Opposition makes fresh attempt to oust Thamanat
The opposition has launched a fresh attempt to oust Deputy Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Thamanat Prompow who it believes to be unqualified to hold cabinet and other political positions.
The move followed the Constitutional Court's ruling on May 5 that says Capt Thamanat, also Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) MP for Phayao, is qualified to hold his positions despite having served four years in an Australian prison in 1994.
In its ruling, the court said for a jail sentence to affect Capt Thamanat's positions as MP and cabinet member under the constitution, it must be handed down by a Thai court, not a foreign one.
As the sentence was handed down by a New South Wales court in Australia, it is not legally binding in Thailand, it said.
The court's ruling was in response to a petition forwarded by House Speaker Chuan Leekpai. The petition was submitted by 51 MPs of the Move Forward Party (MFP), who sought a ruling on Capt Thamanat's eligibility to sit as an MP and hold a cabinet portfolio, given his past conviction in a heroin smuggling case.
MFP list MP Thiratchai Phanthumat, in his capacity as spokesman for the House committee on suppression and prevention of corruption and misconduct, said he is now heading a new sub-committee with an aim to seek legal action against Capt Thamanat over various allegations.
One of these accusations is that Capt Thamanat has violated the ethical code of members of parliament by concealing from the Secretariat of the Cabinet information about his criminal background before taking a cabinet portfolio and receiving royal decorations, said Mr Thiratchai.
The House sub-committee also aims to find out more about Capt Thamanat's possible involvement in drug smuggling from Thailand to Australia, which led to his arrest in Australia in 1993, said Mr Thiratchai.
Seri Ruam Thai leader Sereepisuth Temeeyaves, in his capacity as chairman of the House committee, said there still is a chance to reinvestigate the 1993 drug smuggling case as its statute of limitations still has three years before it expires, said Mr Thiratchai.
The sub-committee therefore now plans to invite all Thai state agencies involved, including the Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB), to provide more information on the matter, he said.