Activist slams new Prawit watch find

Activist slams new Prawit watch find

Cabinet members enjoy a humorous moment as Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon raises his hand to cover his eyes amid strong sunlight after journalists teased him about his flashy watch and diamond ring as they waited for Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha to join them for a group photo at Government House last week. (Bangkok Post file photo)
Cabinet members enjoy a humorous moment as Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon raises his hand to cover his eyes amid strong sunlight after journalists teased him about his flashy watch and diamond ring as they waited for Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha to join them for a group photo at Government House last week. (Bangkok Post file photo)

Political activist Srisuwan Janya will today petition the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) to examine more evidence in connection with Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon's possession of luxury watches.

Gen Prawit, who is also the defence minister, allegedly not only has one watch of the Richard Mille make, worth about 3 million baht, and an expensive diamond ring -- which caused controversy last week -- but is also suspected of owning another Richard Mille RM 30 model worth 4 million baht.

The Association to Protect the Thai Constitution plans to hand over to the NACC additional evidence it claims backs the allegation that Gen Prayut owns the RM 30 watch, said Mr Srisuwan, the association secretary-general.

Earlier, acting NACC secretary-general Worawit Sukboon said the NACC can expand its investigation if new information emerges concerning another luxury watch owned by Gen Prawit.

He was referring to a Facebook page called CSI LA which accused Gen Prawit of wearing the 4-million-baht Richard Mille wristwatch.

It is not the same one the deputy premier was seen wearing while he raised his right hand to shield his face from the sun during a group photo session of newly sworn-in cabinet ministers on Dec 4.

The watch and the ring he wore that day raised questions over whether he had acquired the items but may not have included them in his previous asset declarations as required by the NACC.

Gen Prawit reportedly never informed the anti-graft agency of his personal items worth more than 200,000 baht each in past asset declarations made on Dec 22, 2008 when he was appointed defence minister under the Abhisit Vejjajiva government; on Aug 10, 2011 when he stepped down as the defence minister; on Aug 9, 2015 after he had left the post for one year; and on Sept 4, 2014 when he became deputy premier and defence minister in the Prayut Chan-o-cha-led cabinet. He has been in the Prayut cabinet since.

The diamond ring, which came under the spotlight after the group photo session, is reported to have been passed on to Gen Prawit by his mother while the luxury watch is said to belong to Gen Prawit's businessman friend who lent it to him. However, Gen Prawit has not spoken about the origin of the two items, nor any other luxury trinkets he might own.

Meanwhile, the organic draft bill on the National Anti-Corruption Commission is being rejigged to prevent law enforcement officers from being bribed to stall criminal investigations.

The organic bill is currently being scrutinised in the National Legislative Assembly (NLA). The deliberation yesterday touched on the content pertaining to prevention of law enforcement officers from pocketing bribes during criminal probes.

Adm Tharathorn Kajitsuwan, spokesman of the NLA committee on the organic bill, said requirements will be imposed in the bill barring officers from stalling investigations in exchange for ill-gotten gains, and to conduct procedures in a timely fashion. If the officers engage in foul play, they will face dismissal.

Also, state officials must not benefit from the patronage system, long blamed for breeding corruption, he said.

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