Potjaman verdict a blow to PPP

MONGKOL BANGPRAPA & THANIDA TAN

The conviction of deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra's wife Khunying Potjaman, who was sentenced to three years in jail for evading tax, will have negative repercussions for the ruling People Power party (PPP), said a leading member of a northeastern faction of the PPP.

Somsak Kiatsuranont, a core member of the PPP's Isan Pattana (Northeast Development) faction, admitted that yesterday's ruling by the Criminal Court in the tax evasion case against Khunying Potjaman would have a negative impact on the party. He said the issue was sensitive, but refused to elaborate.

The court yesterday found Khunying Potjaman, her stepbrother Bannapot Damapong and her secretary Karnchanapa Honghern guilty of colluding to evade tax.

The upcoming cabinet reshuffle has also caused a rift in Mr Somsak's faction.

Mr Somsak, who is tipped to be the new social development and human security minister, was upset by accusations from faction members that he lobbied for a cabinet seat.

Several faction members wanted Preecha Rengsomboonsuk, an MP for Loei, to represent them in the cabinet. They slammed Mr Somsak, who earlier promised the faction that Mr Preecha, a nine-time MP, would be nominated for a cabinet post, for betraying the faction.

Mr Somsak, who resigned as a deputy House speaker on Tuesday, insisted he never lobbied for a cabinet seat.

He said there was no reason for him to step back and give the cabinet post to Mr Preecha's group.

He admitted there was a widening rift in the faction due to different political ideologies.

Foreign Minister Tej Bunnag said yesterday his adviser Manaspas Xuto could be on duty on behalf of the deputy foreign minister and denied he has asked for a deputy post from Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej.

Bangkok Post