Democrat MP Boonyod Sooktinthai yesterday brought empty liquor bottles found in a garbage dumpster at Parliament as proof of lawmakers drinking – but he stopped short of pointing a finger at Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung.
“I believe the bottles were linked to MPs and Cabinet members,” he said.
Boonyod said he suspected Chalerm had alcoholic drinks in his private office located in the House because he appeared drunk during the charter debate last Friday.
He said empty bottles, including vodka, sherry, wine coolers and soda water, were proof of drinking inside Parliament although there was no evidence of links to Chalerm.
“The kind of bottles found indicated drinking done by lawmakers and not their drivers and aides.”
However, he said he had heard tales about lawmakers sneaking liquor in to drink during the House session. Drinking often went on in private offices so that it was not recorded on security cameras.
This week, Democrat MP Rangsima Rodrasamee is expected to raise the issue of Chalerm drinking on duty at the weekly meeting of opposition whips in order to pave the way for a hearing by the House committee on ethical conduct.
Rangsima will also ask Chalerm to explain his conduct during the House question-and-answer session.
“It is a disgrace that Chalerm could not deliver a closing statement on charter change because he was drunk,” she said.
Speaking in his defence, Chalerm said he drank alcohol but said that he was not drunk.
He insisted he had had an amicable discussion with Rangsima on Friday, and denied he was angry after being accused of being inebriated.
“I am not drunk but taken to love drink,” he was seen saying to Rangsima in a loud voice during a live broadcast.
He said he would sue the Democrats if they continued to make allegations of him being drunk.
He also dispatched lawyer Opas Soyson to file a complaint against four newspapers Thai Post, Thai Rath, Siam Rath and Naew Na at Samae Dam police station, calling for police to launch an investigation into what he described as a smear campaign. The lawyer submitted reports from the newspapers as evidence.
Premier Yingluck Shinawatra said she had not had time to check with Chalerm in order to ask about his conduct. She said she would not intervene in the matter so as to allow a parliamentary hearing on Chalerm’s conduct to run its course. “It is up to the Democrats to decide whether to initiate an ethical hearing.”
Ombudsman Siracha Charoenpanij said his office had no mandate to probe Chalerm unless a complaint on ethical conduct was lodged. If reports about Chalerm’s drinking were true, then this was, at least, inappropriate and may violate ethical standards for office holders.