Suthep sticks to story despite retraction
Democrat Party secretary-general Suthep Thaugsuban yesterday stood by his story of how certain Thai Rak Thai Party figures schemed to use smaller parties to get around electoral rules.
He said a witnesses who on Saturday retracted her accusations against certain Thai Rak Thai figures must have been pressured to do so.
"I believe she faced heavy pressure to retract her statement. I don't know why, but I figure that when you are in the hands of professionals, things like this can happen," Suthep said at a press conference at the Democrat Party headquarters.
On Saturday, Thattima Pawalee, a party-list candidate for the small and little-known Thai Ground Party who testified in a video recording produced by Suthep to support his claim against the ruling party, filed a police complaint accusing him of illegal detention.
Thattima told police she had been kept at Suthep's home in Surat Thani for several days after being hired by the senior Democrat to make false allegations against Thai Rak Thai members. She said she was promised Bt1 million for the job.
Suthep has accused certain Thai Rak Thai figures of paying small, little-known political parties to field candidates in several constituencies where the party's candidates would otherwise have been unopposed because the three former opposition parties - Democrat, Chat Thai and Mahachon - are all boycotting the April 2 general election.
The electoral law requires that candidates standing for election unopposed need to get a minimum of 20 per cent of the votes in that constituency to be elected.
Suthep yesterday rejected Thattima's claim, saying that neither he nor other Democrats had offered her money to act as a witness to the alleged scheme. He said that Thattima's statement was recorded with her consent after she insisted on the story.
The veteran politician said that Thattima, along with three other witnesses he produced to the media last week, had given written statements at Surat Thani's Phunpin police station to say that they "took refuge" at Suthep's house in the southern province voluntarily.
Suthep said he had more witnesses, who preferred to give their statements before a court.
Thattima yesterday went to the Election Commission to explain herself on the matter.
Meanwhile, Thai Rak Thai spokesman Sita Divari yesterday asked Suthep to state clearly whether he had made the allegations against the Thai Rak Thai on his own behalf or as the Democrat secretary-general.
"If he spoke as the Democrat secretary-general, the party could be dissolved," he said, referring to punishment prescribed for a political party that makes false allegations against another.
Sita said that during the video recording Suthep appeared to be trying to influence Thattima after posing certain questions to her. He added that he heard someone whispering the answers to some questions to Thattima.
Deputy Thai Rak Thai spokesman Jatuporn Prompan yesterday said that the Democrats were "committing hara-kiri" by making the "false allegations".
Democrat deputy spokesman Yuttapong Charasathien yesterday presented a man at the party headquarters who he said had knowledge about the scheme to "create artificial competition" in the April 2 election. He identified the man as Adisak Sombatkham, an election candidate of Thai Ground Party in Maha Sarakham.