Police business

4 04 2020

Pol Gen Somyos and some of his loot

Over the years, PPT has posted quite a bit on police and their often unusual wealth.

Readers may recall the seemingly never investigated story of Thailand’s post-coup police boss Gen Somyos Pumpanmuang who was involved with the owner of the Victoria’s Secret Massage parlor back in January 2018. He claimed to have “borrowed” 300 million baht from the brothel boss. He even appeared with a stack of money that was claimed to be the same 300 million.

Somyos declared in 2014 that he had amassed assets of almost 375 million baht. We have previously posted on his connections with shady business groups that use men-in-black to harass villagers.

The National Anti-Corruption Commission has been deathly quiet on this case.

He’s not the only one. As the 2014 assets declarations showed, top cops averaged a whopping 258 million baht each. Back then, current Commissioner-General of the Royal Thai Police Pol Gen Chakthip Chaijinda declared almost 1 billion baht in assets. Current head of the NACC, Pol Gen Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit declared almost 470 million baht in assets.

Pol Gen Wirachai

This is a long introduction to the case of Pol Gen Wirachai Songmetta.

Readers may remember him from the Big Joke police dance in January 2020, when Pol Gen Chakthip came into conflict with Surachate Hakparn, a former immigration chief who, back in April 2019, was quickly and surprisingly taken into custody, removed from his posts and then made a civilian before being resurrected as a cop assigned to Government House. After he claimed shots were fired at his car and that all of the kerfuffle had to do with money associated with a biometric equipment deal, Chakthip suddenly transferred two of his two deputies, Pol Gen Chaiwat Kateworachai and Pol Gen Wirachai.

Adding to the spice, King Vajiralongkorn expelled both officers from the royal police bodyguard corps and ordered that the two were not to wear medals that bear the emblem of the royal guards.

But, then, to our surprise, Pol Gen Wirachai just appeared in the Forbes list of Thailand’s richest, with a photo of him in his uniform. Forbes states “Wirachai Songmetta entered the ranks of Thailand’s richest following the November 2019 IPO of Absolute Clean Energy, a renewable energy producer” and values his fortune at $585 million. It adds that the company “operates 14 biomass power projects with a combined capacity of 212 megawatts…”. (We wonder why Pol Gen Chakthip is not listed?)

Forbes observes that “[h]is ex-wife chairs the company while two of his three sons have board seats.” You can get a look at them here, while noting that one of the sons has been listed as a director of companies associated with Wirachai since he was 18. (That’s how the rich operate in Thailand where family trumps any sort of skill.)

The company claims another 19 projects under development throughout Thailand.

PPT was stunned. Maybe we are naive, but we hadn’t realized that serving cops could own large companies and actively engage in business. ACE is publicly-listed with Wirachai holding more than 22% of the shares and people with the same family name holding almost 80% of the shares.

Another report explains how ACE became big. It built on his family’s earlier business as “the nation’s leading producer of hardboard and wood chips, and the residue of that process is used to fuel the biomass power plants…”.  ACE reports a bunch of associated companies, all family-held and mostly in energy and tree plantations. An example is Shaiyo Triple A, claiming to have “been invited to invest in overseas markets such as China, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Philippines, Malaysia, and Australia.”

Being a top cop can only have assisted Wirachai in grabbing land for plantations.

While he’s been a cop, Pol Gen Wirachai has been active in business, including undertaking trips overseas for his companies. In one, in 2018, he was hosted by the Chairman of Thua Thien Hue Provincial People’s Committee in Vietnam, Phan Ngoc Tho with “a reception for President of Shaiyo Triple A group Wirachai Songmetta and delegation. Also attending the working session were relevant departments and agencies.”

Wirachai for himself. Clipped from Thua Thien Hue Portal.

Shaiyo Triple A claims to have 2.5 million contracted farmers supplying it. It, too, has several subsidiaries. One recent report states that the “Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand (IEAT) has teamed up with Asia Clean Industrial Park Co (ACIP) to develop a new industrial estate in Chon Buri to serve novel investment projects in the Eastern Economic Corridor.” That investment is “located on a plot of 1,300 rai in Ban Bung district with a development cost of 3 billion baht.” ACIP itself “has a registered capital of 1.8 billion baht and Songmetta Corporation owns a 99% stake.” ACIP is reportedly “an affiliate company of Shaiyo Triple A Group, the international conglomerate headquartered in Thailand, with core businesses in agriculture, clean and renewable energy, logistics services, industrial land development, engineering procurement and construction services, and international trading.”

