Thammanat Prompao for Thai PM. Huh?!
The Palang Pracharat ‘fixer’, and former guest of the Australian prison system, is crying ‘fake news’ over a social media post saying that he’s “ready and waiting” to be offered the top job in Thai politics. Palang Pracharat is the majority coalition party in the current Thai government.
The Agriculture and Cooperatives minister, and MP for Phayao, ‘Captain’ Thammanat Prompao has dodged plenty of political bullets after it was revealed in a series of Sydney Morning Herald articles, the dark past of a younger Thammanat Prompao. One headline in 2019 read From sinister to minister: politician’s drug trafficking jail time revealed and another a year later… Thai minister who pleaded guilty in Sydney heroin case now says ‘it was flour’.
The senior member of Thailand’s ruling coalition party spent 4 years in a New South Wales jail in the 1990s for his role in a heroin trafficking ring, convicted of importing some 3.2 kilograms of heroin into Australia. He was deported on his release from Sydney’s Parklea prison. At the time he was a young Thai soldier going under the name of Manat Bophlom.
Speaking about the cases when it first came to light in Thai media in 2019 the young, aspiring Deputy Agricultural minister said… “I didn’t import, produce or deal heroin. While on vacation in Sydney, I was properly cleared by immigration. But I was unfortunate to have been in the same place at the same time as some drug offenders.”
In past year Captain Thammanat has been been given a clear runway to higher office in Thailand after being cleared by Thailand’s constitutional court and then being voted to the top position of Secretary General in the Palang Pracharat party – the party that was formed as a front for the Thai military’s NCPO (that led the 2014 coup) as a legitimate political party, to field MPs for the 2019 general election.
Cut to August 2021, and Thammanat denied he ever said he was ready and waiting to be Thailand’s PM and that he was “acting 30th PM of Thailand”. The social media post was originally made by “Top TV”. The combative minister said he was “instructing his legal team to prosecute the poster and people who shared the fake news as it had damaged him and created misunderstanding”.
Thammanat has used similar threats every time media organisations report any of his alleged faux pas or past ‘misunderstandings’.
Daily News doubled down on yesterday’s story by with a quote from former nightclub owner, playboy, politician, presenter and go-to “dial a quote” Chuwit Kamonwisit. He took to social media with a quote of his own.
Chuwit claimed he had “heard of the name of Captain Thammanat” 20 years ago when he was serving jail time in Bangkok.
He noted in his post that Thammanat “was a quick political learner” and “mixes well with the elite”.
“That was ideal for someone to be a politician or a gangster. ”
Another name that has been floated as the next Thai PM (Prayut Chan-o-cha has been in the role since 2014, initially as chief of the Thai Army’s NCPO and then after being given the top job in a vote by both houses of the Thai parliament in 2019) is the current Public Health Minister, and leader of the minority Bhumjaithai party, Anutin Charnvirakul.
But gaff-prone Anutin’s public, and not so public, snipes at the current PM have seen him sidelined to photo opportunities. PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, as head of just about everything, has also taken over responsibilities to head up the Covid vaccine rollout.
Thammanat Prompao would be a controversial pretender to Thailand’s top job but has the backing of the powerful deputy PM and former defence minister (and luxury watch enthusiast) Prawit Wongsuwon, and was able to gain enough votes to become the head of the Palang Pracharat executive.
After 7 years as Thai PM, Prayut has not signalled any intention to either stand down or given clues to a possible successor.
The mischievous social media posts about Captain Thammanat are probably intended to push the issue of a successor to the prime minister’s job into the national narrative at a time when the current PM is being called out almost daily for his government’s mishandling of many aspects of the vaccine rollout and handling of the country’s Covid-economy.
Read more articles about Thammanat Prompao here…
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