Thamanat in firing line as opposition eyes censure

Thamanat in firing line as opposition eyes censure

Deputy Agriculture Minister Thamanat Prompow (third from right) visits the chicken farm owned by Palang Pracharath MP Pareena Kraikupt on Saturday after she agreee to hand over the land to authorities. (Photo by Saichon Srinuanchan)
Deputy Agriculture Minister Thamanat Prompow (third from right) visits the chicken farm owned by Palang Pracharath MP Pareena Kraikupt on Saturday after she agreee to hand over the land to authorities. (Photo by Saichon Srinuanchan)

Deputy Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Thamanat Prompow on Wednesday brushed aside speculation he could become a target in a censure debate over the handling of Sor Por Kor land occupied by fellow Palang Pracharath MP Pareena Kraikupt.

Capt Thamanat, who oversees the Agricultural Land Reform Office (Alro), said he has instructed Alro officials to launch an inquiry into Ms Pareena's land-holding and is ready to take opposition questions in the House.

He said Alro had to work within the law, which did not include tracking down suspicious land occupation. It can take legal action only when land-holders resist a Sor Por Kor land survey.

He insisted that the law was being enforced indiscriminately — for Ms Pareena and anyone else suspected of occupying Sor Por Kor land.

Asked whether political responsibility had a bearing on the case, he said it was an individual matter and it was not his place to speak for others.

The minister is facing criticism for allegedly trying to help Ms Pareena out of trouble, as the Arlo has yet to take legal action against the MP over accusations she illegally acquired 682 rai of Sor Por Kor land and is encroaching on 46 rai of state forest in the province.

The Royal Forest Department determined which agency has jurisdiction over the 682-rai plot. The land in question originally came under the department before it was transferred to the Alro in 2014 for distribution to poor farmers as part of a land-reform programme. 

Last Tuesday chief opposition whip Sutin Klungsang said the opposition was closely monitoring the case, which could become political ammunition to launch a censure debate against the Prayut Chan-o-cha administration.


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