Deputy House Speaker Supachai hit with encroachment ethics probe

Deputy House Speaker Supachai hit with encroachment ethics probe

Deputy House Speaker Supachai Phosu at a general debate on Feb 18 (Photo: Parliament)
Deputy House Speaker Supachai Phosu at a general debate on Feb 18 (Photo: Parliament)

Deputy House Speaker Supachai Phosu is facing an ethics probe in connection with his alleged encroachment on a forest reserve in Nakhon Phanom.

The House committee on ethics of MPs, chaired by parliament president Chuan Leekpai, on Tuesday resolved to admit the illegal land possession case for an investigation, according to Nikorn Chamnong, a committee member and secretary.

Next, the committee will summon Mr Supachai, a Bhumjaithai MP, to give a statement and rebut the accusation within 15 days of receiving the summons letter.

After Mr Supachai has testified, the committee will schedule its first meeting to consider the issue with a fact-finding team established to collect evidence. 

The committee members may conduct a fact-finding probe themselves or appoint an ad hoc panel to take charge.

If the case is found to have grounds, the committee will determine the punitive actions for violating the ethical regulations, which range from a reprimand to condemnation.

But if the committee rules the MP has committed a gross violation of ethics, it will recommend the House convene a meeting and vote on whether to refer the case for further investigation by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC). 

Meanwhile, Mr Supachai maintained the forest encroachment allegation was nothing new. In fact, the issue was raised against him in a no-confidence motion filed by the Pheu Thai Party last year. 

The issue harks back to the time when he served as deputy agriculture minister. A complaint was lodged with the NACC against him over the allegation 10 years ago, although no investigation was launched. 

If there was any substance to the allegation, the NACC would have proceeded with the probe long ago, the deputy House speaker said. 

The issue concerns the alleged encroachment of 232 rai of land in the Dong Prathai forest reserve in Nakhon Phanom which has been turned into reform land for agricultural purposes. 

Some of the land had allegedly been sold, despite the law barring reformed land from changing hands to the benefit of certain private individuals. 

The House committee on counter corruption chaired by Sereepisuth Temeeyaves, leader of the Seri Ruam Thai Party, investigated Mr Supachai's possession of the land in Nakhon Phanom, which was among the assets he declared upon taking office as deputy House speaker. 

The Sereepisuth panel alleged the Dong Prathai land was state land and so Mr Supachai had no right to acquire it.

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