Yesterday (5 March), Thanathorn has addressed allegations from news sources that he has links with corrupt companies and emphasized the importance of veracity on the national Journalists’ Day.
Thanathorn posted on Facebook that there have been efforts to destroy him and the Future Forward Party by distorting facts to mislead the public.
One source reported that Thanathorn is involved with Picnic Corporation (Public) Co Ltd, and thus has ties with a scandal involving the family of Suriya Lapwisuthisin, the former owner of the company and a former Deputy Commerce Minister in the Thaksin Shinawatra government, who has now escaped from a 12-year jail sentence for accounting fraud by absconding to a foreign country.
Thanathorn clarified that he became a shareholder of the company because a new group of shareholders made an arrangement with someone important to ask him to help invest in re-structuring the company in order to merge it with World Gas (Thailand) Co Ltd.
The new group of shareholders also allowed him to use a put option to sell back shares with profits of 7-8% per year. So, he made the investment but he was not even involved with the new group of shareholders, let alone Suriya Lapwisuthisin.
Thanathorn also addressed a second allegation by another news website that he is a shareholder in One O C Corporation Ltd, a lumber mill and concession company. The news item misled the public into thinking that the company is responsible for illegal logging and deforestation.
In response, he said that he actually owns the company, but it has been inactive since the beginning and is now closing. He registered the company for his personal business just in case, but has never had a chance to use it.
He added that when a company is registered in Thailand, the scope of its business is described extensively, just to avoid having to change the registration details in the future if and when it expands. So, lumber is one of many activities written in the scope of the business and there is also no evidence to prove actual logging or deforestation. The allegation is thus invalid.
He said that he is disappointed with the news agencies for misleading the public, but remained open for challenges. Unless allegations are supported by evidence, he asked the sources not to destroy him with ‘old politics’ that pits people against each other and has obstructed the country’s development for a decade.
Thanathorn also criticized some news agencies for short-sightedly abandoning their freedom and code of conduct to support the dictatorship by fear-mongering rather than working hard to invest in responding to the challenges of the globalized world. However, he encouraged media who believe in themselves as a pillar of democracy and in the dignity of journalism.