A House sub-committee on mass media yesterday threatened to invoke the law to force embattled media personality Sorrayuth Suthassanachinda to testify over alleged embezzlement.
Sorrayuth yesterday refused to appear for questioning by the sub-committee on media of the House panel on political development, media and public participation.
The sub-committee, which is chaired by Democrat MP Watchara Phetthong, had summoned the attorney-general, the president of the Thai Journalists Association and Sorrayuth to testify over the alleged embezzlement of advertisement fees from MCOT Plc by Sorrayuth’s Raisom Co Ltd.
But none of them appeared.
The sub-committee resolved to send the issue to the full House panel to consider whether the law on parliamentary panels’ summons orders should be invoked to force Sorrayuth to testify.
The law, which was enacted last year, carries a maximum jail term of three months and a fine of Bt5,000, if anyone refuses to testify to a House or Senate panel.
Sorrayuth sent a letter dated October 30 to the sub-committee, saying the case is in the judicial process so he needs to withhold certain information for fear that it might affect his case.
Sorrayuth insisted in the letter that the case and the business of his company would not affect his media responsibility and he would adhere to the principle of working for the public interest without distorting information.
He said he had adhered to this principle throughout his journalism career.
The National Anti-Corruption Commission recently decided to take criminal action against Sorrayuth for his alleged role in the embezzlement of Bt138.79 million of MCOT advertising revenue while producing a television show for Modernine in 2005 and 2006.
The TJA, the Press Council of Thailand and many media figures have called on Sorrayuth to take responsibility for the case by resigning from his job or at least suspending his professional activities.
Sorrayuth and his company, Raisom, which produces news and current-affairs programmes for Channel 3, has continued to operate as usual.
After the meeting, Watchara told reporters that his panel simply wanted to give Sorrayuth a chance to defend himself over the allegations, adding that if he’s confident of his innocence, he should testify and make things clear.
He said Sorrayuth’s case would be sent to the full House panel for consideration at 9.30am next Wednesday.