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MP pushes for probe against Speaker

A Democrat MP yesterday urged Parliament to investigate an allegation that House Speaker Somsak Prissana-nanthakul demanded 20-per-cent kickbacks from two firms planning to bid for a contract to build the new Parliament complex in the Kiakkai area of Bangkok's Dusit district.

Democrat party-list MP Watchara Petthong took to the House floor calling on Deputy House Speaker Charoen Chankomol, who chaired yesterday's session, to set up a panel to look into the allegation against Somsak.

Watchara said a person claiming to be a close aide of Somsak reportedly demanded 20-per-cent payments from two construction contractors that had won approval to bid for the project. The bidders were allegedly asked to pay 10 per cent before the contract was signed, plus a Bt300,000 donation to the Krathin ceremony at Wat Chaeng Sawangnok chaired by Somsak in Khon Kaen's Chum Phae district.

Charoen dismissed the allegation as groundless, saying no offence had been committed, since the bidding had yet to be carried out.

He said Somsak had assigned him to oversee the turning over of state property for the project, a process he said would be delayed by three to five months. The deputy speaker said he had earlier wanted the military to relocate on December 5 from the state land to be used for the new Parliament, but construction of the new military compounds could not be completed on time. Watchara insisted that the investigative panel be established so that Somsak can clear his name.

"Parliament is a sacred place. We have not heard about corruption in the legislative branch,'' he said.


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