Back at ACE, the Executive Committee includes Pol Lt Gen Adul Narongsak, formerly Deputy Commissioner of Metropolitan Police Bureau. Its Board of Directors includes Charoon Intachan who lists his positions as a member of the Council of State, member of the junta’s Constitution Drafting Committee, and a term as President of the Constitutional Court. He was the presiding judge at the Court when it dismissed Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra from office for abuse of power in 2014.

Well connected you might say. With connections to the judiciary and police, the provincial operations of the various companies associated with Pol Gen Wirachai are well lubricated. But politically-connected businesses also carry political risks, especially when the monarch gets involved. When Wirachai was removed to the PM’s Office, the “share price Absolute Clean Energy Public Company Limited (ACE) hit the floor in the morning session on January 24, 2020,” diving almost 30 percent.

We find it troubling that a serving policeman so obviously has other interests and business. More so because there are conflicts of interest involved in the businesses being operated while he is a policeman. The junta was and Prayuth regime is unconcerned by such activities because all of them – police and military – benefit from this and similar activities.





The puppet NACC

7 08 2018

The Bangkok Post has yet another editorial criticizing the National Anti-Corruption Commission. It begins:

[The NACC] has reached a crucial fork in the road. Soon, it will have to provide the public with the facts it has uncovered in the probe of the undocumented luxury watches worn by Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon. Alternatively, it will continue to stonewall. This choice will inform the public that the NACC is a weak organisation, completely unwilling to speak truth to power and lacking the fortitude even to bring about the promise that brought Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha to the premiership.

In fact, the “fork in the road” was passed long ago. It passed that point from the moment it was appointed by the junta. It sped further down the puppet road when NACC president Pol Gen Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit was made NACC puppet president and, after public pressure “recused” himself from the actual “investigation,” but continued in his job when “investigations” of Prawit “continued.” Watcharapol “has personal ties with Gen Prawit, and with Gen Prawit’s brother, former national police chief Pol Gen Patcharawat, who also has faced NACC graft allegations without result.”

The “recusal” was fake: Watcharapol “has stayed directly informed, as evidenced by his press conference on July 20 that gave information about the investigation.”

The NACC is a fake anti-corruption agency. It works as the junta demands. It ignores cases the junta wants ignored. As the Post points out, The Dictator’s anti-corruption drive is compromised:

One of the first high-ranking people to be accused of corruption was a four-star army general. But Gen Preecha Chan-o-cha [Prayuth’s brother] was never prosecuted. Former army chief and former deputy defence minister, Gen Udomdej Sitabutr [a Prayuth supporter], was responsible for the construction of the extremely controversial Rajabhakti Park but there were no consequences.

The Post recognizes that the NACC is a puppet institution, observing:

Pol Gen Watcharapol’s NACC decided not to pursue blatant, obvious and even admitted nepotism by many members of the junta-appointed National Legislative Assembly.

On Prawit’s case,

What it [the NACC] has been able to do to this point, more than eight months later, is to stonewall the corruption accusation. The public and opinion writers believe that the anti-graft agency is trying to make the country forget that the first deputy prime minister and closest associate of Prime Minister Prayut faces hard questions of how he got access to more than 40 million baht worth of watches.

In the end, the Post admits that the “fork in the road” is long passed, declaring that the NACC looks remarkably like “an agency far more interested in protecting bad actors of the regime than in doing its assigned job.”

That’s true. The sad thing for Thailand is that it is but one of the puppet institutions. Even regular bureaucratic agencies have suffered purges under the junta and been infiltrated by junta cronies.

Usually, the public learns little of the corruption of military regimes until they are gone. In the case of this junta, we may never know because it isn’t planning to go away for many, many years.





NACC confirms foot-dragging on Prawit

21 07 2018

In the past couple of weeks PPT has asked several times about the National Anti-Corruption Commission painfully slow “investigation” into the luxury watches and jewelry case involving Gen Prawit Wongsuwan.

It appears that the NACC has been deliberately slow in “investigating” the junta’s No. 2 about his claims that he “borrowed” a couple of dozen hugely expensive watches from a man now deceased. If the NACC is not being deliberately slow, then it is a worthless agency (except for the junta).

