Prawit sees, hears no evil over ex-MP poaching claims
Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon has denied any knowledge of a senior military officer based in the Northeast helping to poach former MPs for the Phalang Pracharat Party.
It was reported the senior officer has been offering benefits to politicians to defect from their parties to Phalang Pracharat, which is alleged to be the regime’s tool for retaining power and securing Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s return as premier after the next election.
“Who’s promising whom benefits? Tell me the name,” he said.
When asked if the officer in question was one of the top chiefs in the 2nd Army Region, Gen Prawit downplayed the reports saying a senior officer may have talked to politicians because they were acquainted but there was nothing more to it.
“They may have had a conversation but it has nothing to do with me,” the deputy premier said.
Gen Prawit also dismissed a rumour politicians paid a courtesy call on him at his residence at the 1st Infantry Regiment, King’s Guard, in Bangkok late last week.
Prominent government figures have been rumoured to be pulling strings behind the Sam Mitr (Three Allies) group, which has been accused of siphoning off former MPs for Phalang Pracharat.
The group leaders are former transport minister Suriya Jungrungreangkij and former industry minister Somsak Thepsuthin. Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak has insisted there are no grounds to the allegation he is the third leader of the group.
A Pheu Thai Party member has petitioned the Election Commission (EC) to probe whether Sam Mitr has broken election law over the alleged poaching.
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam admitted Monday that the Council of State, the government’s legal arm, was amending an order by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to permit constituencies to be re-demarcated in preparation for the next poll tentatively set for February next year.
However, Mr Wissanu explained the amendment would not affect changes to the primary voting system, as some have anticipated. Political parties have complained there is too little time left until the next election for them to organise the primaries, meant for registered members to select potential MP candidates for their respective parties.
The parties voiced their complaints in the first round of meetings between them, the NCPO and EC last month.