Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai insisted yesterday that he would not step down, despite public pressure over his wife’s alleged misconduct on a shareholding which could threaten his ministerial position.
Ruangkrai Leekitwattana, a lawyer who filed a petition to probe Don a year ago, urged PM Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday to suspend the minister from his post.
“If I decided to resign, I wouldn’t attend the Cabinet meeting today,” Don said.“I will be the one to define what I perceive as pressure or not. Right now, the answer is on my face,” he said, smiling and giving a thumbs-up.
“I just do my work and my wife has cleared her inherited shares,” he said, adding that his wife held less than 5 per cent of the shares in the company and his son was not involved.
Don was referring to last week’s alleged report that his wife, Narirat, held shares in excess of the legal limit, prompting the Election Commission to agree that Don had breached the law.
According to the 2017 charter, ministers, their spouses and children must not benefit from a shareholding beyond the legal limit of 5 per cent of all shares in that company.
If they do, they must declare them to the National Anti-Corruption Commission within 30 days and convey them to other authorised people.
While Don declared his wife’s shareholding in real estate companies Panawong and Panawong Realty to the NACC, her shareholdings accounted for 12 and 17.5 per cent respectively in 2015.
Her stake was lowered to 4 per cent in both companies last October, months after Ruangkrai filed a petition against Don.
The excessive shares were transferred to their-then 34-year-old son.
However, Don says his wife’s shares were inherited 37 years ago and belonged to family companies, which were not part of the Stock Exchange.
Prayut also insisted that he would not sack Don nor shuffle the Cabinet.
Meanwhile, Ruangkrai yesterday filed a petition with Prayut to suspend Don without having to wait for the Constitutional Court’s verdict.
“I don’t buy his reasoning that the shares have never been touched. [Narirat’s] shares were also decreased just recently,” the lawyer said.