Whistleblower risks losing his way

Whistleblower risks losing his way

Whistleblower Chuvit Kamolvisit accuses Transport Minister and secretary-general of the Bhumjaithai Party Saksayam Chidchob of encroaching on public land in Buri Ram province. Somchai Poomlard
Whistleblower Chuvit Kamolvisit accuses Transport Minister and secretary-general of the Bhumjaithai Party Saksayam Chidchob of encroaching on public land in Buri Ram province. Somchai Poomlard

Thanks to whistleblower Chuvit Kamolvisit for his latest exposure of a major online gambling network, allegedly operated by a police officer attached to the logistics department, popularly known as "Inspector Sua", the Central Investigation Bureau police on Friday launched coordinated raids at 63 targets in six provinces.

Six suspects were arrested, but not the inspector. Police did, however, seize assets including hundreds of land title deeds and more than 180 bank books, worth an estimated 1.4 billion baht.

Earlier, Mr Chuvit dropped a bombshell in exposing illicit businesses -- starting with Chinese grey business operations in Thailand to the "Macau 888" online gambling operations, and funding for the Kong Salak Plus online lottery dealer, which some suspect comes from online gambling operations.

His revelations led to the arrest of dozens of Chinese businessmen, including Tuhao, and arrest warrants being issued against the four "Bor" brothers, one of them a police officer, alleged to be the ring leaders behind the "Macau 888" online gambling network.

Mr Chuvit also implicated a police general for being behind Inspector Sua's gambling network in the guise of the Pentor Group of about 50 companies. But there was no mention of the police general when the national police chief, Pol Gen Damrongsak Kittipraphat, told the media about the raids on the Pentor Group on Friday.

Doubtless, the former massage parlour tycoon has won kudos from many people for his daring one-man crusade against corrupt police and the illegal gambling business.

Of late however, Mr Chuvit has suddenly changed tack to focus on attacking the Bhumjaithai Party over its liberal cannabis policy, prompting suspicions that he may have some hidden agenda against the party.

Alternately, he may have changed from fearless whistleblower to hired gun bent on discrediting and undermining Bhumjaithai now the election countdown has started.

In his dramatic desire to remain in the public limelight, he chose Government House as the venue for his protest and brought a red table, three students and a few cannabis plants with him.

The timing of his protest coincided with the closure of the parliamentary session, signalling the start of the countdown to the election, tentatively scheduled for May 7.

Conspicuously, the students had their faces covered with face masks and each wore a hat to conceal their identity.

His attack on the cannabis policy has started to backfire on him as the cannabis policy is a divisive issue.

Advocates include traditional medicine practitioners and patients who have benefited from gaining easy access to cannabis.

As he attacked Bhumjaithai, Mr Chuvit said a ministerial regulation issued by the Ministry of Public Health, headed by party leader, Anutin Charnvirakul, and which came into effect on June 16 last year, opened the door to Thai youth gaining easy access to weed for recreational purposes.

It needs to be said the regulation was around for about six months before it was replaced by a new one, effective on Nov 24, to tighten up control on the use of weed for non-commercial purposes.

But Mr Chuvit had never criticised the regulation or the cannabis bill, still pending in parliament after its first reading, until his dramatic protest on Feb 28.

So, why now? Did he just wake up to the danger of cannabis to Thai youth? Or did someone prod him to protest?

Interestingly, as he lambasted Mr Anutin and his Bhumjaithai Party, there was a corner on the ground floor of Mr Chuvit's Davis Bangkok hotel in Sukhumvit Soi 24 where a bar, the Chuweed Bar, is located.

The bar offers California cannabis, a high-grade weed, and a concoction of cannabis drinks in a cosy atmosphere.

Was Mr Chuvit too busy to check around his hotel before he decided to venture into the dirty politics of mud-slinging during the campaign?

But never mind, he managed to come up with the hollow claim that the shop was rented out to someone else.

When public health inspectors checked his hotel to take a look at the licence of Chuweed Bar, the whistleblower reacted like hornets whose nest had been disturbed.

He went ballistic, blasting the officials, Mr Anutin and Bhumjaithai Party, spitting at documents, and sweeping the cannabis merchandise onto the floor.

Mr Chuvit also accused Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchod, secretary-general of Bhumjaithai, of interfering in the bidding for construction of the Orange Line train project from Bang Khun Non to Min Buri, resulting in a change to the ToR, cancellation of the first bid round and the holding of a second round and a resulting courtroom battle.

Finally, BEM (Bangkok Expressway and Metro) was awarded the contract instead of BTSC (Bangkok Mass Transit System), the current operator of the BTS skytrain.

Mr Chuvit has done a great job in exposing alleged corrupt police involvement in online gambling operations and other grey business. But that is the start.

There are more illegal activities implicating the police waiting to be exposed by a man like Mr Chuvit.

He should stick his guns in this area where he will shine and endear himself to the public rather than venturing into other areas where critics could accuse him of politicking.

Veera Prateepchaikul is former editor, Bangkok Post.

Veera Prateepchaikul

Former Editor

Former Bangkok Post Editor, political commentator and a regular columnist at Post Publishing.

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