Deputy Agriculture Minister, and Palang Pracharat 'fixer', Thammanat Prompow, has been cleared by a Thai court to continue to hold office in Thailand despite his previous heroin trafficking charges in Australia in 1993.
The Court maintained that, as the case was tried in another country other than Thailand, his conviction has no bearing on his standing as a member of parliament in Thailand. That same standard doesn't hold for foreigners who enter Thailand with foreign court convictions, which are used to deny them entry.
55 year old Thammanat Prompow (also spelt as Prompao) has now been cleared to continue serving the Cabinet of the Palang Pracharat coalition government.
Fending off a censure motion in the Thai parliament last year Mr. Thammanat claimed, amongst other things…
"The thing the police and authorities in the state of NSW said was 3.2 kilograms of heroin, it was flour."
His claims differ from the lab tests conducted on behalf of the convicting Court by the Australian Government Analytical Laboratories who were asked to analyse 3 kilograms of white powder that had been seized as evidence in the cases. The analyst was Phillip McKay who tested for "colour and solubility, chromatography and spectrometry".
The tests showed that the powder was "impure heroin hydrochloride and at 74% purity amounted to a touch over 2.3 kilograms of heroin".
The Australian Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, both Fairfax Media papers, reported in 2019 that Mr. Thammanat had pleaded guilty and accepted a 6 year jail term for "conspiring to import heroin" from Bangkok to Sydney. After serving 4 years he was deported back to Thailand. At the time he had the name 'Manat Bophlom'.
In 2019, Mr. Thammanat, then serving as an MP under the Prayut Chan-o-cha government, strenuously fended off a censure motion against him and denying the serious allegations against him.
Mr. Thammanat, despite his tenuous grip on the facts relating to his 1993 drug trial in Australia, has also been able to shake off his political past as an MP in the opposition Pheu Thai party.
In the 2014 general election he ran for a seat in the lower house as a Pheu Thai Party candidate, the party led by Yingluck Shinawatra. That election was declared "invalid' when the NCPO, under the leadership of General Prayut Chan-o-cha, seized power in May, 2014. Thammanat was ordered to report to the military-led National Council for Peace and Order at the time. 4 years later he joined the Palang Pracharath Party.
Opposition MP Teeratchai Panthumas, from the Move Forward Party, noted the Thai constitution states that a person is unable to serve as an MP or a cabinet minister "if previously sentenced to jail for a drug-related offence".
Pichai Naripthaphan, Pheu Thai's deputy leader, is quoted in Thai Enquirer …
"…having a person associated with drugs to hold on to a cabinet position is disgraceful. It shows the low level of standard in the current government and the country because this would not happen abroad."
Two weeks ago it was rumoured that Thammanat Prompow would be given responsibility to oversee the government's coordination of Covid services and programs in Thailand's southern provinces.
The Democrat Party balked at the prospect, threatening to walk away from the government coalition. The government backed off from that idea and the Democrats re-affirmed their support to remain in the coalition.
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