Ruling party ousts renegade MP Thammanat Prompao after tumultuous career

Thailand’s ruling Palang Pracharat Party has ousted the notorious Thai politician Thammanat Prompao who, apart from other alleged transgressions, was convicted conspiring to import heroin in Australia. He has also been accused of urging voters in a Songkhla bi-election to vote for someone “from a family with pedigree and wealth,” a statement his opponents in the party considered divisive. Palang Pracharat both both bi-elections in the south to the Democrats.

His statement was simply the latest scandal in Thammanat’s chaotic political career. Thai PBS detailed the MP’s controversial trajectory in politics today, starting with him first being elected as an MP, until this most recent scuffle with Palang Pracharat’s allies of the current PM.

The 56 year old began his political career in 1999 when he joined Thai Rak Thai, an opposition party to the conservative forces, but didn’t win his first seat as an MP until 2019 when he joined Palang Pracharat, the party set up as a political front for the former Army-led NCPO.

Thammanat had served 4 years of imprisonment in Australia* under a drug trafficking conviction in 1994, however, Thailand’s Constitutional Court ruled that he would only be barred from a government post if he had been convicted in Thailand (which he had not been).

* Manat Bophlom, now known as Thamanat Prompau, was convicted of conspiring to import heroin to Australia. The ruling was handed down on March 31, 1994 when he was sentenced to 6 years imprisonment. ‘Manat’ served 4 years, then was deported upon his release.

Thammanat eventually became the secretary-general of his party, exerting additional political punch because of his close relationship with Prayut loyal stalwart Prawit Wongsuwan.

Last year, Thammanat was accused of plotting to unseat PM Prayut Chan-o-Cha. In September 2021, Prayut fired Thammanat and his ally, deputy labour minister Narumon Pinyosinwat, from the Cabinet. This destroyed relations between Prayut and Thammanat, who once had been on good terms.

When Thammanat maintained his party seat, tensions boiled. After Thammanat made his recent statement encouraging Songkhla voters to vote in an election for someone wealthy, others in Palang Pracharath blamed Thammanat for the party’s defeat in the election. They then finally ousted Thammanat.


Tara Abhasakun

A Thai-American dual citizen, Tara has reported news and spoken on a number of human rights and cultural news issues in Thailand. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in history from The College of Wooster. She interned at Southeast Asia Globe, and has written for a number of outlets. Tara reports on a range of Thailand news issues.