Thailand’s Democrat party leader apologized on Tuesday for allegations of abuse involving a former executive in a case some activists are calling the Kingdom’s first “#MeToo” moment.
Democrat Party deputy leader Prinn Panitchpakdi, 44, resigned last week after five women accused him separately of being a sexual abuser and a rapist.
The son of former WTO chief Supachai Panitchpakdi has denied the charges and was released on bail on Sunday.
According to police, nine more women have made similar allegations against the former democrat party deputy leader Prinn. Despite the new allegations, he has not commented publicly. He said he was not available for comment when contacted by Reuters on Tuesday.
Democrat party’s leader, Jurin Laksanawisit, acknowledged he endorsed Prinn as a senior party member and apologized for the scandal on Tuesday.
In a news conference, Jurin stated that he is deeply sorry and must apologize for everything that has happened relating to a Democrat Party member.
As party leader, I must acknowledge that I played a key role in the process of bringing Prinn into the party.”
Since last week, #MeToo has been trending on social media platforms in Thailand. Users have expressed outrage over allegations of misconduct and a perception of impunity for the political elite of the Democrat Party.
Democrat Party to Investigate
In the ruling coalition, Julin, who is the minister of commerce and deputy prime minister, said his party opposes sexual harassment and violence against children and women.
Aside from stepping down as chairman of two government committees on gender equality and women’s issues, he also said the Democrat Party will conduct its own investigation.
“He said, “We will not intervene to protect Prinn or interfere with the justice process.”
Reuters reported that Trairong Piwpan, deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Bureau, confirmed that 14 victims had come forward with allegations against Prinn. Of these, nine met with police on Monday for interviews.
People’s Lawyers Foundation attorney Sittra Biabungkerd says the alleged victims were aged between 17 and 30 when the alleged offenses took place. Some of these offenses took place more than a decade ago, and five have claimed to have been raped.
There are still many more who are afraid to come forward,” Sittra told Reuters.