Military denies targeting MP over Prayut house inspection

Military denies targeting MP over Prayut house inspection

Military denies targeting MP over Prayut house inspection
Move Forward MP Jirat Thongsuwan, centre, is in the hot seat over his claimed exemption from military service. (Photo: Jirat Thongsuwan Facebook account)

The armed forces did not target a Move Forward MP over his conscription exemption because he wanted to inspect the army barracks residence where former prime minister Prayut Chan-o-cha continues to live, Defence Minister Sutin Klungsang said on Tuesday.

Mr Sutin denied any link between the two issues.

He said the armed forces were not firing back at Jirat Thongsuwan, a Chachoengsao MP who called for a trip to Gen Prayut’s residence to inspect his style of living since his tenure as prime minister ended.

“The armed forces have no intention to cause him [Jirat] any trouble,” the minister said. “Don’t worry if you have not done anything wrong.”

Mr Jirat is fighting an allegation of evading mandatory conscription. He has claimed he was exempted.  However, Lt Gen Taweepool Rimsakorn, chief of the Territorial Defence Command, said on Monday the army had not been able to find the original Sor Dor 43 document matching the exemption notice Mr Jirat showed reporters to back up his claim.

The military service issue emerged after the Move Forward MP, a member of the House committee on military affairs, last week proposed a visit to the military barracks home of Gen Prayut, where he continues to live despite retiring from the military and from politics and now being a privy councillor.

Gen Prayut’s United Thai Nation Party performed poorly in the general election last year, but still managed to join the current coalition government.

Mr Sutin questioned Mr Jirat’s motive in demanding the inspection. “Everybody is subject to scrutiny. The question is whether it is appropriate,” he said.

Last week Mr Jirat said he did not understand why he was attacked over his call for the house visit, and showed the conscription exemption document on Matichon TV.

Move Forward is battling to clear its image, dented by problems involving its members.

It kicked out Bangkok MP Chaiyamphawan Manpianjit and also Prachi Buri MP Wuttiphong Thonglour in November over sexual harassment claims. In July, Nakhon­chai Khunnarong, a Move Forward MP for Rayong, quit after admitting he was convicted of theft and served one year and six months in prison about two decades ago.