After months of “investigating,” the case remains at the stage of “gathering evidence.”

The NACC now says “it is still seeking crucial information from companies abroad that sold the luxury watches worn by Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon before it can conclude its investigation…”.

This confirms official foot-dragging. The public was told several times that the NACC was seeking information about the watches from local dealers. Now, having failed on that – if the agency actually did it – the NACC chairman Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit says his Dick Tracys are seeking information from international dealers.

Why they haven’t already done this is not explained but confirms that the NACC is not really keen to investigate Watcharapol’s former boss and colleague.

Despite earlier claims that local dealers refused to cooperate with the NACC, the story is now that “local dealers told the NACC that they didn’t have any information to provide as those particular watch models weren’t sold in Thailand.”

There’s a day’s investigation. What has the NACC been doing for the other 180++ days? Keeping its head down and covering up?

What this seems to mean is more foot-dragging. Watcharapol “explains”: “We have to admit that this will take time but the requested information is crucial to the investigation…”. He said he had no idea if the watch companies would provide any information.

Can we assume that the NACC has actually asked and if it did, asked the right people? Nah.

Where’s the tax invoices and data for imported watches?

The NACC is a disgraceful puppet agency.





Glacial NACC

27 04 2018

The pattern of “investigations” by the National Anti-Corruption Commission is that political opponents of the military junta tend have judgements made in quick time, while the buddies, allies and members of the military junta proceed at a glacial pace or are quickly dismissed.

An example of glacial “investigation” is that of Deputy Dictator, Gen Prawit Wongsuwan, who was caught with more than a score of expensive luxury watches and sundry precious gems. The result, so far, is that the general has declared his case “over” but the NACC claims that its investigations continue – they are now in a fifth month – despite the relative simplicity of the case in investigative terms. Of course, because of conflicts of interest in “investigating” a boss, the cover-up inquiry drags on.

The Bangkok Post reports another case that is slower than a glacier. In recent days, the NACC “has pledged to speed up probes into irregularities in bungled police station construction projects which allegedly involved Suthep Thaugsuban, the former leader of the now-defunct People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) which led a mass street protest against the Yingluck Shinawatra administration.”

Suthep is treated with great respect and some circumspect in the circles of the great and good because he’s a thug but his “work” for the “cause” in bringing down Yingluck is to be rewarded.

Back in April 2015, an NACC subcommittee decided to “charge former deputy prime minister Suthep Thuagsuban of malfeasance in office for arbitrarily changing the method of the bid for the construction of 396 police stations in defiance of a cabinet’s resolution.” If we recall correctly, that subcommittee has begun its work in 2013.

Recall that Yingluck was also accused, “investigated,” and sentenced on a malfeasance claim in May 2014. The case, far more complicated than that involving Suthep, was completed and through the courts by September 2017.

When the NACC subcommittee began the case, it “said that Mr Suthep was fully aware that the National Police Office would have to call bid for the construction of the police stations in each region as proposed by the NPO and endorsed by the cabinet.” Yet in 2009 Suthep “arbitrarily changed the method by holding just one bid for the construction of all the police stations across the country.”

Subsequently, “the company which won the bid was unable to fulfill the contractual commitment to build 396 police stations and eventually abandoned the job.” It was a was a 6.67-billion-baht project.

Three years later, five years after NACC “investigations” began, and nine years after his alleged malfeasance, NACC president Gen Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit says his “agency is in the middle of examining the money trail in the case and the result will be presented to the NACC committee no later than September…”.

Such timelines for the NACC just never seem to mean anything when “investigating” the buddies, allies and members of the military junta.





Watches and the junta’s protection racket

15 03 2018

The Bangkok Post states:

The charter court ruled on Friday that the provision in the organic bill governing the NACC [National Anti-Corruption Commission] which excuses some of its members from qualification rules set down in the charter does not contravene the constitution.

It describes the ruling as “controversial,” not least because some of the current NACC members are simply and obviously not qualified to serve under the current charter.

In essence, the politicized court has allowed a “a law to override the constitution which is the supreme law.” Of course, this is not at all new in Thailand and especially not under the current junta. Military dictatorships come to power by overthrowing constitutions and when they develop their own, these are applied to others, but not to the regime.

