PHUKET: Vice-Governor Manit Wattanasen has blasted newspapers that alleged he has been moved to Pattani province because of involvement in the ongoing land scandals. V/Gov Manit will take up his new post on June 23. Speaking with the Gazette this morning, he stressed that his transfer had come about because the government needed an urgent replacement for Sanchai Yaisawang, one of the Vice-Governors in Pattani, who had died recently. V/Gov Manit, who is 51, has held his post in Phuket for two years, but has spent the past eight months studying at the National Defence College in Bangkok. He told the Gazette that his move at a time when the Phuket land probe is making headlines around the country was purely coincidental. “It was bad timing,” he said. “Phuket has this land problem and that is why the press assumed that I had to move because I was involved. I was never involved with anything to do with land. I spoke with the Deputy Minister of Interior, Sermsak Wongpanich, about this yesterday – that my reputation was being damaged by being transferred at this time, but he told me not to take it too seriously. “The press just wants headlines to sell newspapers, but this can destroy people. The SorPorKor scandal has been going on since 1995, but I wasn’t appointed Vice-Governor in Phuket until 2001.” “Many times when I came back to Phuket [from Bangkok], I traveled by bus. If I was rich [from corruption], why didn’t I travel by plane? I’m very hurt and so sad about this, and my family are very depressed about it,” V/Gov Manit added. “I believe I was a good guy in Phuket – not corrupt. [I don’t understand] why the result should be like this. “I will be back in Phuket on Friday to pick up my belongings, then I will go straight to Pattani. I don’t want to stay because I feel hurt by these accusations that I was moved because of the SorPorKor [scandal],” he added. No replacement for V/Gov Manit has yet been named.
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