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Labour vice minister quits amid migrant worker kickback row

BANGKOK: Gen Charoen Nopsuwan has stepped down as the labour vice minister following allegations of kickbacks paid to labour officials in the registration of migrant workers, an issue thought to be behind Section 44 being invoked to remove the chief of the Employment Department.

By Bangkok Post

Thursday 2 November 2017, 08:35AM

Gen Charoen Nopsuwan resigned yesterday (Nov 1) as deputy labour minister ‘effective immediately’. Photo: Gen-Charoen-Nopsuwan / Facebook

Gen Charoen Nopsuwan resigned yesterday (Nov 1) as deputy labour minister ‘effective immediately’. Photo: Gen-Charoen-Nopsuwan / Facebook

Gen Charoen tendered his resignation letter to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. Copies of the letter dated yesterday (Nov 1) were distributed to officials at the Labour Ministry.

Meanwhile, rumours were also circulating that Labour Minister Gen Sirichai Distakul has resigned.

Gen Prayut countered that he had seen no such letter from Gen Sirichai.

A government source said rumours have circulated for some time that the prime minister is not happy with Gen Sirichai’s performance as labour minister.

When asked if a cabinet reshuffle was on the cards, the premier dismissed this as groundless speculation.

A source at the Labour Ministry said Gen Charoen, who served as vice minister for two years and two months, was considered the right-hand man and a long-time ally of Gen Sirichai, who is a former defence permanent secretary with close ties to Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon.

Apart from Gen Charoen, Arak Prommanee, who is Gen Sirichai’s adviser, and Gen Thanit Pipitwanichakarn, Gen Sirichai’s secretary, have also reportedly quit their posts.

Before copies of Gen Charoen’s resignation letter were made public, Gen Prayut reportedly ordered Gen Sirichai to join him for an unscheduled meeting at Government House yesterday afternoon.

The meeting came immediately after Gen Prayut signed an order employing the all-powerful Section 44 of the charter to remove Varanon Peetiwan as director-general of the Employment Department.

He has been ordered to swap posts with labour deputy permanent secretary Anurak Tossarat.

Mr Varanon said has not been involved in any bribery and had no idea why he was given the axe.

“:I don’t know why [removing me] had to be done in such a rush,” he said.

On Tuesday (Oct 31), an immigration deputy chief inspector based in Ranong was arrested for accepting a bribe in exchange for speeding up work to verify the nationality of a migrant worker from Myanmar.

A source close to the matter said Gen Prayut convened a meeting earlier specifically to tackle issues relating to kickbacks being pocketed by officials dealing with the registration of migrant workers.

The prime minister instructed police and labour officials to work together to stamp out the problem, but officials said it has persisted.

On Sept 26, Gen Prayut said he had asked the Labour Ministry and other agencies to look into complaints that officials were taking bribes to allow migrant workers to jump long queues during the registration process.

Read original story here.



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