Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam told reporters on Wednesday that there is no law against appointing a wife of a minister to a political office.
Thanaporn Sriwiraj, the wife of controversial Deputy Agriculture Minister Thammanat Prompow and former Miss Thailand, was appointed as a political officer under the Office of the Prime Minister on Tuesday.
The move has added to fears of cronyism and nepotism within the government. There are already members of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha’s family and family members of key cabinet officials appointed to senate seats.
This includes the prime minister’s younger brother, Preecha Chan-ocha, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan’s younger brother, Sithawat Wongsuwan, and Wissanu’s brother, Chalermchai Krea-ngam.
Wissanu asked reporters “why can’t it be done?” after being questioned about Tuesday’s controversial move. When pressed if the appointment of spouses and family members into government positions was appropriate, Wissanu said it wasn’t illegal.
Thammanat is one of the most controversial ministers within the current cabinet. According to news reports in Australia, the deputy minister was sentenced to jail in Sydney for smuggling drugs into Australia. He was also accused of obtaining a fake doctoral degree in public administration from a degree mill in California.
Several staff members allegedly close to Thammanat were also caught selling face masks to China for profit at the height of the coronavirus pandemic when face mask stocks in the country were low.
According to Isra News Agency, Thanaporn, the wife of a career politician, drives a Porsche among several luxury cars. She also owns dozens of luxury watches and handbags worth millions of dollars.