Thammanat’s group votes with Opposition over Thailand’s draft liquor bill
Several Thai Economic Party MPs, led by former Palang Pracharath party secretary-general Thammanat Prompao, voted with the Opposition in supporting the draft liquor bill, aimed at breaking the domestic liquor oligopoly, and opposed the proposal to send it to the cabinet for vetting.
14 out of 18 Thai Economic Party MPs voted in line with the Opposition. Thammanat himself did not cast a vote.
In his Facebook post late last night, the former deputy agriculture minister said that he and his group of MPs, who were sacked from the ruling Palang Pracharath party in January over their demand for a party restructuring, will do anything they deem beneficial to grassroot people or local liquor brewers, so they have a chance in business and an opportunity to prosper.
He said that his group voted yesterday to support the “progressive” liquor bill along the opposition line because they didn’t want it to be sent to the cabinet for vetting, which would deprive ordinary people of the chance to make a living.
Thammanat said he believes he and his group at the Thai Economic party have kept their promise to the people to keep their interests as the party’s first priority.
The group’s vote yesterday is a clear indication that they have broken away from the control of Deputy Prime Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan, leader of the Palang Pracharath party, who claimed earlier that the group remains loyal to the government.
Not only Thammanat’s group, but some government MPs from the Democrat and Bhumjaithai parties, also voted in support of the draft liquor bill.
The draft bill, proposed by Taopiphop Limjittrakorn of the Move Forward party, aims to open up Thailand’s lucrative liquor industry, which is currently confined to a handful of families, and to allow newcomers, such as local brewers, to enter the market.
Taopiphop thanked the government MPs who voted in support of the bill, saying that he hopes he will receive their support in the future.
A campaigner against the oligopoly in liquor industry, Taopiphop was arrested five years ago for producing his own brand of craft beer.
A highly controversial figure who was convicted for drug trafficking in Australia in the 1990’s, Thammanat quickly gained influence within the ruling Palang Pracharath Party and the government coalition, having helped the party win several by-elections, before the growing rift with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and other PPRP members forced him out.