BANGKOK, � The raging controversy over Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan’s luxury watch is a personal matter which needs to be sorted out between him and the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC).

According to Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, no one has tried to protect Prawit over the issue.

“This is a matter of the NACC and it is General Prawit’s personal business. He has proceeded on his own (on the matter). Nobody has tried to protect him,” he told the media after chairing the weekly Cabinet meeting at the Government House here yesterday.

Prayut has faced mounting pressure from political parties and non-governmental organisations to take action on his deputy who was spotted wearing a luxury watch and diamond ring during a photo session for the new Cabinet recently.

Both luxury items were not declared to the NACC when Prawit took office in 2014.

Monday, Thai Constitution Protection Association secretary-general Srisuwan Janya urged the Prime Minister to use Article 44 to temporarily suspend Prawit from his Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister posts, pending conclusion of the investigation.

Prawit had said he would explain the issue over his watch and diamond ring to the NACC soon.

Netizens and observers in Thailand suspected the luxury watch at the centre of the controversy to be Richard Mille brand and valued between four and 10 million Baht (about RM506,000 to RM1.3 million).

Meanwhile, Prayut, who is also head of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) said the government had intially agreed to use Article 44 to extend more time to political parties to update their membership under a recently-passed organic law related to political activities.

The organic law which took effect last October will expire early next year.

“The NCPO’s meeting agreed to use Article 44 to resolve the problem, to extend more time so the people, old and new political parties will have more time for activities such as updating membership and others,” said Prayut.

Since seizing power through a coup in 2014, the military-led government has suspended all political activities in the country, leading to widespread criticism including from the international community.

The government has promised to lift the ban on political activities and hold the widely-anticipated general election sometime next year which will mark Thailand’s return to democratic rule.


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