When deep yellow activists like Pichai Rattanadilok Na Phuket express “concerns the ruling undermines checks and balances,” you know that there’s a real odor about this politicized ruling in favor of one of the military dictatorship’s puppet agencies. Pichai once fronted the ultra-royalist and neo-fascist Sayam Prachapiwat group.

One reason for this ruling is that the junta needs the NACC, headed by its lackey Gen Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit.

We see this in the never-ending saga of the NACC’s “investigation” of the Deputy Dictator.

Another Bangkok Post story states that a “fact-finding committee on a collection of luxury watches worn by Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon” cannot come to a decisionon the watch case. Now, we wonder what “fact-finding” means to the NACC. Its in-house dictionary seems to define “fact-finding” as “a process of delaying reports and investigations so that a cover-up may be achieved.”

This definition is clearly at work on Gen Prawit Wongsuwan’s case because the NACC “fact-finding committee” is not deciding the case, but is “divided over whether to summon the deputy premier to make a statement.” Wow! It is also reported that the “fact-finding committee” is still “waiting for Gen Prawit to submit his clarification.” Wow and wow! Gen Prawit has been given at least four extended “deadlines,” which he simply ignores. After all, he’s busy arranging an “election” victory for his political allies, and can’t be bothered with little details like his hugely expensive watch collection and how he came by it.

The Post report points out that “the law allows the NACC to give only two extensions.” That’s another law the junta and his loyal servants can simply ignore. In essence, the military regime is lawless.





Puppet NACC and the junta’s damage

26 02 2018

The Bangkok Post has an important editorial that makes demands that demonstrate the abject failure of the puppet National Anti-Corruption Commission.

It says the:

…saga of Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon and his rich collection of wristwatches has passed into farce. The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) has used up its last crumb of credibility. The NACC had announced that its third and final deadline for the defence minister to account for the watches would be March 2. But without any explanation, the NACC president [Pol Gen Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit] amended that. As of now, there is no deadline for Gen Prawit to report.

This unexplained and inexplicable change of attitude by the NACC’s top executive is not just a disappointment to the public, it’s a political dagger to the heart for the anti-graft body, as well as for Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. Public opinion was already massively against Gen Prawit and his ostentatious shows of wealth. Now, however, there is NACC conduct that goes far beyond the deferential treatment given to members of this military regime accused of suspicious money activity….

The NACC picked up this clear violation of the unusual-wealth regulations with great reluctance. The supposedly independent commission has not covered itself in glory since the military regime came to power. A notable failure was the refusal to have the prime minister’s brother, Gen Preecha, account for unreported money and a mansion he reportedly owns up-country. Handed hundreds of pages of documents on bribery of Thai officials in government and state-owned enterprises by Rolls Royce, the NACC simply refused to advance investigations.

Gen Prawit’s case is egregious and without doubt the most important that the NACC has fumbled since the military coup. He is the first deputy prime minister, and steps into the prime minister’s chair when Gen Prayut cannot. He is also a longtime military buddy of Gen Prayut’s. The prime minister has not had the grace to be embarrassed by his friend’s million-dollar jewellery.

The action by Pol Gen Watcharapol, a former subordinate and assistant to Gen Prawit is revealing of the nepotism and double standards of the military regime. The watch scandal cover-up says its time for the regime to go. When this regime is gone, it will be necessary to clean up all of the laws, rules and agencies that the junta has warped. Fixing the junta’s political damage is going to be a very long, very difficult and very contentious process.





Watching and waiting

23 02 2018

In the land of the military dictatorship, double standards are the guiding principle when it comes to law. While there were similar patterns seen in the past, it needs to be remembered that the junta seized the state in the 2014 coup and expelled an elected government publicly trumpeting the need for reform, its opposition to corruption and rule of law.

Of course, some seasoned observers knew from bitter experience that all of this was bluster and it wouldn’t be long before the nepotism, corruption, impunity and the double standards that are definitional of military regimes were seen.

While many of the junta’s anti-democrat put up with early examples of corruption (such as Rajabhakti Park) and were prepared to turn a blind eye to lese majeste repression, murder (what has happened to the evidence associated with the Chaiyapoom Pasae case?), censorship and political repression, a range of issues have seen even diehard yellow shirts turning away from the junta. These issues include: the election “delay,” double standards in the law and the Deputy Dictator’s luxury watches.

