Opposition Politician Resigns Amid Army Housing Gaffe

Lt. Gen. Pongskorn Rodchompoo speaks at a rally on Feb. 15, 2020.

BANGKOK — A former army general resigned from his post as a deputy leader of the Future Forward on Sunday night after it emerged that he was living in a taxpayer-funded army residence – a practice he himself condemned.

Lt. Gen. Pongskorn Rodchompoo, who appeared onstage in a Saturday rally to criticize alleged corruption inside the army, said he’s sorry for failing to inform the public about his use of the army living quarters. His party is currently campaigning to end the policy of allowing retired officers to live in army residences long after they are retired.

“I ask for forgiveness for not informing the public that I still reside at a house inside a military unit because I was in the process of preparing to move out,” Pongskorn wrote on his Facebook.

Pongskorn added that he will vacate the army residence by the end of March.

His admission came during a TV interview in which Pongskorn lashed out at generals who still use the army housing despite their retirement. But upon questioning by the host, Pongskorn said he, too, lives in one of the army-owned houses.

Pongskorn said he received permission from the army to extend his stay at the residence because he does not own any property.

According to financial declarations he filed to the national anti-graft agency, Pongskorn has about 21 million baht in debt.

In a video posted on social media, Future Forward spokeswoman Pannika Wanich apologized to its supporters.

“The Future Forward Party apologizes to the people, supporters, and all party members for causing worries regarding the stance of the party on the reform of the armed forces,” Pannika said.

She said the party will continue to push for army reforms despite Lt. Gen. Pongskorn’s gaffe.

Supporters of the party reacted with disappointment to the revelation. Many urged Pongskorn to leave the army residence immediately instead of waiting until the end of March.

“It’s shameful and egregious that Lt.Gen. Pongskorn Rodchompoo who is among the leaders spearheading reform of the armed forces is staying at a government-owned residence for free himself,” Facebook user Chainarin Kularb-um wrote.

Others said Pongskorn’s failure to practice what he preaches should not stop him from speaking out against the army in the future.

“I personally don’t like [retired] generals staying at govt-owned houses, but he has the right to continue to speak about reform of armed forces, because there’s more than one issue to the reform,” wrote Twitter user @Yo_Yo_Class7, a self-identified supporter of the party.