The Attorney General’s Office has filed corruption charges against Palang Pracharat Party’s Viraj Rattanaseth, chairman of the government whip.
These charges involve the budget for building provincial school futsal stadiums. The allegations are over contracting private companies owned by “friends” to build the stadiums with alleged kickbacks, gift baskets, and all sorts of under-the-table hanky panky.
A total of 84 individuals are allegedly involved, including Viraj’s wife and sister-in-law, both of whom are also Palang Pracharat MPs.
But here’s a catch.
These alleged corruptions dated back to when Viraj was an MP for Pheu Thai Party under the Yingluck Shinawatra government.
In case you don’t already know, General Prayut Chan-o-cha’s promises seven years ago, when he rode in on a tank in a military coup, were to clean up “old-style” Thai politics and get rid of corruptions. Seven years on, it’s either he has failed, or he has lied. And we already know he has failed in keeping the streets peaceful. COVID-19 is keeping the streets clear of protests.
When Suthep Thuagsuban and the PDRC took to the streets in 2013 and 2014, they blew the whistle on alleged corruptions by Pheu Thai politicians and old-style family politics.
When General Prawit Wongsuwan formed the Palang Pracharat party, he took in Pheu Thai politicians and perpetuated old-style family politics. Whether it’s Viraj and family, Thamanat Prompow, Pareena Kraikupt, the “Three Friends Gang” of Suriya Juangroongruangkit (yes, Thanathorn’s uncle), Anucha Nakasai, and Somsak Thepsuthin, as well as many others.
So basically, Palang Pracharat is the continuation of old Pheu Thai. Furthermore, members of the PDRC continue to support Palang Pracharat, which shows that corruption is fine and dandy if it’s “our side” doing it, allegedly, of course.
But the pertinent question is this: Why did it take seven years to file the charges?
Every politician is protected under the two uncles’ umbrella. That’s the deal. Give them the election, then return to “business as usual.” But a big political shakeup is coming. Political insiders point to the same thing, a general election by year-end or early 2022.
The two uncles already have the 250 senators in the back pocket. But over the past two years, Palang Pracharat has proved a troublesome, dysfunctional family. This is what happened when you are a conglomerate of too many political factions vying for ministerial seats.
The two uncles got rid of the technocrats, Somkid Jatusripitak and Co. They got rid of the former PDRC/Bangkok elites, Natapol Teepsuwan and Buddhipongse Punnakanta.
General Prawit’s righthand man, Thamanat, is recruiting replacements, MPs who double as local godfathers in their provinces. Those who can guarantee popular votes because they are generous at passing out envelopes at weddings and funerals.
Simply put, seven years after the two uncles’ military coup, politics is business usual, except with much more dictatorial power and much fewer capabilities.