Palang Pracharath shows another crack, in Chon Buri

Palang Pracharath shows another crack, in Chon Buri

Suchart Chomklin speaks during an event to welcome Pornsak Charoenprasert, who defected from the Pheu Thai Party to Palang Pracharath, on July 31, 2019. (Photo: Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)
Suchart Chomklin speaks during an event to welcome Pornsak Charoenprasert, who defected from the Pheu Thai Party to Palang Pracharath, on July 31, 2019. (Photo: Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

Another rift has emerged in Palang Pracharath (PPRP), with two factions in Chon Buri province trading jibes, but without naming names, as the ruling party prepares candidates for the next general election.

The war of words erupted on Thursday morning when Suchart Chomklin posted a Facebook message saying he was not happy staying in the "big house" anymore because the owners had turned unfriendly towards him.

Hours later Sontaya Kunplome, leader of the Palang Chon group, posted on his Facebook account, saying that "the dog" brought up by the faction had started showing "signs of aggressiveness".

The "big house" mentioned by Mr Suchart apparently is the Kunplome family and "the dog" refers to Mr Suchart.

"I'm not a dog. I'm a warrior," Mr Suchart told the Inside Thailand news programme on Friday.

Mr Suchart, a Chon Buri MP and the minister for labour, is the PPRP director in charge of finding party candidates to contest constituencies at the next election. Mr Sontaya is the mayor of Pattaya City and leader of the Palang Chon faction, a political group based in Chon Buri which backs the PPRP.

The influential Kunplome family first introduced Mr Suchart into local and later national politics in the eastern province, starting in 2011. At the last general election, in 2019, Mr Suchart won a constituency seat, but Itthiphol Kunplome was defeated in a different constituency.

Mr Suchart's role in the PPRP has risen because of his firm support for Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and his close contact with party leader Gen Prawit Wongsuwon. (continues below)

Sontaya Kunplome, the Palang Chon group leader, is at odds with Suchart Chomklin. (Photo: Post Today)

With Mr Suchart responsible for finding politicians to run in the next election, the Kunplomes reportedly felt threatened because the family normally decided who would run in Chon Buri.

Mr Suchart said on Friday he was fully authorised by the party leader to find candidates in all provinces, including Chon Buri, to contest the next election. "The responsibility includes my home province of Chon Buri," he said on Inside Thailand.

But he said he would be ready to leave half of the constituencies in Chon Buri for the Kunplome family to run its own people, on the condition it would remain allied with the PPRP at the next polls.

Mr Suchart warned he was ready to challenge the Kunplomes in all constituencies in Chon Buri if they were not satisfied with the PPRP and decide to defect to another party. 

"I am ready to field candidates in all constituencies in Chon Buri," he said.

Mr Suchart denied reports he was trying to rival the Kunplome family. "It is not about building an empire (to rival Kunplome). It's purely politics," he said.

PPRP deputy leader Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn said on Friday he hoped the rift in Chon Buri would be settled soon, with shared responsibility between Mr Suchart and the Kunplome faction.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said the conflict between the two factions would not affect the work of the government and he called for unity from his supporters.

The bleeding in the PPRP started last month. A number of founding members led by former leader Uttama Savanayana left to form the Sang Anacot Thai Party (Building Thailand's Future), which will not support Gen Prayut for another term as prime minister. Twenty-one MPs under the leadership of former PPRP secretary-general Thamanat Prompow were also expelled from the party in January.

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