccable record resigns from the force citing endemic corruption
A Suphan Buri police sergeant, in recent days, has published his letter of resignation from the force in protest at endemic corruption. The officer pointed out that he had never faced disciplinary proceedings or accusations of wrongdoing at any point in his career.
He said he was resigning due to a culture which he described as the ‘protection of the guilty’ and ‘neglect for honest officers’ which he said was sapping morale.
A fellow officer said he too would resign but was not in a position to do so because of pressing debts.
With a raft of revelations, last week, by Mr Rangsiman Rome which has already seen the arrest of a Chinese visa holder with alleged links to triad gangs and allegations centring on the senator who was allegedly the subject of a request by police to issue an arrest warrant because of suspected links to drug trafficking and money laundering activity, Bangkok firebrand MP, Rangsiman Rome stood out during the debate and is already paying the price.
Former minister Captain Thamanat Prompow warns that Rangsiman Rome may face further defamation lawsuits from officials over his revelations
Speaking on Monday to the media, controversial Phayao province MP for the Palang Pracharat Party after his recent return to its fold, Captain Thamanat Prompow who was also the subject of allegations made by Mr Rangsiman, said that although he was not going to issue legal proceedings against the opposition MP, others including public officials were adamant they would do so.
The former deputy minister of agriculture said that he was surprised to be targeted in the debate as he was not a sitting government minister.
Mr Thamanat was himself at the centre of controversy. In 2019, after he was appointed to the cabinet, an Australian newspaper revealed that he had a criminal history in Australia relating to drug trafficking.
This was later the subject of a review by the Constitutional Court in 2021 which found that Mr Thamanat was not debarred from holding office in Thailand as the offence was committed outside the kingdom.
Defamation proceedings swiftly issued against Move Forward Party MP for ฿100 million in damages by the sitting senator at the centre of his shock claims
The senator at the centre of the claims made by Mr Rangsiman has issued legal proceedings in the civil court for defamation against the Bangkok MP seeking ฿100 million in damages.
On Saturday, Mr Rangsiman responded that the lawsuit was an effort to silence him and his party for doing their job holding public office holders accountable in parliament.
He pointed out that although police had earlier rescinded a request for an arrest warrant for the wealthy senator, such a move would become possible after February 28th when the current parliamentary session is due to expire.
The senator is currently protected by privilege and can only be summoned by police investigating a drug cartel which saw a relative of the senator arrested in September last year and who recently appeared in court together with a foreign tycoon on such charges.
The senator in question has vociferously denied any links with illegal activity although he has conceded doing legititimate business in the past with the foreign national and is related through marriage to the other accused party.
Metropolitan Police Bureau police operation last year saw Burmese tycoon arrested and ฿1.8 billion in assets seized linked with money laundering
The police operation last year, led by the Metropolitan Police Bureau, saw ฿1.8 billion seized from a foreign tycoon with close links to the government of a neighbouring country.
The senator at the time denied any involvement in that affair although he did acknowledge that the arrested individuals were known to him.
Mr Rangsiman also revealed, last week, that the land on which the Ruam Thai Sang Chart Party (RTSC) headquarters was situated in Bangkok was owned by the senator, a former military officer.
Political party behind the Prime Minister’s bid to return to power is gaining strength in regional polls as he robustly rejects corruption claims
General Prayut is the presumed prime ministerial nominee for the party which was only established in 2021 by one of his most ardent supporters, Seksakol Atthawong.
It has come from nowhere to polling between 16% and 20% in ongoing regional polls around the country driven by rising support for the incumbent government leader at the expense of the Palang Pracharat Party and the Bhumjaithai Party.
During the two-day debate, which ended last Thursday, Mr Rangsiman also made charges against relatives of Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha linking them to the activities of Chinese triad boss Chaiyanat Kornchayanant.
General Prayut hit back at parliamentary allegations, pointing the finger at Pheu Thai and the Shinawatra family. Defended his anti-corruption efforts
However, General Prayut while not engaging with such claims directly, hit back strongly and pointed out that the citizenship granted to the leading triad boss Chaiyanat Kornchayanant, although finally signed off by Minister of the Interior, General Anupong Paochinda in late 2014, was approved initially by the previous government led by former Pheu Thai Party prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra as the Chinese national entered Thailand originally in 2011, the year that government came to power.
The PM also raised concerns that a real estate company with links to the Shinawatra family had sold a large number of houses on an exclusive and extremely expensive housing estate, investigated by police, near Bangkok, to Mr Chaiyanat and his cronies.
‘If you probe further, you may find out that Kornchayanant’s Thai wife has connections with former ministers in some parties,’ General Prayut revealed.
He underlined that his government has no policy of granting Thai citizenship to those who purchase real estate in the kingdom.
He pointed out that he had personally received the exclusive report submitted to the government by Mr Chuwit Kamolvisit detailing the involvement of the Royal Thai Police in illicit activities and particularly the operation of illegal online gambling websites of gargantuan proportions generating billions of dollars per annum.
PM says he always did the right thing
The PM said he urged the police to investigate the matters put before them in this respect. He was certain he had done the right thing.
He assured the public that he has never interfered in the administration of justice either through directing the police or bringing influence to bear on the country’s judicial system and processes.
The resultant crackdown has seen the triad gang so far being smashed by a robust police campaign which has seen 40 suspects arrested and held without bail by the Criminal Court
Mr Rangsiman called on the prime minister to clarify his family’s links with the Chinese kingpin based on revelations made by whistleblower Chuwit Kamolvisit.
The opposition MP said it would help alleviate public concern and also called on the Office of the Attorney-General (OAG) to examine the allegations directly.
Ruam Thai Sang Chart strongly refutes Rangsiman’s allegations as irresponsible and unworthy of an MP in parliament claiming to act for the public good
On Monday, the Ruam Thai Sang Chart Party (RTSC) came out strongly to distance itself and the prime minister from the claims made by the Move Forward Party MP in the parliament debate last week.
It said that there had never been any criminal proceedings or charges brought concerning the senator being referred to by Mr Rangsiman. It clarified that the respected upper house member is not in any way linked to the new political party.
It said that the accusations made by Mr Rangsiman were neither directly nor indirectly related, in any way, to the Ruam Thai Sang Chart Party (RTSC).
It further pointed out that Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha only joined the party on January 9th last and that it had only been occupying the office in question since August 2022.
The party statement accused Mr Rangsiman of acting in a manner unbecoming an MP who wished to serve the public interest.
It said the statements made by him have led to a misunderstanding by the public and were irresponsible.
The party clarified that as the lessee of a property, it has no link to the activities of the lessor and could not be held responsible for the actions of third parties.
It said that Mr Rangsiman’s revelations, reportedly passed on to him some weeks ago by Mr Chuwit Kamolvisit, were deeply unethical and a violation of legal principles.
Move Forward Party MP receives support from colleagues in parliament. MP warns that a defamation trial may help reveal the full extent of the claims
The Move Forward Party MP has received support from other Move Forward Party MPs including Mr Teeratchai Phantumas, a party list MP.
He categorised the statement of the progressive MP as having been made in good faith in the service of the public. He said that Mr Rangsiman did not set out to insult or cause injury to anyone.
He emphasised that any potential legal case would allow the MP to issue subpoenas to witnesses and discover documents to expose the claims the MP has made before a court, claims he insisted can be proven before the law while also on public record.
He wondered if the plaintiff will ultimately follow through with the case.