6 June 2024

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha hit back at the Opposition over the accusation that his government granted Thai citizenship to Chaiyanat Kornchayanant, in return for the Chinese businessman’s purchase of an entire luxurious housing estate.

In his rebuttal, during the second day of the general debate today (Thursday), the prime minister told the MPs that Kornchayanant entered Thailand in 2011 and applied for Thai citizenship before he became prime minister.

He said he wondered why no one in the previous government knew about that, adding that he does not know which real estate company sold the housing estate to the Chinese businessman.

“If you probe further, you may find out that Kornchayanant’s Thai wife has connections with former ministers in some parties,” said the prime minister, without elaborating, but he assured the House that his government has no policy of granting Thai citizenship to foreigners just because they buy housing units in the country.

The prime minister disclosed that he received a report about Kornchayanant’s alleged grey business activities in Thailand, from former MP and whistle blower Chuwit Kamolvisit, and Thai police’s alleged involvement in illegal activities, such as online gambling.

He said he then passed Chuwit’s report to the police to investigate, adding that he had done the right thing “but it may not please everyone.”

He insisted that he never interferes with the police in their handling of alleged grey business activities or with the judicial process to help any suspects.

Kornchayanant and 40 other suspects have been indicted in the Criminal Court by Thai public prosecutors on multiple drug trafficking and money laundering charges. They are currently being held on remand.

Last night, Move Forward MP Rangsiman Rome accused the government of failing to solve the drug trafficking problem, citing the case of Senator “Or”, a former army officer, who is wanted by the police for suspected involvement in drug trafficking and a warrant for his arrest was eventually issued by the court.

The arrest warrant was, however, later withdrawn and a summons was issued instead, citing his senatorial status, said Rangsiman.

He also alleged that that the land, on which the United Thai Nation Party head office is located, belongs to the senator.

General Prayut is a member of the party and is expected to be the party’s candidate for the next prime minister.