Puppies and watches put pressure on Thai PM, Deputy PM

Originally aired on Channel NewsAsia on January 4, 2018

Puppies and watches - that's not only are those common items people wish for Christmas - these two things are also putting some pressure on both Thai PM Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha and his number two, Dep-PM and Defense Minister Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan. Here are some details.

TRANSCRIPT

It is a ruff start to the new year for the Thai government as both its Prime Minister and one of his deputies are under watch for possible violation of anti-corruption laws.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha was forced to clarify himself why he spent $215 more than the usual market price for three puppies he bought during an official trip to Sukhothai province late last year.

Initially he said that the extra cash was "moral support" given to the breeder. But since Thai officials are prohibited by law to give out or receive gifts of more than $90, watchdogs have indicated  that this is a possible violation of anti-corruption rules. 

Now the PM states that these extra costs were for the vaccination of the puppies and he’s willing to re-sell them.

Even more under fire is his number two, Deputy-PM and Defense Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan. He remains completely silent on why he failed to declare over dozen luxury watches in his list of assets that every minister has to submit when entering office. 

Over the past few weeks, cyber sleuths have to this point discovered at least 15 expensive watches worn by him, some of them costing as much as $100,000.

The National Anti-Corruption Commission is looking into this matter, but has not provided an update so far.

Both cases come at a somewhat inopportune time for the military rulers who are almost four years at the helm now since the 2014 coup and are risking overstaying their welcome and democratic elections still an uncertainty, despite being announced for November later this year.