Further updated: No law for the junta’s party I

21 12 2018

The junta’s main devil party, Palang Pracharath, held a big bash for “supporters” to give it hundreds of millions of baht. The Nation reports that the fund-raising bash “featured 200 banquet tables and was aimed at raising around Bt600 million for the pro-junta party.” In fact, the party’s deputy leader Nattapol Teepsuwan said the “actual take was nearly Bt650 million, against an outlay of Bt3 million.”

The whole event had a dubious legal status, but as we know, law doesn’t bother the military junta and its acolytes.

As pointed out by two other party hierarchies, even holding the event seems illegal. Puea Thai’s Phumtham Wechayachai pointed out that his party cannot “organise a fundraising event in that fashion because the organic law governing political parties does not permit fundraising [until] after a royal decree announcing the election takes effect.” He noted that the decree is not expected until 2 January.

Phumtham suggested that the Election Commission and the National Anti-Corruption Commission “investigate the feast following reports that government officials and political office holders contributed to the campaign.”

His position was supported by Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva who “called on the PPRP [Palang Pracharath] to disclose the names of its supporters at the fundraising banquet for the sake of transparency and in compliance with the law.” He observed that “people who donate 100,000 baht or more to a campaign are legally required to disclose their identities. Those who paid for the tables [at the Palang Pracharath shindig] are considered to be the party’s financial contributors.”

One of the legal questions relates to “how Cabinet ministers and civil servants were able to afford seats at an extravagant fundraising dinner run by the pro-junta Phalang Pracharat Party on Wednesday.” Well, maybe not how they could afford tables but where the money came from. In addition, the “law on political parties prohibits state agencies from giving them donations of any kind or participating in their activities.”

The devil party and the junta needs to “explain” how tables that cost Bt3 million each “were reserved in the names of the Finance Ministry and state agencies including the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).” Twenty tables were reserved for the Finance Ministry (60 million baht) and three for TAT (9 million baht), meaning that just these two state agencies poured 69 million baht into the junta’s political party.

Finance permanent secretary Prasong Poonthanet “insisted yesterday that no state funds had been expended.” He did not explain how the Ministry had and paid for 20 tables.

In addition, “[f]our tables, worth a combined Bt12 million, were reserved in the name of Phalang Pracharat secretary-general Sonthirat Sonthijirawong, who is commerce minister in the military-led government.”

Reacting to this obvious breach of rules, “activist Veera Somkwamkid said yesterday the National Anti-Corruption Commission should determine how many active civil servants attended the fund-raiser and how they obtained tickets.” He added to the legal mire by pointing out that if civil servants had seats given to them, “they should be scrutinised for illegally receiving a gift worth more than Bt3,000. And if they paid for themselves, they should be scrutinised for being ‘unusually rich’…”.

Because this is the junta’s party and enjoys reflected impunity and because the EC and NACC are essentially puppets of the junta, we would be surprised if they did anything much at all.

Update 1: For more information on who reserved tables at 3 million baht a pop, see the Thai-language ISRA News site. It lists names and numbers of tables. One important omission from the above news stories is the Bangkok Administration with 10 table (30 million baht). Naturally enough, the governor of Bangkok is a junta appointee and other senior members of that administration are deep yellow junta supporters.

Update 2: The Nation reports that the TAT has said it is “impossible” that “it spent Bt9 million on banquet tables at a fundraising dinner for pro-junta party Phalang Pracharat.” TAT director Yuthasak Supakorn declared his “agency had nothing to do with the dinner” adding that he “might take legal action against those reporting the false news for defaming the agency.” A Palang Pracharath official concurred and “rejected the report that the finance ministry and TAT had made donations and joined the fundraising dinner on Wednesday.” He added that “the fundraising process was transparent and the party would disclose the names of the donors in a couple of weeks.” We are pleased that’s sorted out then. Or that it will be fudged “in a couple of weeks.”


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22 12 2018
The nonsensical notion of a free and fair election | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] recently, in among a couple of years of posts about the junta’s rigging of the election, we have pointed to the huge banquet that looks like an event that piled illegality on […]

22 12 2018
The nonsensical notion of a free and fair election | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] recently, in among a couple of years of posts about the junta’s rigging of the election, we have pointed to the huge banquet that looks like an event that piled illegality on […]

24 12 2018
No law for the junta’s party II | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Palang Pracharath Party’s “fund raising” banquet last week is causing some rather odd denials of law […]

24 12 2018
No law for the junta’s party II | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] Palang Pracharath Party’s “fund raising” banquet last week is causing some rather odd denials of law […]

19 01 2019
Whistling in the wind | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] has yet to look into a fund-raising report from the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP), which held a Chinese-style fund-raising banquet on Dec 19 last […]

19 01 2019
Whistling in the wind | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] has yet to look into a fund-raising report from the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP), which held a Chinese-style fund-raising banquet on Dec 19 last […]

12 03 2019
EC fails (again) | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] has found nothing wrong with Palang Pracharath’s fund-raising banquet…” back in December. This led  EC secretary-general Jarungvith Phumma to observe that there is “no reason to […]

12 03 2019
EC fails (again) | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] has found nothing wrong with Palang Pracharath’s fund-raising banquet…” back in December. This led  EC secretary-general Jarungvith Phumma to observe that there is “no reason to […]