By THE NATION
The change to the committee was made via the absolute power of Article 44 and issued on Wednesday.
Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday denied the move resulted from the watch scandal, which remains unresolved, and refused to say whether the move was taken to boost the government’s image.
“[We just tried to] reduce his workload. There’s no problem at all. Don’t think that,” Prayut told reporters.
“This has nothing to do with [the watch scandal].”
Prawit had been seen wearing different watches that could have cost from millions to tens of millions of baht, raising questions about possible corruption.
But the Deputy PM and Defence Minister maintained that the watches had been lent by a friend, who had subsequently died.
The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) has been investigating the case, but following repeated delays it has so far failed to rule on whether Prawit’s possession of the watches breached any laws.
Prawit’s role on the committee – while being scrutinised over the watches – had previously been red-flagged by the head of a sub-panel under the anti-corruption committee, Tortrakul Yomnak.
However, Prayut yesterday reiterated that his deputy’s removal from the committee was to lighten Prawit’s workload. Deputy Prime Minister General Chatchai Sarikulya would take on some of Prawit’s work, he said.
“There are as many as 50 committees, so we have to take some off Prawit, otherwise, Prawit will have too many meetings to attend,” he said.