Opposition seeks transport minister's removal over contracts

Opposition seeks transport minister's removal over contracts

Saksayam accused of profiting through proxy shareholder

Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob replies to the opposition's attack during the no-confidence debate on July 20, 2022. (File photo)
Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob replies to the opposition's attack during the no-confidence debate on July 20, 2022. (File photo)

The opposition is seeking the removal of Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob from office, accusing him of winning construction contracts from the Transport Ministry via a proxy in violation of the constitution.

The opposition's move prompted a rapid denial from the Bhumjaithai Party. Supachai Jaisamut, the party  registrar, called a press conference and rejected the allegation, depicting Mr Saksayam as being beyond reproach and saying this was born out by official documents.

Pheu Thai party and opposiion leader Cholnan Srikaew on Wednesday submitted a letter to House Speaker Chuan Leekpai accompanied by what he said was documented evidence against Mr Saksayam.

Mr Chuan was asked to petition the Constitutional Court to consider removing Mr Saksayam from office, both as transport minister and as an MP, and stripping him off the right to run in an election allegfed for violation of Section 144 of the constitution regarding annual expenditure budget deliberating procedures.

According to the opposition leader, Mr Saksayam was previously a major shareholder of a construction company. He had signed the shares over to a company employee, but remained the de facto owner. The employee did not have the "potential" to be a shareholder, he said.

The company had won several contracts worth billions of baht in total from the state-owned Transport Company, which Mr Saksayam oversees as the minister in charge, according to the opposition leader.

Pheu Thai MP Pattana Sapso (Sakon Nakhon), who took part in the grilling of Mr Saksayam during a no-confidence debate, said he had a video showing important evidence against the transport minister. It would be used during the coming general debate against the government that will conclude without a vote under Section 152 of the constitution.

Dr Cholnan said the general debate was likely to be held from Feb 15, as suggested by the cabinet. He said the opposition was not worried the government would seek to avoid it by engineering a lack of a quorum in the House, because that would be in breach of the constitution.

The Bhumjaithai Party registrar was accompanied by party MPs when he called a press conference and dismissed the allegation. There were official documents confirming that Mr Saksayam was no longer a shareholder in the construction company that won contracts from the Transport Ministry, he said.

Mr Saksayam had nothing to do with national budgetary spending, which had been transparent and lawful, he said. Nor had he been involved in hiring and purchasing by any government agency. Mr Saksayam did not stand to benefit, directly or indirectly, from budget spending, Mr Suppachai said.

The opposition was just trying to discredit Mr Saksayam and curtail his popularity, he said.

Bhumjaithai regarded the opposition's move as an insult in breach of Section 73 of the Election Act.The party was considering taking legal action against those concerned, he said.

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