BANGKOK – Thailand’s Deputy PM and Defence Minister Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan the Thai junta’s second-in-command announced on Tuesday (Jan 16) that he was willing to step down from his posts without any regret if he was faulted by the National Anti-Corruption Commission for possessing a diamond ring and luxury wristwatches.
Gen Prawit told reporters at Government House that he will resign if the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) concludes he had committed wrongdoing over the wristwatch saga.
He insisted that pricey wristwatch which was seen on his wrist in the social media was lent to him by a friend whom he did not identify.
Gen Prawit also denied the suggestion that he was a collector of pricey wristwatches, maintaining that the pictures of him wearing expensive wristwatches posted in the social media recently were old pictures which was “recycled” in the social media to give an impression that he has many wristwatches.
The CSI-LA Facebook page, which has been collecting pictures of Gen Prawit wearing luxury wristwatch, posted it’s latest picture of Gen Prawit wearing another wristwatch, believed to be a Rolex Cosmograph Daytona worth about 1 million baht.
It is the first time that the deputy prime minister made clear his stance since he has been in the hot seat over luxury accessories. Reporters spotted him wearing a luxury watch and a diamond ring and later found they had not been declared to the NACC as his assets. Social media users have further checked his photos and found he had worn other luxury watches on different occasions.
As of Tuesday, 24 watches have been unveiled by the CSI LA Facebook account.
According to the Bangkok Post, all eyes have been on NACC president Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit since Gen Prawit was his former boss and friend.
Pol Gen Watcharapol on Jan 9 dismissed worries about the connection and guaranteed a clean investigation, while Gen Prawit on Tuesday reiterated he would not interfere with the investigation.
Watcharapol is a familiar face in the ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO). Soon after the 2014 coup, the NCPO promoted him from deputy police chief to acting police chief.
A few months later, the junta appointed him to the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) before making him a deputy secretary-general to the prime minister attached to Prawit. He was appointed by the NLA to head the NACC a year later.
The NACC under his navigation has a track record of clearing NCPO members of corruption allegations regarding their involvement with the construction of Rajabhakti Park.
His trouble has also turned him into a target of political parties. The latest one was Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva, who warned Prime Minister Prayut Cha-o-cha that his credibility was at stake due to the scandal surrounding his deputy.