Pheu Thai threatens audio proof of bribes

Pheu Thai threatens audio proof of bribes

B30m said to be the reward for defectors

The former ruling Pheu Thai Party yesterday threatened to record and release phone calls of "aggressive" attempts to poach former MPs from the party.

Party acting deputy spokesman Anusorn Iamsa-ard, who made the threat, said the party had not yet recorded any conversations between senior military officials and former MPs, but was considering it.

"It's not right to keep pressuring people who don't want to leave the party.

"If they [military officers] listen to us [and stop their aggressive moves], nothing will happen. But if they won't stop … an audio clip will come and will possibly be followed by a video clip," said Mr Anusorn.

He said some senior military officials had repeatedly approached former Pheu Thai MPs in Nakhon Ratchasima, for instance, and the latest offer made was 30 million baht for each of the so-called A-list former MPs to defect.

According to him, should a high-profile former MP also convince all other former MPs in his group to defect too, the reward promised rises to 100 million baht.

Those former MPs who refused to defect had encountered persistent telephone calls in which they were threatened that they would be in trouble with authorities, he said.

The callers even cited ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra as an example of a person facing numerous legal cases as a result of his refusal to co-operate, said Mr Anusorn.

"But no one here is actually afraid of that," he said.

Mr Anusorn was apparently referring to rumoured attempts by the Sam Mitr (Three Allies) group of politicians to pay former MPs from various parties to defect to Phalang Pracharat, which is reported to be a vehicle for securing Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha's return as prime minister after the next election.

Suchart Lainamngern, a former Pheu Thai MP for Lop Buri, said those former MPs the Sam Mitr group had successfully poached so far, account for less than 10% of the ones winning parliament seats in the last general election.

He likened most of the former MPs agreeing to defect to Phalang Pracharat to football players, saying the group has so far only been able to poach MPs who are on the reserve bench.

Mr Suchart earlier this week filed a petition with the Election Commission, demanding that the commission deny Phalang Pracharat's application to establish itself as a political party.

"I believe that all those mechanisms being put in place to pave the way for the military regime to cling on to power will eventually be destroyed, not by the politicians but the voters who love democracy," said Korkaew Pikulthong, a former Pheu Thai party-list MP and a key figure in the red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship.

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