Palang Pracharath and the smuggler

22 06 2020

The ruling Palang Pracharath Party seems to like elections when it can win them. And win they did in a Lampang by-election on the weekend.

How the party went about winning is instructive as it relied on a local thug. Convicted heroin smuggler and alleged underworld figure and deputy agriculture minister Thammanat Prompao.

Convicted heroin smuggler

The  party won a seat formerly held by the Puea Thai Party. This time, only a couple of minor parties ran against Palang Pracharath.

How did this happen, making the Army-backed party a shoo-in? According to the Thai Enquirer, there was an extensive patronage network put together by Thammanat and his local mafia gang (well, that’s our description). The report adds:

Of course much of this network infrastructure that Palang Pracharat has is imported directly from Pheu Thai with many of the MPs within the ruling party were ‘recruited’ from their Thaksin-backed rivals.

And with that recruitment comes the prestige, patronage networks and local knowledge that the MPs have.

This manifests itself most clearly in Thammanat Prompao, the erstwhile Thaksin ally.

Thamamat reckons he used to “love” Thaksin, but one day came to the revelation that there was more to gain by joining the regime.

For the leaders of Palang Pracharath it matters nothing about where its “members” come from. What matters is maintaining their stranglehold on the state. If doing that means cooperating with glutinous thugs, then so be it. In any case, they value such traits among Army officers.

Most especially, “those close to General Prawit Wongsuwan … see Thammanat as irreplaceable because of his role at the center of an extensive network of patronage and ‘baramee’ chains.” The report continues:

This weekend’s by-election was proof that Thammanat plays a pivotal role in provincial electoral politics. He was seen on the campaign trail and seen with the PPRP candidate strategizing and lending a hand on numerous occasion. When the night was won, it was Thammanat whom Wattana turned to thank and hug….

The deputy agricultural minister has become too valuable and too deeply ingrained within the party’s fabric to simply abandon.

Thammanat might be the local thug, but he must pay his respect to his big boss, Gen Prawit. While thanking the “Lampang people for their votes and congratulated Mr Wattana on his victory,” he reported to Prawit.

Prawit was ecstatic: “The PPRP is ready to lead the people in every part of the country toward prosperity and well-being,” and “thanked Capt Thamanat for his important role in the party’s campaign.”

The heroin smuggler is in the veins of the Army’s party.


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25 06 2020
Thammanat’s deep pockets | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] that the Election Commission “has postponed the declaration of the official result of Sunday’s by-election, in the northern province of Lampang, until next week, due to allegations of vote […]




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