3 ministers in hot water after Constitutional Court asked to rule on their qualifications
The Election Commission has faulted three cabinet members and former Prime Minister’s Office Minister M.L. Panadda Diskul for holding shares in companies granted business concessions by state agencies in violation of the Constitution.
The EC voted at a meeting on Thursday to send the case against Science and Technology Minister Suvit Maesincee, Education Minister Teerakiat Jareonsettasin, Deputy Transport Minister Pailin Chuchottaworn and M.L. Panadda to the Constitutional Court to decide whether they should be disqualified for conflict of interest for their share holdings in violation of sections 184 and 186 of the Constitution.
The case against the three incumbent ministers and former PM’s Office minister Panadda was initiated by Pheu Thai party’s legal advisor Ruangkrai Leekitwattana who petitioned the EC to look into the shareholdings of the four individuals following their assets declarations.
Ruangkrai claimed that Panadda had 6,000 shares of Airports of Thailand Plc, the sole operator of Suvarnabhumi, Don Meuang and several other airports across the country.
Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngarm said today that the three ministers and former minister Panadda were fully aware of the case against them after a petition was submitted to the EC and they had already testified with the EC.
Asked whether the three incumbent ministers should stop performing their duties while their case is being considered by the Constitutional Court, Wissanu cited the case of Foreign Minister Don Paramavinai who was also faulted for not declaring the share holding of his wife in excess of 5 percent with the National Anti-Corruption Commission.
In Don’s case, he said the court did not suspend the foreign minister from doing his job.
Likewise, he said that it would depend on the court to decide, adding that the three ministers could opt to stop working by themselves or could offer to quit the cabinet.
Minister Suvit said today he was not worried with the Constitutional Court’s proceedings because they would not affect his work in the government or his political work with the Palang Pracharat party.
He said his work in the Science and Technology Ministry was almost completed and he would quit the cabinet at the right timeto spend full time in politics.
Deputy Transport Minister Pailin, meanwhile, claimed today that he had already transferred all his shares to a private fund before he assumed cabinet portfolio and that he had nothing to do with the management of the shares.