Thammanat Prompao elected Palang Pracharat Party’s secretary-general
Thailand’s controversial Deputy Agriculture Minister Thammanat Prompao, who was sentenced to four years in an Australian prison in 1994 for drug trafficking, was elected secretary-general of the country’s ruling Palang Pracharat Party (PPRP) today, replacing Prime Minister’s Office Minister Anucha Nakasai.
When asked about his conviction and imprisonment, he claimed that the heroin, which he was accused of attempting to smuggle into Australia was, in fact, flour.
An influential political fixer, Thammanat was nominated as secretary-general of the party by Paiboon Nititawan, one of the deputy leaders, at a general assembly today (Friday) in the northeastern province of Khon Kaen, which also saw the election of the party leader and the entire executive committee, following the resignation of the party leader, General Prawit Wongsuwan, who was not present at the meeting.
Paiboon dissolved his own party – People Reform Party – which only had one MP which was himself, in 2019 shortly after the new government took office and joined the PPRP.
General Prawit’s resignation was intended to pave the way for a revamp of the party’s leadership. He was re-elected as the party leader uncontested, after he was nominated by Paiboon.
After Paiboon’s nomination of Thammanat, the incumbent secretary-general Anucha Nakasai told the meeting that he had served in the post for a year and has decided to quit, to give an opportunity for a newcomer to replace him.
The meeting also reduced the number of the party’s executive committee from 27 to 26, with General Prawit as the chair. Most of the executive committee members elected are “old faces”, with a few new members to replace former education minister Nataphol Teepsuwan and former digital minister Buddhipongse Punnakanta, who were disqualified after they were convicted for their involvement in protests to overthrow the government of then Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra in 2013-14.
Under the revamped party-structure, the number of deputy leaders has been reduced from 10 to just four, namely Suriya Juangroongruangkit, Santi Prompat, Wirat Rattanaseth and Paiboon Nititawan.
Justice Minister Somsak Thepsuthin, one of the leaders of the Sam Mitr faction in the party, has been dropped from the list of deputy leaders.
Thammanat told reporters, before the party’s general assembly today, that he was not sure whether there would be any other contestants for the secretary-general’s post, adding that he would try his best to make PPRP a strong political institution, dedicated to the public interest, especially to grass-root people.