(23 August) 3 Pheu Thai
Party MPs protested the allegation that they forced a Thai Airways passenger plane en route to an
airport in Bangkok to land at another airport because it is closer to the hotel they were staying.
Mr. Boonyord Suktinthai, a Democrat MP, had previously alleged that Mr. Samart Kaewmeechai,
Mr. Visut Chainarun, and Ms. Arunee Chamnarnya were on board a TG flight on 12 August bound for
Suvarnabhumi Airport east of Bangkok, but they later coerced the captain to land at Don Mueang
Airport in northern Bangkok.
The Democrat says such action is an example of how Pheu Thai
Party MPs abuses their power.
The accusation first surfaced as an online news item in the
Yellowshirts-allied Manager-ASTV website. The website cited unidentified sources for its
story. Many commentators derided Mr. Samart, Mr. Visut, and Ms. Arunee, while others shared the
story widely on the social network.
After days of silence, the 3 Pheu Thai MPs staged a press
conference denying the story.
The lawmakers said they were indeed on flight 141 on that day,
and the plane did land at Don Mueang Airport. But, they said, it was because the airplane was facing
a stormy weather conditions, the runway at Suvarnnabhumi was not cleared, and the captain decided to
land at Don Mueang for refuelling.
Mr. Samart told reporters a passenger had requested to
disembark at Don Mueang, which the officials allowed, but he and other lawmakers remained seated on
the flight. The plane eventually left Don Mueang at 23.30 and the 3 MPs arrived at Suvarnnabhumi
shortly after midnight, according to Mr. Samart.
He encouraged Mr. Boonyord to file the
report to the Parliamentary committee for a full investigation, so that he can provide evidence to
prove his innocence, such as the flight log, witnesses on the plane, and CCTV footage at
Mr. Visut said he would not take the matter to the court, but
challenged Mr. Boonyord to bring out evidences about the alleged scandal.
If he can do so,
we 3 MPs will resign from our position … and we will never set foot in Bangkok. But if what Mr.
Boonyord spoke is not true, we request that he should resign, Mr. Visut said.
Later at the
Parliament, Mr. Boonyord clarified the allegation against the 3 MPs by telling the reporters that he
was merely repeating a story from a certain media, and he was simply doing his job to bring the
matter to the public′s attention.
He blamed the said media for providing insufficient details
which led to the perception that the 3 Pheu Thai lawmakers left the plane at Don Mueang
Mr. Boonyord also refused to accept Mr. Visut′s challenge, reasoning that it was not
necessary that he bet his career on the matter.
anti-government critics, Manager-ASTV has a long history of publishing unverified rumours to
discredit Pheu Thai Party and Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
Despite its reputation for
the vague journalistic practice, the website is one of the most clicked in