BANGKOK — Netizens are left in disbelief on Friday to hear that a coalition politician accused of encroaching on public land was formally appointed to a House Committee on anti-corruption measures.
#Parina, a hashtag referring to Phalang Pracharath MP Parina Kraikup, soared to the top-trending place on Thai Twitter hours after her appointment was published on the Royal Government Gazette website, though she’s been serving as a de facto member since November.
According to the announcement, Parina and a fellow Phalang Pracharath lawmaker, Sira Jenjaka, joined the committee to fill vacant seats left by MPs from the same party who resigned earlier.
“The best thing they can do to belittle citizens is to appoint a person who is ridden with graft into an anti-graft committee,” user @wongthanong tweeted.
“I’m not surprised why she isn’t afraid of her forest encroachment case. It turns out that she’s preparing to occupy the seat,” another user @nnff_kk wrote. “I’m so depressed with this country.”
Parina stands accused of building her poultry farm on two portions of public lands in Ratchaburi province – one in protected forest and another in government land plots reserved for impoverished farmers.
It has been nearly two months since the scandal made the headlines, but the authorities have yet to settle on which department would pursue criminal charges against her.
Environmental minister Varawut Silpa-archa on Thursday said he has not received the latest report from the Royal Forest Department, which oversees Parina’s forest intrusion case.
However, he said that the Council of State, which is tasked with interpreting the laws, has called the department to testify twice already.
“We should be able to settle the case soon when the Council of State reaches its decision,” Varawut said. “I confirm that the case is going forward without any delays. The law is applicable to anyone without reservations.”
Parina on her part told Workpoint News that she’s still considered innocent by the law, and therefore eligible to carry out her duties.
Hours before the announcement was made, Parina and Sira caught brief attention from the media when Parina sparked a quarrel at a House Committee meeting.
The argument broke out when she asked the committee chairman, Seri Ruam Thai MP Sereepisut Temiyavet, why her protest against him was not included in the meeting’s agenda, to which Sereepisut shot back, “none of your damn business!”
Parina then demanded Sereepisut to take back his words, which he refused to do so, leading to a shouting match witnessed by multiple reporters. Sira also jumped to Parina’s defense, escalating the feud even further.
After the trio argued for about 15 minutes, Sereepisut eventually called the meeting to be over.