PRESSURE is mounting on Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai to resign after the Election Commission (EC) reportedly found he did not meet the ministerial qualifications required by the Constitution.
The EC report, which said that Don was in breach of the law due to his wife Narirat’s failure to declare her stockholdings, came out on Thursday evening.
The EC has neither confirmed nor denied the report, instead citing the need for confidentiality while Don’s case remained under investigation.
Srisuwan Janya, secretary-general of the Thai Constitution Protection Association, yesterday issued a statement calling on Don to do the right thing and quit.
“It has happened to many ministers and politicians in the past and the public demanded that they resign to prevent a conflict of interest as well as to protect the image of Thai politics,” the statement said.
Srisuwan said Don should not wait for the Constitutional Court to issue a verdict disqualifying him before resigning.
“Don’s decision to step down will gain him praise from the public and create a role model for the young generation,” Srisuwan said.
Somsak Prisananantakul, a senior politician in the Chart Thai Pattana Party, said Don should suspend himself from office to pave the way for the government leader, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, to be able to press on with national reforms.
“Many standards were set in the past. Don, who is a minister in a government that came into power through ‘unusual’ means, should act differently from ordinary ministers,” said Somsak.
In 2016, Somsak was found by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) to be unusually wealth and having intended to falsely declare his assets while he was serving as a member of the cabinet between November 1997 and February 2001.
The EC reportedly voted 3-2 to disqualify Don from holding his office based on the |undeclared assets. The EC will next petition the Constitutional Court for a final verdict on whether Don should be dismissed from his present job.
Members of the Prayut Cabinet appeared to support Don remaining until the court verdict.
The EC made the decision after finding that Don’s wife had failed to declare holdings of more than a 5-per-cent stake in a company within 30 days of Don joining the Cabinet.
Article 187 of the current charter prohibits ministers, their spouses and children under the legal age of 20 years old from benefiting from stock holdings beyond legal limits.
They must declare their stock holdings to the NACC and transfer them to legally authorised people to manage them without their involvement.
The current charter was promulgated in 2017, almost two years after Don was appointed foreign minister and three years after his initial appointment as the deputy foreign minister in the junta Cabinet.
The charter’s Article 264 requires that active Cabinet members must meet the legal requirements as laid out by the Constitution.