On the latter, many will be stunned to read that the National Anti-Corruption Commission continues to delay on its investigation. The NACC says that it will (again) “write to Deputy Prime Minister [Gen] Prawit Wongsuwon in the next few days, demanding he provide specific details on how he acquired 25 luxury watches…”.

We count at least three previous letters asking for the same information.

NACC president Pol Gen Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit, himself polluted by his relationship to the Deputy Dictator, said the “deputy premier will be asked to furnish precise details of the watches exposed in recent news reports, including the brand names, price tags and dates he wore them…”.

What did the previous letters ask for? Did they not ask for such details? If not, why not? Pol Gen Watcharapol must explain this.

The NACC has given Gen Prawit another 15 days to respond. All the other deadlines, like “election” promises, have simply been ignored.

The article suggest that Gen Prawit is not fully cooperating with the NACC. That may be so, but why is the NACC cooperating with Prawit?

On an “investigation” that the NACC recently said would be wrapped up by the end of February, Pol Gen Watcharapol now says the “issue will be clearer [next month]…”.

Unremarkably, Pol Gen Watcharapol said “the deputy premier has informed the NACC he was too busy with his duties” and that Prawit “may need some time to gather the information as some of the watches were worn a long time ago … adding he did not suspect Gen Prawit was deliberately stalling.”

It sounds like collusion and a cover up to us.

Another case that is defining of double standards is that of leopard killing and eating tycoon Premchai Karnasuta of Italian-Thai Development and dozens of other companies. Not that long ago we posted on his seeming disappearance despite ongoing investigations of his illegal hunting.

Police have now issued a second summons to Premchai and other members of his hunting party “inviting him to answer additional charges of cruelty to animals…”. All had failed to respond to the first summons. His lawyer didn’t even bother to provide a particular reason for his client’s failure to appear.

Not showing up to answer a summons is not uncommon, but this is a high-profile case and we well recall the way poor farmers were mistreated under the same laws. Not that long ago a couple of farmers were arrested by police and quickly sentenced to 30 years in prison, which was reduced by half because they had confessed. Their “crime” was picking mushrooms from a protected forest. They did not shoot and eat  endangered animals. But the law works differently for the rich.

And so it goes on and on….





Updated: Watching and waiting

10 02 2018

On one watch front, the luxury front – the news is… well, no news. The Nation reports that National Anti-Corruption Commission President Pol Gen Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit declared that the NACC’s “secretary-general has not yet updated the corruption-fighting body about whether Deputy PM [Gen] Prawit Wongsuwan has submitted his third try at an explanation about his possession of luxury watches.” Is he getting coaching? Probably not. Neither The Dictator or the Deputy Dictator believe that laws apply to them.

The other thing to watch is is the so-called MBK39. The junta got a legal slap when the the courts unconditionally released them. Four of the activists, named below, did not front the police and courts. That said the charges of “violating the public assembly and internal security laws, as well as the junta’s order on political gatherings” remain in place and could see a penalty of 7 years in jail. The laws include a charge of assembling within 150 meters of a royal palace (Sirindhorn’s). In effect, this “law” bans public gatherings in several of the locations where anti-government protests have been ignited in the past and is one more piece in the return to pre-1932 jigsaw and the deification of royals and their spaces.

The thing to watch is a a pro-election assembly this afternoon Bangkok time. It is reported that “[a]ctivists Rangsiman Rome, Sirawit Serithiwat, Ekachai Hongkangwan and lawyer Anon Nampa … would be attending the event to be held near Democracy Monument at 4pm.”

The police have said “they would immediately arrest the four when they showed up at today’s event” using warrants from the previous case against them.

Akechai said: “Why not go? … The court’s rejection to detain [activists from the] January 27 assembly has already proved that this kind of assembly is rightful by law.”

Update: Akechai didn’t get a chance to go. Junta thugs arrested him early on Saturday morning, and took him to Lat Phrao police station and then to Pathumwan police station. He seemed unfazed by the arrest; it is kind of “normal” under the dictatorship.

How’s that “democracy” looking to you Gen Joseph F Dunford?





NACC boss and his political blink

24 01 2018

There’s been much criticism of Pol Gen Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit, the junta-appointed head of the National Anti-Corruption Commission, and his role in the investigation/attempted cover-up of the Deputy Dictator’s luxury watches.

As a subordinate posterior polisher, almost everyone knew that if he stayed in place for the “investigation” of General Prawit Wongsuwan, then the outcome was going to be flawed.

