Thamanat case raises 'ethics' queries

Thamanat case raises 'ethics' queries

Deputy Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Capt Thamanat Prompow talks to reporters at Government House last week as he dismissed a report by an Australian media outlet about his conviction in an Australian court on drugs charges. (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)
Deputy Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Capt Thamanat Prompow talks to reporters at Government House last week as he dismissed a report by an Australian media outlet about his conviction in an Australian court on drugs charges. (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)

Deputy agriculture and cooperatives minister Thamanat Prompow could be removed from the cabinet if it is found that he has an "ethics" problem, says Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam.

Mr Wissanu was responding to questions surrounding the controversy over Capt Thamanat's educational background after it was alleged that his PhD in public administration could be a fake.

Initially, the House's official database showed that Capt Thamanat held a doctorate of philosophy in public administration from Calamus International University.

However, CSI LA, the Facebook page which reported about Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon's luxury watch collection, claimed the university did not exist.

On Monday, Mr Wissanu admitted that Capt Thamanat's educational background had not been examined prior to his appointment as a cabinet minister, noting the process could have delayed the formation of the government.

"The law does not require Capt Thamanat to hold a doctorate degree to become a minister as a bachelor's degree is enough. But if a minister makes a false claim about obtaining a master's or doctorate degree, it does raise a question about ethics," said the deputy prime minister.

Mr Wissanu said it is better to ask the Election Commission (EC) which is responsible for examining the qualifications of MPs and MP candidates.

Meanwhile, the legal team for Capt Thamanat on Monday cancelled a press conference on the planned lawsuits and instead released a four-page statement defending his qualifications as an MP and a cabinet minister.

Apart from the education background controversy, Capt Thamanat was fired from military service and imprisoned in relation to a drug trafficking scandal in Australia, which has raised questions about his eligibility to contest the elections.

The press release informed that Capt Thamanat's wrongdoings had already been exonerated by the 2007 Impunity Act, making him eligible to be a cabinet minister.

However, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon said on Monday the controversy surrounding Capt Thamanat would not affect the government's image. He said he did not put the brakes on the planned press conference either.


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