Foreign minister keeps job, for now

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam, the ranking legal expert in the cabinet, says there is no reason for Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai (inset) to step down over an anti-corruption regulation - yet. (Bangkok Post file photo)

Minister of Foreign Affairs Don Pramudwinai will not yet have to give up his post despite the ongoing controversy surrounding his wife's shareholdings.

However, if the court disqualifies Mr Don, he will lose his ministerial position and will not be able to return to the cabinet for two years, according to the constitution, Mr Wissanu added.

Election Commission (EC) member, Boonsong Noisophon, said the official ruling of the EC will be submitted to the Constitutional Court next week.

The issue was raised by Ruangkrai Leekitwattana, a legal adviser to the Pheu Thai Party, who filed a petition last year demanding an investigation into the shareholdings of nine cabinet ministers. The EC looked into the cases and cleared eight of the ministers.

According to reports, the EC voted 3:2 against clearing Mr Don after learning that his wife had not disclosed her 5% share in a private company. Section 187 of the 2017 charter prohibits a minister or his spouse from holding shares.

If a cabinet minister, or spouse, wants to continue receiving benefits from the stockholding, he must inform the NACC president within 30 days of starting in the job.

However, Mr Don took up his post before the promulgation of the current charter.

These stockholdings are shares that his wife inherited from her father 37 years ago. They are unlisted on the Stock Exchange of Thailand and stockholders consist of 6-7 relatives of his wife, the statement said.

"I am not [reshuffling the cabinet]. If he [a minister] can stay, then stay. If he can't, then go," he said before adding that he hasn't thought about shuffling anybody.

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