New Pathum Thani CEO suspended over corruption allegations

Photo courtesy of The Nation

The newly elected CEO of Pathum Thani Provincial Administration finds himself unable to assume office due to an ongoing corruption investigation. This dramatic development has left the province in a state of political uncertainty.

Secretary-General of the Council of State Pakorn Nilprapunt announced that Charn Puangphet had been suspended from duties in 2012. The suspension stemmed from allegations dating back to 2011, accusing Charn of embezzling state funds. The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) voted unanimously to indict him, claiming he siphoned money meant for flood relief supplies in Pathum Thani.

The Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases Area 1 accepted the case, suspending Charn from duty until the trial’s conclusion. The next court hearing is scheduled for mid-July.

Pakorn clarified that this suspension extends to Charn’s current appointment, meaning he will be suspended immediately upon taking office to prevent any interference with the legal proceedings.

Charn clinched the Pathum Thani CEO election on Sunday with 203,032 votes, narrowly defeating the incumbent, Khamronwit Thupkrachang, who garnered 201,212 votes. Despite the controversy, a source from the Interior Ministry noted that Charn was not disqualified as a candidate since he had not been convicted.

The Local Administration Department explained to Interior Minister Anutin Charnvirakul that without a conviction, Charn remains eligible to contest the election. This loophole allows him to participate in politics despite the severe allegations against him.

Adding to the scandal, Charn is also under investigation for allegedly approving overpriced gym equipment procurement between 2012 and 2013, with costs reportedly inflated by 40 million baht, reported The Nation.

ORIGINAL STORY: Charn wins Pathum Thani presidency by narrow margin

Charn Puangpetch, supported by the ruling Pheu Thai Party, secured the presidency of the Pathum Thani Provincial Administrative Organisation (PAO) yesterday. In a closely contested election, Charn garnered 203,032 votes, edging out Police Lieutenant General Kamronwit Toopkrajang, who received 201,212 votes.

The narrow victory margin of 1,820 votes marks a comeback for Charn, who had previously lost the seat to Kamronwit in 2020. Charn expressed his gratitude last night at his residence in Sam Khok district, thanking the people of Pathum Thani for their support. Charn also acknowledged the significant backing from the Pheu Thai Party and Thaksin Shinawatra.

“I am glad that the people of Pathum Thani supported me, I must thank the Pheu Thai Party and Thaksin Shinawatra for their great support.”

At 62 years old, Charn faced 72 year old Kamronwit, who is a former Bangkok Police Commissioner, as the main competitor in this provincial race. Charn’s political journey includes three terms as Pathum Thani PAO president until his defeat in 2020, when Kamronwit, then supported by Pheu Thai, took over.

Political observers noted the presence of Thaksin and key Pheu Thai figures in Pathum Thani in the lead-up to the PAO election, promoting Charn’s campaign and the party’s agenda. The influence of Thaksin’s political lineage, rooted in the Thai Rak Thai party, has seen a shift in Pathum Thani. In the General Election on May 14, 2023, the Move Forward Party (MFP) claimed most House seats, overtaking Pheu Thai in the province.

Despite the MFP’s victory in the General Election, their path to power was obstructed, resulting in a coalition government led by Pheu Thai and military-aligned parties. Current opinion surveys indicate a growing support for MFP and its leading figures for government leadership and the prime ministerial post, compared to the last election. In contrast, the popularity of Pheu Thai and its prime ministerial candidates has seen a significant decline.

Pol. Lt. Gen. Kamronwit was seen yesterday, June 30, casting his vote in Thanyaburi district, Pathum Thani, embodying the competitive spirit of this tightly fought election, reported Bangkok Post.

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Puntid Tantivangphaisal

Originally from Hong Kong, Puntid moved to Bangkok in 2020 to pursue further studies in translation. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Hong Kong. Puntid spent 8 years living in Manchester, UK. Before joining The Thaiger, Puntid has been a freelance translator for 2 years. In her free time, she enjoys swimming and listening to music, as well as writing short fiction and poetry.

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