Thai education minister’s appointment in question over Red Bull heir scandal

Picture courtesy of Education Minister Newsline Facebook

The recent appointment of Education Minister, Police General Permpoon Chidchob, has been challenged by the Move Forward Party (MFP), following allegations of his involvement in aiding Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya, the heir to the Red Bull fortune, to evade prosecution.

MFP MP Teerajchai Phunthumas voiced these concerns during a press briefing yesterday, September 15. He drew attention to the National Anti-Corruption Commission’s (NACC) decision to formally charge multiple individuals for their alleged role in mishandling the notorious hit-and-run case involving the Red Bull heir in 2012.

Pol. Gen. Permpoon, who at the time served as the assistant to the national police chief, Pol Gen Somyot Poompunmuang, is amongst those accused.

On the early morning of September 3, 2012, Vorayuth, then in his early 20s, collided his Ferrari with a motorcycle ridden by Police Senior Sargeant Major Wichian Klanprasert in the Thong Lor neighbourhood. Rather than assisting the victim, the son of Red Bull’s owner sped away, dragging the victim’s body 200 metres from the incident site. He failed to report the incident and fled the country in 2017, after continuously ignoring summons to appear in court. Some charges have already reached their statute of limitations.

According to Teerajchai, Pol. Gen. Permpoon is accused of manipulating the official speed estimate to fall below the safety threshold and reassigning police officers desiring to demand a red arrest warrant, resulting in the case’s dismissal and Red Bull heir Vorayuth’s successful escape to London, reported Bangkok Post.

Although the penalty for Pol. Gen. Permpoon is disciplinary, Teerajchai pointed out that new Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin holds dual roles, also acting as the president of the Police Commission. He is therefore expected to assess Pol. Gen. Permpoon’s suitability for the education portfolio.

“People question the fairness of the justice system about the rich and poor. In this case, some people have been offered assistance to flee the country and escape prosecution to this day.”

Teerajchai further stated that the NACC’s report confirmed the identities of those involved in the hit-and-run case, and urged the government to launch another investigation to prosecute additional accomplices and to ensure that his Red Bull wealth doesn’t sidestep Vorayuth’s repatriation to face his punishment.

“The Royal Thai Police can send a notice to European police to apprehend Vorayuth using his biometrics to identify him, an order which can be made by the ruling government. But I doubt that Srettha will proceed to bring this case out of the dark because Pol Gen Permpoon is a Bhumjaithai Party MP, and those seats are important to the coalition.”

In the meantime, PM Srettha reported to the press that he had not yet read the report.

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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.