Rayong’s Constituency 3 Member of Parliament (MP), Nakhonchai Khunnarong, announced his resignation after the Rayong election committee requested the Election Commission to disqualify him. The committee’s move came in light of reports stating that Nakhonchai had a criminal past, having been jailed in a theft case 24 years ago.
In response to the mounting controversy, Nakhonchai took to his Facebook page to express his willingness to take responsibility for the situation by stepping down. He clarified that his resignation would become effective the following week.
The Rayong election committee, upon investigation, verified that Nakhonchai had indeed served a one-year-and-six-month jail sentence in 1999 for the theft case. Consequently, they sought a decision from the Election Commission to revoke his MP status, a move that could lead to his disqualification if the election commissioners concur.
Nakhonchai defended himself in his Facebook post, asserting that the crime he committed in the past should not disqualify him from contesting elections under the Constitution. He stated that he had been living an honest life since his release from jail, and he was confident that his previous jail term did not fall under the category of crimes that would bar him from running for office.
The controversy escalated when Seree Ruam Thai Party leader, Seripisuth Temeeyaves, publicly questioned Nakhonchai’s eligibility to hold a House seat.
Nakhonchai’s explanation, however, did not deter the Rayong election chief, Jaiphet Sakhonpanich, who confirmed that despite the forthcoming resignation, criminal action would be pursued against Nakhonchai under Article 151 of the election act. This article deals with contesting elections despite being aware of one’s disqualification. If found guilty, Nakhonchai could face a jail term of one to ten years and a fine ranging from 20,000 to 200,000 baht. (NNT)