In light of the serious allegations made in the media both here and in Australia about the reported conviction and incarceration of Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives Thamanat Prompow in 1993-1997 in Australia, on a charge of illegally importing a commercial quantity of an illegal substance (heroin), the Council of Ministers (Cabinet) has passed a resolution to suspend Deputy Minister Thamanat from his position with immediate effect while an investigation is made into the veracity of the allegations.
The Council of Ministers has also issued a letter to the Electoral Commission of Thailand informing them of the Council’s decision to suspend the Deputy Minister and requesting them to consider the propriety of also suspending Mr Thamanat from his position as Member of Parliament for the Palang Pracharat Party representing Phayao Province, in line with the precedent of its earlier decision in the case of Mr Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit.
‘You’ve got to be joking. Do they know who they’re trying to sack? Do they not realise what he’s got on them?’
Furthermore, the Minister of Foreign Affairs has instructed diplomatic staff at the Royal Thai Embassy in Canberra and the Royal Thai Consulate in Sydney to request that the competent judicial authorities in New South Wales provide authenticated court documents in this case, copies of which have already appeared in the Australian press. The Royal Thai Police have similarly been instructed to liaise with their counterparts in the Australian Federal Police to secure further authenticated evidence relevant to this case.
‘Oh my giddy aunt, they haven’t, have they? We can’t control what foreign government agencies might let slip. Remember he grassed on half the heroin mafia in the armed forces.’
When and if the allegations receive prima facie confirmation, in whole or in part, a hearing will be conducted by the Criminal Division of Holders of Political Positions of the Supreme Court at which Mr Thamanat will have every opportunity to present his case. In the meantime, and cognizant of Mr Thamanat’s constitutional rights, the Council of Ministers has made a strong recommendation to Mr Thamanat that he refrain from any legal action or threat of legal action against any party involved in this case, especially members of the media in Thailand and in other countries, where that action may be construed as a deliberate attempt to stifle or obstruct public debate on the matter. This would include lawsuits for criminal defamation under Article 326 of the Criminal Code of Thailand, or for civil defamation under Article 423 of the Civil and Commercial Code of Thailand, or under Article 16 of the 2017 Computer-Related Crime Act (No. 2).
‘But, but this is preposterous. How else can a pol put the frighteners on the papers to stop them revealing what he’s been up to?’
The Council of Ministers has in the meantime inaugurated a thorough-going review of its vetting procedures for prospective ministers. An independent committee of respected persons, with no connections to Mr Thamanat, his family and associates, to any agency of the state including the armed forces and the judiciary, or to any independent constitutional organization, will be empanelled for this purpose. The committee will conduct its hearings in public and its final report, with a record of past failings and recommendations for amending the vetting procedures, will be made available to the public in its entirety.
‘My lord, just when we’d managed to get the senate appointed in complete secrecy, without anyone even knowing who was doing the choosing. That was going to become the model for all government appointments. They’ll never be able to appoint the town dogcatcher if this goes through.’
The Council of Ministers wishes to emphasize that the constitutional qualifications for appointment to the Council of Ministers include ‘be[ing] of apparent honesty’; ‘not possess[ing] behaviour seriously violating or failing to comply with the ethical standard’; and ‘not be[ing] under any of the prohibitions in Section 98’. Section 98 (10) prohibits any person from being a candidate for Member of Parliament who has ‘been convicted by a final judgment of a court for committing … an offence of being producer, importer or exporter or trader under the narcotics law’. It is therefore imperative for preserving the reputation and standing of the government that, rather than refer to the affair as a minor matter, a personal issue, or something that previous administrations have done, the current leaders of the government ensure an investigation not only into the allegations of a conviction for narcotics offences, but also into Mr Thamanat’s educational qualifications, which have also been questioned in the media.
‘They can’t go opening that can of worms. Every last self-important ego in the government has bought themselves a fancy-looking diploma. Remember when Banharn’s thesis had all those references to articles in French when the bugger could barely read Thai?’
The Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation has therefore been instructed to investigate the accreditation and quality standards of Calamus International University and California University (Foreign Credential Evaluation), which are the names on the cover of Mr Thamanat’s PhD Dissertation, with a view to establishing the trustworthiness of Mr Thamanat’s statements regarding his educational qualifications.
‘And good luck trying to find them.’
Also, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has instructed the Zoological Park Organization of Thailand to commission suitably expert persons to conduct a study of the ethics of primate nutrition as applied to lower ranking cohorts in a political coalition.
‘They’re going to study what?’
‘Feeding bananas to monkeys. Did you not realize that this is a complete spoof?’