After surviving the fourth censure motion against him and his coalition government, the Thai PM now faces a far more serious accusation – alleged payments of up to 100,000 per month to MPs from smaller political parties to throw their support behind the coalition.
Setthakij Thai Party leader, and former convicted heroin trafficker (in Australia), Thamanat Prompau, alleged that some small parties had pocketed allowances over the past three years to guarantee their support during government votes.
The former supporter of the government, and now renegade MP, brought the allegations to light after Saturday’s vote of support of the government, including the votes from smaller party MPs.
Thamanat’s claims have already resulted in a petition to the National Anti-Corruption Commission and the Election Commission or an investigation.
During his term as the Secretary General of the ruling Palang Pracharat Party, Thammanat was known as the “monkey keeper” as he was responsible for “feeding bananas” to the smaller party and independent MPs to keep them loyal during parliamentary votes.
Thammanat claimed that these MPs had accepted payments over the past three years.
“It could constitute a violation of the NACC’s law that prohibits civil servants and politicians from receiving gifts worth more than 3,000 baht.”
Thammanat also warned MPs who allegedly received the “allowances”, of up to 100,000 baht per month, of a leaked Line chat containing evidence of their acceptance of the the “hush” money.
Those Line chats, along with copies of internet transactions and receipts, have subsequently been circulated. The documents show numerous MPs were paid regularly.
Seri Ruam Thai Party, Somchai Srisutthiyakorn, a former member of the Election Commission says the allegations are serious and could even result in a party dissolution.
However other MPs, supportive of the government, have already come out decrying the allegations as fake and could result in legal action from the named MPs.
Khathathep Techadejruangkul, leader of the Pheu Chart Thai Party, on Saturday dismissed the leaks as fabricated and said the individuals implicated in the scandal are considering taking legal action.
He claimed the payments were meant to cover “travel expenses” for small parties during their visits to Thai provinces.
Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and 10 Cabinet ministers survived the four day no-confidence debates in parliament this week and survived the votes yesterday along party lines.