Don risks losing seat over shareholding

Don risks losing seat over shareholding

Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai speaks at a seminar in Bangkok last November. (Bangkok Post file photo)
Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai speaks at a seminar in Bangkok last November. (Bangkok Post file photo)

The Election Commission has ruled Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai might not be qualified as minister since his wife’s shareholding might be unconstitutional.

It will forward the case to the Constitutional Court for a ruling.

The issue was raised by Ruangkrai Leekitwattana, a Pheu Thai Party member, in May last year. Apart from Mr Don, eight others incumbent and former ministers whose shareholdings might be unconstitutional were included in the petition. They were accused of holding shares either in private companies or in firms operating businesses that benefit from state concessions.  

Mr Ruangkrai questioned whether the ministers might no longer be qualified after the charter took effect on April 6 last year. 

Section 187 of the 2017 constitution and a related law prohibit a minister from holding more than 5% of the registered capital or sellable shares of any company. If he wants to continue receiving benefits from the holding, he must inform the president of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) within 30 days from the appointment date and subsequently transfer the shares to a "blind trust" or an approved asset-management company within 90 days. The rule applies to his wife and children under 20 as well.

After receiving Mr Ruangkrai’s petition, the EC set up a panel to look into it. It found the shareholdings by the other eight ministers were not unconstitutional.

Mr Don’s case, however, is different since his wife holds more than 5% of the registered capital or sellable shares in a company but did not inform the NACC.

The EC agreed with the panel’s suggestions to drop the cases against the other eight ministers. In Mr Don’s case, the views split among the commissioners and the vote tied at 2-2 in the first round, forcing president Supachai Somcharoen to cast the deciding vote, resulting in 3-2 against Mr Don.

The other eight ministers are Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong, Digital Economy and Society Minister Pichet Durongkaveroj, Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana, Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam, former tourism and sports minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, ex-education minister ML Panadda Diskul and former labour minister Gen Sirichai Dittakul.  

Mr Ruangkrai also submitted another petition on allegedly controversial shareholdings of another three new ministers -- Transport Minister Pailin Chuchottaworn, Science and Technology Minister Suvit Maesincee and Education Minister Teerakiat Jareonsettasin, as well as 90 members of the National Legislative Assembly. The EC is still considering the cases. 

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