Prawit pledges to resign ‘if people don’t want him’
The defiant Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan has promised to quit if people do not want him to stay.
“I have served the country for 50 years [as a military officer and minister]. Do you think if I have done anything to ruin the country? I want to work for the country. If people don’t want me to, I’m ready to leave my post,” he said during a luncheon with Defence Ministry officials, Armed Forces officials and journalists at the ministry in a New Year celebration.
Prawit has been seen as a lightning rod for Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha’s government. Prayut, who is Prawit’s junior military classmate, has been pressured to suspend his right-hand man from the post after the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) initiated an investigation of Prawit’s possession of about 25 luxury watches, some of which reportedly cost Bt3 million.
Prawit declared assets of about Bt83 million to the NACC when he joined Prayut’s government in 2014, but failed to declare the watches he has been seen wearing since late last year.
In the course of the investigation, he told the anti-graft agency that friends had lent him the watches, although the explanation was widely criticised by regime critics and the general public. At present, it appears that the NACC will accept the excuse, which would mean that Prawit was not obligated to declare the watches.
Prawit also said his ministry had supported the government for almost four years and maintained security and order in the country.
However, there were some groups of people trying to accuse the government of failing to perform, he said, adding that the government would fight against such opposition.
Prawit also referred to Prayut’s recent visits to the provinces, which were seen by critics as the premier seeking political support from voters.
“The premier just wants to take care of people. He will not contest the election so do not playing politics with him,” Prawit said.