Palang Pracharat MP for Ratchaburi province, Ms. Pareena Kraikupt, has been found, by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), to have committed a gross violation of political ethics over her illegal occupation and exploitation of national forest land in the province, which could cost her the parliamentary seat if she is found guilty by the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Political Office Holders.
NACC spokesman Niwatchai Kasemmongkol told the media on Wednesday that Pareena and her father, former Ratchaburi MP Thavee Kraikupt, allegedly encroached onto and occupied four plots of land in national forest reserves, on the left side of the Pachee River in Chom Bung district of Ratchaburi, since 2003 and covering nearly 114 hectares.
Both had arranged for electricity to be supplied to the land, by the Chom Bung electricity authority, and had paid local taxes (Por Bor Thor 5) to Rang Bua Tambon administration organization (TAO) for use of the land, which was partially developed for the rearing of livestock.
All the plots were transferred to Ms. Pareena by her father in 2012. Two years later, however, the TAO stopped collecting local taxes from her, but she continued to occupy and utilize the land, without the right to do so. Additionally, no permission was sought from the Royal Forest Department or the Land Reform Office to utilize the land, said Mr. Niwatchai.
From 2012 to 2019, Ms. Pareena sought permission from both the Rang Bua TAO and Livestock Department to engage in livestock business and set up a company to operate the business, said the NACC spokesman, adding that she continued to run the business and occupy the land even though she had been elected to parliament.
In her capacity as an MP, the NACC ruled that she must perform her duties honestly and be a role model for other people, without engaging in activities deemed to be a conflict of interests. She did not and was, therefore, found to have engaged in a gross violation of political ethics, said Niwatchai.
He said that Pareena’s case is the first of its kind under the new ethical standards for holders of political office, adding that, if the case is accepted by the Supreme Court for consideration, Pareena must stop performing her duties as an MP immediately, unless the court rules otherwise.
Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)