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Minister says he won't resign over watches comments

Education Minister Teerakiat Jareonsettasin says he will not resign following his comments on Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon’s luxury watches scandal at Government House on Tuesday.

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Education Minister Teerakiat Jareonsettasin says he will not resign following his comments on Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon’s luxury watches scandal.

Dr Teerakiat told reporters on Tuesday he had met Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, as well as Gen Prawit and “cleared the air.”

“I apologised to Gen Prawit for my bad manners. We’ll work smoothly together from now on,” he said.

He added he would continue to help Gen Prayut. "I still have every confidence in him. I'll stay until the prime minister thinks I'm not suitable."  

Last week, Dr Teerakiat was in England where he met Thai students and businessmen on Friday.

He told them that when they finished their studies and returned to Thailand, they should bear in mind that law enforcement and conscience of politicians in the kingdom were much different. Rule of law doesn’t really exist, he said.

He cited as an example Michael Bates, a member of the House of Lords who quit his government post after showing up late to answer questions. Prime Minister Theresa May later rejected his resignation.

“But in Thailand, having 25 watches is okay,” Dr Teerakiat said.

After the 15-minute meeting, the minister told BBC Thai: “There’s no way [this will happen in Thailand]. We are not trained from a young age to be ashamed. It will never happen. Thick-skinned is more like it here. As for the timepieces, if it was me, I would resign from the first watch. People dare not comment. What do they fear? Will they fire me if I say so?”

His comments were widely shared in social media, raising the question whether he would resign or be fired. 

After returning to Bangkok on Tuesday, he went to meet Gen Prayut and Gen Prawit at Government House but did not attend the weekly cabinet meeting in the afternoon.

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