'Boost for Pheu Thai'
There are many political implications with the arrest of fugitive convict Somchai "Kamnan Poh" Khunpluem, a former Chon Buri MP said yesterday.
Pramual Aimpia, a former Democrat MP who is familiar with the Chon Buri political kingpin, said Somchai's arrest on Wednesday could have been the result of failed negotiations to force the Phalang Chon Party, led by Somchai's son, Culture Minister Sonthaya Kunplome, out of the Pheu Thai-led coalition. The aim would have been to instead have a partnership with old Pheu Thai foe, the Bhum Jai Thai Party, which has more MP seats than Phalang Chon.
Somchai's arrest could also result in a rise in popularity of Pol General Sereepisuth Temeeyaves, an independent candidate in the Bangkok governor's race. It was Sereepisuth, during his career as National Police chief, who was responsible for having Kamnan Poh convicted.
This will in turn have the most affect on Sukhumbhand Paribatra, the Democrat Party candidate, Pramual added.
The resurgence of the Kamnan Poh case has attracted vast media attention, diluting the critical coverage of the Pheu Thai government's controversial push for constitutional amendment, amnesty and reconciliation.
"It has given a good public image to the Pheu Thai Party, that it follows the principle of rule of law, on bringing lawbreakers to justice," Pramual said.
Sonthaya, in an earlier interview with the press, maintained that politics was not involved in the arrest of his father, and that he has had no talks with senior Pheu Thai Party figures or Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung dismissed speculation that the arrest was aimed at forcing the Phalang Chon Party to merge permanently with Pheu Thai. He also said it was too early to consider the idea of a pardon for Somchai.