Prawit watch tally continues to climb as NACC remains mum on case process

politics January 13, 2018 14:24

By Wasamon Audjarint 
Kesinee Tangkaew 
The Nation

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A pro-democracy activist on Friday filed yet another petition to the National Anti-Corruption Commission, asking it to probe into the Deputy PM’s collection of luxury watches.

The letter from Piyarat Chongthep of For Friends Association, which campaigns in support of political prisoners, asked the NACC to probe nine watches seen to be worn by Deputy PM and Defence Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan.

“It shouldn’t be hard for the NACC to probe such expensive watches,” Piyarat told The Nation. “They should be available in only a few shops in Bangkok. I also submitted related documents that should help the NACC locate the watches’ origins in a few days.”

While the NACC has set up a committee with 45 days to investigate the case, Piyarat said he would wait another 30 days for a clear response from the country’s official graft-fighting agency.

The nine watches on Piyarat’s list are on top of the 10 watches that anti-graft activist Veera Somkwamkid detailed in a letter last month to the NACC for investigation.

Piyarat said that Veera would be among activists he would consult if there was a further need to update the NACC. 

Piyarat recently created the “Prawit’s watch calendar”, a calendar depicting photos of Prawit wearing 12 different watches, one for each month in 2018. “We gave them away for free and didn’t expect them to be this popular. We’ve almost run out of them now,” he said.

Both Prawit and the NACC have been largely silent on the issue, resulting in speculation about tight connections between them. The NACC president, Pol General Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit, once served as the deputy secretary-general to the PM attached to Prawit.

The NACC has said it would summon four unnamed people from the private sector to provide testimony on Prawit’s watches, but the organisation has yet to elaborate on the process being taken in the case.

Netizens have tracked down photos of Prawit wearing on different occasions different watches from what appears to be an extravagant collection, each worth from the hundreds of thousands to more than one million baht. The scandal arose after Prawit was seen wearing a very expensive Richard Mille watch during the Cabinet photo opt.

Facebook page CSI LA, speculates based on reviewing media photos, that Prawit’s has at least 19 luxury watches in his collection with a total estimated value of over Bt30 million.

Prawit did not declare total assets valued above Bt200,000 upon entering the Cabinet in 2014.

Several activists have filed petitions and called for the NACC to probe to ensure that Prawit is not concealing assets or “unusual wealth”.

Meanwhile, the Criminal Court on Friday rejected a police request to issue an arrest warrant against Ekachai Hongkangwan, another pro-democracy activist who repeatedly attempted to give his own watch to Prawit as a symbolic protest.

Deputy Police Commissioner Pol General Srivara Ransibrahmanakul led a group of officers to make the request on the grounds that Ekachai allegedly broke the Computer Crime bill by, as the police said, posting “obscene information” online.

The Court turned down the request, ruling that a summons should be made in advance to notify Ekachai of such a charge.

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