Assistant to Justice Minister resigns after exam scandal

Samart Jenchaijitwanich, Assistant to the Minister of Justice, has submitted his resignation letter to the Minister after Phalang Pracharat Party voted to remove him from all positions in the government and the party. Samart is widely known for criticizing Thai student protesters for “not washing dishes.” Some netizens have said that it is now his turn to go home and wash dishes.   

On 2 May, a Phalang Pracharat investigative committee led by Paiboon Nititawan voted unanimously to remove Samart from all political positions in the government and the party. Samart said that he had submitted his resignation letter to Justice Minister Somsak Thepsuthin and removed his belongings from his office prior to the announcement.

Before his resignation, Samart was not only Assistant to the Minister, but also the Director of the Complaint Centre of Phalang Pracharat Party, a government whip, president of an anti-ponzi scheme committee, and member of other Phalang Pracharat Party committees. All of these positions have been cancelled after the Phalang Pracharat investigation.

As a party member, Samart is also prohibited from using Phalang Pracharat’s name, logo, and symbol without written permission from the party.

The penalty was imposed after it was revealed that he cheated on an English exam by sending a proxy to take the test for him. The test was a part of the requirement for a PhD at Ramkhamhaeng University.

The Nation was among the first to disclose a redacted document revealing that a high-ranking official whose name began with ‘S’ was removed from an English class because of cheating. Samart at first denied the allegation and said he would give 200,000 baht to anyone who could find who started this politically motivated allegation.

As the situation unfolded, the redaction was removed and Samart’s name was fully revealed. Sira Jenjaka, a Phalang Pracharat MP, later admitted that he was the one who first spread the news. He also threatened to use his power as chair of the Parliamentary Committee on Law, Justice and Human Rights to investigate the exam scandal involving Samart and related individuals.

Sira claimed that Samart was appointed to his position not on the party’s quota, but because an unelected senator asked a favour for him. As news spread on social media, Thai media outlets observed that the story was a part of an ugly competition inside Phalang Pracharat. Justice Minister Somsak Thepsuthin said that he would welcome any recommendation from Phalang Pracharat party about a replacement.

As he disclosed his resignation, Samart said that Phalang Pracharat did not inform him about the investigation result. He said he could have appealed but he was showing his spirit by resigning. He also said that his subordinate had attended the classes on his behalf because the subordinate wanted to obtain knowledge and he did not have anything to do with it.

“The student card was with me all the time,” said Samart.

Samart became widely known after he posted on Facebook in July last year, in response to a pro-democracy protest, that “everyone wants to help the country, but nobody wants to help mom wash the dishes.” His comment backfired as student protesters gathered in front of the Government House to wash dishes with Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha’s face on them. The students said that Prayut’s face did not wash off, so it would be better to break them.

After Samart’s resignation, netizens expressed their opinions online saying that it was time for Samart to go home and wash the dishes. Ekkachai Hongkangwan, a political activist, said “Everyone wants to get a PhD, but nobody wants to help mom wash the dishes.” Another Facebook user also said that “I suspect that he opened a restaurant at home, washing dishes to the point that there was no time for the exam.”

According to an investigation by Isra News, Samart is a board member of three companies – at least one of which remains active. Registered in 2015, M.J. Production is a print media and advertising company. Samart held 50% of the company’s shares in 2018 according to the Department of Business Development’s database. The list of shareholders for 2019 was not revealed.

When Samart ran in the 2019 election, it was not known that he held shares in a media company. Among many reasons for disqualification, the current Constitution says that anyone holding shares in a media company is barred from running in a general election. Filing a candidacy despite knowing that you are disqualified is punishable by 1-10 years in prison and a fine of 20,000-200,000 baht according to the Organic Law on the Election of MPs.

 

 

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