ruling palang pracharat party sacks thammanat prompao 21 other dissident mps 1 - Ruling Palang Pracharat party sacks Thammanat Prompao, 21 other dissident MPs

The ruling Palang Pracharat Party (PPRP) on Wednesday sacked its controversial secretary-general, Thammanat Prompao, and 21 other MPs loyal to him, further threatening the stability of the party formed just a year before the 2019 general elections and the government coaltion.

The shocking decision came after a tense meeting held at the Five Provinces Bordering Forest Preservation Foundation of the party’s executive committee following an ultimatum submitted by Thammanat and his group demanding a ministerial post or they resign en masse. The meeting was chaired by Deputy Prime Minister and PPRP Leader Prawit Wongsuwan.

The group had reportedly demanded the portfolio of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment which is currently held by Varawut Silpa-archa of the Chart Thai Pattana party.

Former deputy labour minister and government spokesperson Narumon Pinyosinwat, who is reportedly close to Thammanat,  did not join the group to quit the party while another MP pulled out of the group in a last-minute move.

The group may join a new party, believed to be led by Gen. Wit Devahastin na Ayudhya, strategic chief of the Palang Pracharat party.

The breakaway of the Thammanat’s group will further weaken the coalition government’s position in the parliament in a way that House meetings may not be possible and the House will be dealt dysfunctional due to lack of quorum compounded by the opposition.

Just earlier today, government chief whip Nirote Sunthornlekha played down reported friction between Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin and Thammanat over a recent Line group chat leak.

On Tuesday, Suchart reportedly admitted that he talked on his Line group of about eight members about his idea to conduct an opinion poll to find out why the popularity of the core government party is fading and whether it has anything to do with Thammanat, a controversial figure who was convicted by an Australian court for drug trafficking in the 1990’s but has helped PPRP win a number of by-elections.

A highly controversial figure, Thammanat was convicted by an Australian court in a drug trafficking case in the 1990’s. He proved to be a valuable asset to the PPRP by helping the party’s candidates win several by-elections and broker mutual understanding between the party and other micro coalition parties.

In September 2021, he and Narumon were sacked from their ministerial positions over internal rifts with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.