The cabinet’s appointment of former beauty queen Tanaporn Srivirach to the prime minister’s secretariat office may be big news this week. But cronyism and nepotism in Thai politics are old news any week.
The 25-year-old Miss Thailand 2016 is the common-law wife of Deputy Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Thamanat Prompow. The infamous politician was convicted and imprisoned on drug trafficking charges and spent four years in an Australian jail in the 1990s. He’s also one of the most influential Palang Pracharat politicians.
Tanaporn is not the first of the Prompow family to enjoy a political appointment, however. In 2019, Thammanat’s younger brother, Akara, became director of the lucrative Marketing Organization for Farmers (Or Tor Kor).
When asked about the appointment of someone seemingly with no qualification, deputy prime minister Wissanu Krea-ngam, who’s the head of the prime minister’s office’s legal affairs, simply replied, “It can be done.”
In fact, it has always been done.
Nepotism was one of the biggest criticisms against the previous Pheu Thai government. The parliament was nicknamed, “spousal parliament” due to several Pheu Thai politicians who were husbands and wives. To which, supporters of the Thaksin Shinawatra political faction always defended, “Well, at least they were all elected.”
The same cannot be said, however, for General Prayut Chan-o-cha’s “sibling senate.”
Of the 250 military junta-appointed senators, the siblings are:
General Preecha Chan-o-cha, younger brother to General Prayut.
Police Lieutenant General Wibul Bangtamai, married to the sister of General Prayut’s wife.
Naval Admiral Sithawat Wongsuwan, brother to Deputy Prime minister General Prawit.
Som Jatusripitak, brother to former Deputy Prime Minister Somkid.
Airforce Lieutenant General Chalermchai Krea-ngam, brother to Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu.
Surachai Danaitangtrakul, brother to Palang Pracharat’s Suraporn, a committee member of the deputy minister of Energy Ministry.
Jirada Songprapha, sister to Montien, Palang Pracharat MP.
Amorn Ninprem, brother to Adun, Palang Pracharat MP.
Here’s a bonus senator: Upakit Pachariyangkul, former husband of the infamous Pareena Kraikupt, Palang Prachart MP.
Not only family relations can get you a senatorial seat with a lucrative package, but being brothers in arms also gets you into the club.
Brothers in Arms
Of the 250 military junta-appointed senators, 101 are generals. All the chiefs of the armed forces and the police force get automatic seats.
If you’re a member of the Kor Sor Chor (NCPO, National Council for Peace and Order), otherwise known as the dictatorship regime of 2014-19, you are a shoo-in as a senator. For example, General Thanasak Patimaprakorn, Naval Admiral Narong Pipattanasai, Air Force Admiral Prajin Jantong, and Police General Adul Saengsingkaew, plus many others.
If you were a classmate of General Prawit at the military academy, you’d be well taken care of. For example, General Pairoj Panichsamai, General Noppadol Intapanya, and others.
Of course, if you’re a classmate of General Prayut, you weren’t left out either. For example, General Prasart Sukhasem, General Yodyuth Boonyatikarn, and others.