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Former Massage Parlour Tycoon Becomes Thailand’s Anti-Corruption Hero

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Former Massage Parlour Tycoon Becomes Thailand's Anti-Corruption Hero

Thailand’s Chuwit Kamolvisit has earned the title of anti-corruption hero after repeatedly exposing police bribery and illegal businesses linked to corrupt state officials. Chuwit has progressed from a massage parlour tycoon to a politician, a convict, a TV talk-show host, and a crusader against Thailand’s rampant corruption.

In recent months, he has been working as a whistleblower, gathering evidence against Chinese triad gangs and the dishonest law enforcers who help them thrive in Thailand. He also criticized senior police officers, accusing them of engaging in illegal online gambling.

Chuwit, 61, recently produced a video clip and an eyewitness to back up allegations made by a Taiwanese actress that Thai police demanded a bribe of 27,000 baht to release her and her friends after they were discovered in possession of a vaping device, which is illegal in Thailand.

He also claimed that the national police chief recently told him to “tone things down” after he caused the police force a series of headaches.

Popular in the media

Chuwit’s outgoing personality and controversial remarks have made him a media darling. He has piqued the interest of both Thailand’s and international media, Thai PBS Reports.

He was featured in Mediacorp‘s “Maverick Politicians” series, which premiered in 2017 in Singapore. “Chuwit Kamolvisit is a former Thai massage-parlor baron,” according to the episode synopsis. The self-proclaimed super-pimp sold his company to launch his own political party. He has turned to the media as a talk show host for his anti-corruption crusade after exposing multiple scandals in parliament.”

Chuwit told Reuters in 2011, while serving as an opposition MP and leader of a small party called Love Thailand, that corruption was eating the country and that he wanted to become a one-man parliamentary watchdog to root out politicians who were no better than mafia bosses and vice tycoons.

“They call me a pimp, but that doesn’t bother me. Sometimes I confuse a pimp with a politician. “A pimp is better than a politician, in fact,” he was quoted as saying.

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I’m too pure for politics in Thailand.

Chuwit told Singapore’s Channel News Asia after becoming an MP in the 2011 election that politics was dirtier than his previous business.

“When I first entered politics, I thought I’d make the system more transparent and help the country. But it was too filthy for me. Even though I consider myself to be filthy, politics is filthier than I am. “I am too pure for Thai politics,” he admitted in an interview.

In 2004 and 2008, he ran unsuccessfully for Bangkok governor. He finished third on both occasions, receiving 13.5% of the vote on the first attempt and 15.8% on the second.

Chuwit “touched the hearts” of Bangkok voters, according to political scientist Chalidaporn Songsamphan, because he was straightforward.

“He speaks the language of many middle-class Thais who are dissatisfied with the Thai leadership, and they see him as a genuine alternative,” she said.

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Hong Kong native, raised in Chinatown

Chuwit was born in Hong Kong on August 29, 1961, to a Thai-Chinese father and a Thai mother. He was raised in Bangkok’s Chinatown.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in commerce and accounting from Thammasat University before going on to earn a master’s degree in business administration from the University of San Diego in the United States. Thammasat University later awarded him a master’s degree in political science.

In 1989, after returning from the United States, he opened his first massage parlour, Victoria Secret. It grew into the Davis Group, a Bangkok-based business empire with six luxury massage parlours. Chuwit was making a million baht per day from his six soapy-massage establishments at the height of his fortunes in the mid-1990s.

In January 2003, hundreds of men allegedly hired by Chuwit demolished several bars and shops on Sukhumvit Square, which was built on a valuable plot of land. The raid resulted in a Supreme Court case 13 years later, in January 2016, in which Chuwit was sentenced to two years in prison after pleading guilty.

Chuwit began claiming that after failing to obtain police protection for his crime in 2003, he had paid over 100 million baht in bribes to the police in order for his massage parlour sexual services business to thrive. Thailand makes prostitution illegal.

He exposed corruption in the unpopular police force the following year by listing the bribes he allegedly paid to senior officers, including Rolex watches and free services at his parlours. He claimed that because an envelope was too small, he had to put the bribe money in a garbage bag.

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