Impeachment process for ex-FM Surapong set

Anti-corruption watchdogs say the decision by former foreign minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul to restore Thaksin Shinawatra's passports was a serious violation of Section 157 of the Criminal Code. (Photo by Taweechai Tawatpakorn)

The National Legislative Assembly (NLA) will begin impeachment proceedings on March 9 against former foreign minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul for reissuing cancelled passports to fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) earlier unanimously recommended impeachment and sent its request to NLA president Pornpetch Wichitcholchai, assembly vice-president Surachai Liangboonlertchai said on Friday.

The NACC contends that Mr Surapong seriously violated Section 157 of the Criminal Code for malfeasance, the NACC law and the code of conduct for political officials.

NLA regulations require lawmakers to convene a meeting on the issue within 30 days of receiving the request, so the deadline would fall on March 16. Mr Pornpetch scheduled the first hearing for March 9. On that day, the NACC and Mr Surapong will deliver their opening statements.

Thaksin's passports were first revoked after the 2006 coup that overthrew his government. During the subsequent government of his younger sister Yingluck Shinawatra, the Foreign Ministry reissued the passports in 2011. The Democrat Party petitioned the NACC, asking for the impeachment of Mr Surapong, the foreign minister at the time.

Earlier Mr Surapong said he was not responsible for the restoration of the passports as authority rested with the permanent secretary for foreign affairs. He also said that he never ordered officials to return passports or interfered with their work.

The Foreign Ministry revoked Thaksin’s passports in 2015, following a media interview he gave in Seoul, in which he claimed privy councillors supported the 2014 coup that toppled his sister's administration.

Thaksin has lived in self-imposed exile since fleeing the country in 2008 just before the Supreme Court sentenced him to two years in jail. He had been convicted of illegally helping his then-wife Khunying Potjaman na Pombejra buy state land in Bangkok’s Ratchadaphisek area in 2003.

Back to top