11 July 2024

Rice Department Director General Natthakit Khongthip told the media today that it was his initiative to hatch a plot to ensnare serial petitioner Srisuwan Janya, because he was very annoyed by his relentless attempts to expose alleged corruption in his department, despite the fact that he had been cleared of the allegation.

He also said that he had painstakingly collected incriminating evidence against Srisuwan, including ordering a CCTV system to be installed at the Rice Department when he learned that the target come to his office to have coffee with him.

The evidence was submitted to the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission and the National Anti-Corruption Commission before the two watchdogs decided to launch a sting operation to nab Srisuwan at his house in Pathum Thani province last Friday.

Natthakit said that he and his wife were deeply annoyed by Srisuwan’s persistent attempts to implicate him in corruption and they decided to see the petitioner at his house on November 28th to “ask him directly what he want from me and why he has to keep complaining.”

He said that he also brought “Nai Mu”, an advisor to Agriculture Minister Thammanat Prompao, as a witness. He insisted that the meeting was not about giving money to Srisuwan to stop him harassing him, because he has done nothing wrong.

He claimed that both sides reached an understanding and they left Srisuwan’s home.

Natthakit said, however, that about 3 weeks after, Srisuwan went to file complaints against the Royal Rain-making and Agricultural Aviation Department and the Rice Department, adding that the day before, Srisuwan asked to come to his office for a cup of coffee.

“It never stops. I am very annoyed. Who does he think he is?  How can Thailand survive with such people,” he lamented, apparently referring to Srisuwan.

Natthakit said he didn’t inform the agriculture minister in advance about his plot to trap Srisuwan, because he didn’t want them to be in trouble.

Asked about the 1.5 million baht found in a package in front of Srisuwan’s House last Friday, he explained that he wanted to make sure that Srisuwan was caught red-handed, after some payments had already been made.

Thammanat later showed up at the press conference to offer moral support to Thanakit.

Srisuwan and two members of the United Thai Nation party, Yoswaris Chuklom and Pimnattha Jiraputthiphak, have been charged with extortion. All have been released on bail.

The Rice Department is a small department in the Agriculture Ministry, allocated about a 2 billion baht budget each year. This year, however, the department was allotted with 15 billion baht, to fund a program to cut the production costs of rice farming. Management of the fund has, however, been transferred to the Bank of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives.