A Chit Arsa and an Army Major, a very Thai story

Investigating an influential businessman in one thing. Investigating an Army Major is quite another.

Prasit Jeawkok is the quintessential Thai-style rags-to-riches story, a mover and shaker who waltzes in and out of army barracks and government buildings with swag.

According to the article in Workpoint Today by Wisruth Sinpongseporn, Prasit hailed from Krabi Province and a family of rubber farmers. He went from working as a waiter to a salesman and building a business empire encompassing IT, real estate, travel, and others. Along the way, there were many “shady” dealings in between.

Prasit is also quite the self-promoter, according to the article. He called himself Thailand’s Jack Ma and hired music legend Add Caraboa to pen a song called “Prasit, the Giver.” Here’s a taste from the song: “Chairman Prasit Jeawkok whom we love / with moral and wealth he’s plentiful.”

The Thai-stye rags-to-riches story is this: his empire is the result of decades of forging patronage ties with generals, politicians, and bureaucrats, plus professing undying devotion for the institution as a leading Chit Arsa (a volunteer group created by the institution). With these essentials come ever more wealth, power, and respect.

In December 2020, Progressive Movement’s Pannika Wanich alledged Prasit as the man behind the army’s IO (Information Operations) attack on pro-democracy social media users and identified him as a “shady” mover and shaker.

Consequently, Prasit went on a media tour, professing his undying devotion to the institution and the goodness of his morals. The stunt included unbuttoning his shirt on national TV to reveal a “Long Live” tattoo and declaring, “If I’m an IO, then I’m the righteous IO.”

With that, the story became yesterday’s news, until 15 May of this year.

The police summoned Prasit on business fraud charges, allegedly defrauding more than a billion baht from investors and consumers. Last reported, Prasit has met with the police and declared his innocence but kept his shirt buttoned.

Since this is our beloved Thailand, such a delicious story must also have cherry on top.

As mentioned earlier, the Thai-style rags-to-riches story involves connections. Therefore, Army Major Doctor Amaraphon Wisetsuk is also alleged in the frauds.

To which her commanding officer, Lt Gen Thanet Wongcha-um, chief of the second Army Region, launched an internal investigation into whether she violated the military code of conduct.

He told the media the investigation revealed her alleged crimes were committed when she wasn’t wearing an army uniform and outside work hours. Therefore, this is a police matter.

Which, of course, the army is ready to cooperate should the police request.

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