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EC set to file petition regarding Don’s fitness for office over wife’s shareholding


THE FATE of Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai hangs in the balance after an initial report said the Election Commission (EC) found him lacking ministerial qualifications as required by the Constitution.

The EC secretary-general, Pol Colonel Jarungwit Phumma, yesterday neither confirmed nor denied the report, and cited the need for confidentiality while Don’s case was still under investigation.
He added that the EC decision would only say whether Don was in breach of the law but it could not determine whether he could continue in his present job.
The Constitutional Court will issue a final verdict after it receives a petition from the EC, which is reportedly drafting it after reaching an agreement on Don’s case last week.
The EC reportedly voted 3 against and 2 for Don’s qualification for the office. 
The case stemmed from a petition filed last year by Pheu Thai Party lawyer Ruangkrai Leekitwattana with the EC, seeking to probe whether nine ministers, including Don, should be disqualified from their posts. 
According to reports, Don’s wife Narirat allegedly holds more than a 5-per-cent stake in a company. Despite the requirement in the charter’s Article 187, the stocks were not declared to the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) within 30 days of Don joining the Cabinet.
The Article requires that ministers, their spouses and children under the legal age of 20 years old must not benefit from stock holdings beyond legal limits. They must declare their stock holdings and transfer them to legal persons to manage them without their involvement.
The current charter was promulgated in 2017, almost two years after Don was appointed foreign minister and three years after his appointment in the junta Cabinet – he was initially deputy foreign minister.
The charter’s Article 264 requires that active Cabinet members must be legal as laid out by the Constitution. EC set to file petition regarding Don’s fitness for office over wife’s shareholding
Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha is aware of the issue but has refused to comment.
Meanwhile Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam, who is a legal expert, looked on the bright side, saying the Constitutional Court’s decision on Don’s case should help “set standards” for politicians in future. He also expressed sympathy for his fellow Cabinet member.
“Don’s case is different from that of others. He was a minister before the charter was enacted and regulated such requirements,” Wissanu said. “It’s sad because the stock belongs to his wife, not him.”
The deputy also explained that Narirat holds stocks in a family enterprise, overseen by seven siblings including her. They run a condominium rental business.
“The business is not of stock-market scale. I can see their honesty in that,” he added. “His wife might have considered it [the holding] a domestic, family issue, so she did not declare it to [the NACC].”
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Busadee Santipitaks said that Don was still on duty as usual yesterday. So far, there are no plans to suspend him or have someone else act in his place.
 

Published : June 01, 2018

By : THE NATION