Pichit exit rocks premiership boat amid legal storm

Photo courtesy of Pattaya Mail

Pichit Chuenban, the Minister attached to the Prime Minister’s Office, has resigned after a legal complaint from senators that threatens the premiership of Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin.

Pichit’s resignation follows a bombshell petition from 40 senators, urging the Constitutional Court to scrutinise the qualifications of both Prime Minister Srettha and Minister Pichit, alleging they fall short under Article 160 of the Constitution. The court is poised to decide on May 23 whether to accept this pivotal petition.

In his resignation letter, Pichit expressed confidence in his qualifications but prioritised national stability over personal ambition.

“Although I firmly believe I meet all legal requirements, this matter now involves the prime minister, our administration’s leader. To ensure our country moves forward without disruption, I will not hold onto my position at the expense of national interest. Therefore, I resign, effective May 21, 2024.”

Pichit’s tenure was short-lived, serving only 23 days since the Srettha 1/1 Cabinet reshuffle on April 28, reported Pattaya Mail.

His final act as minister involved addressing the concerns of debt-stricken teachers at the Government Complaint Centre.

ORIGINAL STORY: Scandal rocks PM Srettha: Ethics violation accusation

Thailand Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin remains resolute amid an ethics complaint that could see him suspended. While on an official visit to Italy on Sunday, PM Srettha addressed the brewing controversy.

A group of acting senators filed a complaint with the Constitutional Court, accusing him of violating the code of ethics in his recent appointment of PM’s Office Minister Pichit Chuenban.

Despite the potential fallout, Srettha remains undeterred.

“No, I won’t lose my concentration. I have a team of working staff and we are confident in our innocence, but I do not want to elaborate. It would be pressuring the Constitutional Court.”

The 62 year old Thai prime minister emphasised that he respects the checks on his government and views them as normal. His team is preparing a thorough explanation to prove their innocence.

The controversy centres on Pichit, previously an adviser to the Bangkok-born politician and former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s lawyer in the infamous lunchbox bribe scandal. This scandal has raised serious questions about Pichit’s suitability for a Cabinet position.

Pichit served prison time for contempt of court after attempting to bribe officials in a high-profile land case involving Thaksin. On June 25, 2008, the Supreme Court sentenced Pichit and two colleagues to six months in prison.

They allegedly tried to bribe Supreme Court officials by offering a lunchbox containing 2 million baht in cash a fortnight earlier. This case, known as the Ratchadaphisek land case, resulted in a two-year prison sentence for Thaksin in 2008, reported Bangkok Post.

The Constitutional Court is set to meet on Thursday to decide whether to accept the senators’ ethics petition regarding Srettha and Pichit.

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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