By Thai Newsroom Reporters
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER PRAWIT Wongsuwan today (August 9) categorically dismissed allegations that he had secretly handed out kickbacks in cash to a dozen MPs currently attached to six splinter parties.
Prawit who concurrently heads largest coalition partner Palang Pracharath Party denied that he had managed to provide 100,000 baht in monthly payoff, figuratively called “bananas”, for each of the six pro-government splinter parties’ MPs as accused by Thai Liberal Party.
Neither had Palang Pracharath Party nor Pa Roy Tor Foundation, supposedly engaged in forests and water resources conservation projects and based in the premises of the First Infantry Regiment on Vibhavadi Rangsit road, been allegedly involved in the handout of “bananas” to those lawmakers in exchange for their votes in support of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha as well as other cabinet members during censure/no-confidence motions or government-lodged legislations, according to the top leader of the largest coalition party.
The accused MPs of the splinter parties, most of which only have one MP each, had allegedly been provided a few million to five million baht in kickback cash each during last year’s censure motion which finally saw Prayut and other targeted cabinet members survive a subsequent no-confidence vote.
However, one of the accused MPs has earlier excused that the cash reportedly provided monthly to him was merely a borrowed sum of money and not a kickback as alleged.
During last month’s censure debate, Pheu Thai MP Wisarn Techathirawat charged that the “bananas” had been quietly handed out in the First Infantry Regiment’s barracks which locates the houses of Interior Minister Anupong Paochinda, Prayut and Prawit.
Prawit’s comments apparently followed those made yesterday by Thai Liberal party leader Seripisut Temiyavej who filed a petition for the Election Commission to investigate the “banana-feeding” scandal and then forward the case to the Constitutional Court.
Somchai Srisutthiyakorn and Vera Somkwamkid of Thai Liberal Party have earlier lodged a similar petition with the National Anti-Corruption Commission against the largest coalition partner and six pro-government splinter parties involving the “banana-feeding” allegations.
If finally found guilty as charged, not only could possibly the alleged recipients of the “bananas” but the alleged giver of such payoffs would be prohibited from being actively involved in politics for a number of years and have their parties dissolved by the Constitutional Court, Seripisut said.
Apart from being banned from politics and having their party dissolved if convicted as guilty by court, the top leader and members of the bribe-giving party’s executive board might possibly be sentenced to one year to five years in prison, he said.
Palang Pracharath leader Prawit Wongsuwan flanked by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, left, and Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda, right, above, and Prawit walking down a corridor with Prayut, Front Page. Both photos: Matichon