Srettha Thavisin rejects graft claims, promises poverty action

Srettha Thavisin rejects graft claims, promises poverty action

Property mogul Srettha: I am innocent
Property mogul Srettha: I am innocent

Pheu Thai Party's prime ministerial candidate Srettha Thavisin says he wants to tackle poverty and inequality, as he fends off corruption allegations ahead of a confirmation vote next week.

Parliament will meet on Tuesday to vote on whether to approve the wealthy property mogul as prime minister and end three months of rumbling political deadlock since the May 14 general election.

The 61-year-old's Pheu Thai Party heads a multi-party coalition formed after the reformist Move Forward Party (MFP) -- which won the most seats -- saw its leader denied the PM spot by conservative, pro-military forces.

"I would like to reiterate that my enemy is poverty and inequality. My goal is to make every Thai person's life better," Mr Srettha said in a video message on Facebook on Friday.

Mr Srettha, the former head of Thai property giant Sansiri, rejected allegations of improper dealings made in recent weeks by Chuvit Kamolvisit, a colourful former massage parlour tycoon turned anti-graft whistleblower.

"We are transparent in our work. I come here today to show my innocence to the general public that my activities were done according to the law," he said.

"I would like to refute all claims that Chuvit has made against me."

Mr Chuvit this week asked police to investigate two land purchases by Sansiri, which is listed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET).

House Speaker Wan Muhamad Noor Matha confirmed the vote for prime minister would be on Tuesday, starting no later than 3pm.

To become premier, Mr Srettha needs a majority across both the lower house of 500 elected MPs, and the 250-member Senate which was handpicked by the kingdom's last junta.

Opposition from the Senate to the MFP's plans to amend Section 112, also known as the lese majeste law, and tackle business monopolies sank its leader Pita Limjaroenrat's ambitions.

And so despite winning most seats, the MFP will go into opposition while two parties from the outgoing army-backed government will have a share in power.

On Thursday it was confirmed the new coalition would include the United Thai Nation Party (UTN) of outgoing Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha -- a former army chief who deposed an elected Pheu Thai government to seize power in 2014.

And the coalition also includes Bhumjaithai -- another party from the outgoing government -- leading some to question how different the new administration will be from the old one.

Former massage parlour tycoon-turned-whistle-blower Chuvit Kamolvisit reveals his latest allegation against Pheu Thai’s prime ministerial candidate Srettha Thavisin at the Davis Hotel, which he owns, in Bangkok, on Tuesday. (Photo: Somchai Poomlard)

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