After more than a month of criticism and deepening and widening political criticism, The Nation reports that Watcharapol has had a political blink and “will withdraw himself from examination of the case concerning Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan’s multimillion-baht collection of wristwatches.”

Too little too late as Watcharapol’s fingerprints are all over the case. Even so, it is an indication that Prawit is in deep trouble.

At the same time, Worawit Sukboon, secretary-general of the NACC, announced at a press conference that “the NACC had asked Prawit for a third time to provide further information about how he came to possess so many luxury watches.” The NACC seems to come up with a different excuse each day for the failure to make progress. A couple of days ago they were awaiting the return from overseas of a “witness.”

Worawit did say that the “investigation should be completed by the end of February.”

And, then, presciently added: “If the watches do indeed turn out to belong to Prawit’s friends, he could not be judged guilty of concealing assets … but the NACC would consider other legal aspects of the case.”

If he is found to have concealed assets, the political costs will be high, but the legal costs will likely be minuscule. Just a few days ago, The Eel also known as the former Department of Special Investigation (DSI) director-general Tarit Pengdith received a suspended 3-month jail sentence and a 5,000 baht fine “for concealment of assets worth millions…”.





Further updated: Does Prawit have 365 watches? II

16 01 2018

About 5 days ago we had a post on the Deputy Dictator’s luxury watches. In it we noted that the count of the watches was 18 and added: “but that might have increased over the last 24 hours.”

The count has increased, by 5. Or one each 24 hours. Khaosod reports that the most recent count is 23.

Not Prawit’s watches?

Equally odd, the report appears to refer to backtracking by the National Anti-Corruption Commission:

Gen. Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit, chief of the National Anti-Corruption Commission, or NACC, said Monday that Prawit has filed no explanation with his agency, weeks after another high-ranking commission official said they’d already received it.

Yet another report, in the Bangkok Post, the very same NACC boss is reported quite differently:

 Pol Gen Watcharapol said he was aware Gen Prawit had sent two explanation letters to his office, adding the agency will tread carefully on all aspects related to the case, which is drawing a great deal of public attention.

He either has reported or he hasn’t. We suspect the issue is with the reporting by the newspapers, but even so, Watcharapol also says “the case has not yet been sent to the commissioners for consideration.”

Whichever way you look at it, this is a political flashpoint.

The Post also has a sentence that refers to a rumor that “people in the military and business circles had jointly invested in an expensive wristwatch scheme…”, seeming to suggest that General Prawit Wongsuwan is “renting” or “sharing” his watches. Believe it or not.

Update 1: Another day, another luxury watch hanging on the Deputy Dictator’s arm. No. 24 has been identified.

With a range of senior people on the hard yellow side of politics criticizing Prawit, and even Democrat Party “leader” Abhisit Vejjajiva joining in, political support for Prawit is draining faster than a battery in a cheap quartz watch.

Abhisit has appeared to be seeking to drive a wedge between Prawit and The Dictator, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha. He says the watch scandal is undermining Prayuth’s credibility and political prospects.

Gen Prawit has blinked, saying he “is ready to step down from the cabinet if the anti-graft agency found the case against him has grounds.” Or, more precisely, if the NACC “concludes in the investigation that he had committed wrongdoing over the wristwatch saga.” That does leave things rather open-ended, but a blink is a blink.

Gen Prawit told reporters the “watches belonged to his friends and all have been returned…”.

Update 2: A new story at the Bangkok Post adds some important nuance to its earlier story, linked above at Update 1.

This newer story indicates that Prawit is angered – “irate” – about being chased over his 24 (and still counting) luxury timepieces. He asserted “all” of the “24 luxury watches belong to his friends,” that he had returned all of them, and that he “threatened to resign…”, but from the cabinet and “only if the national graft-busting agency decides there are sufficient grounds to pursue a case against him.” The Post says this “outburst by Gen Prawit marks the first time he has clarified [that’s a stupid word used by the Post, for there’s no clarity at all] where the watches came from…”. Prawit stated: “that he had borrowed the watches and only wore them occasionally, insisting he is not a collector.”

The report also indicates how “good” people are turning against Prawit. This can get more interesting still and the NACC is being forced into a corner where it must do something other than stall. A cover-up will be politically explosive. Prawit’s ouster will also be politically destabilizing for a junta bent on extending its authority and power.








%d bloggers like this: