RAYONG (NNT) – Nakhonchai Khunnarong, the Member of Parliament (MP) representing Rayong’s Constituency 3, has decided to step down from his position following an ongoing dispute over his past criminal record. The Rayong election committee, in response to reports about Nakhonchai’s previous incarceration for theft 24 years ago, took the matter to the Election Commission and requested his disqualification.
Addressing the mounting concerns on his official Facebook page, Nakhonchai expressed his willingness to take responsibility for the situation by resigning from his position. He stated that his resignation would take effect the following week, indicating his intention to cooperate with the election committee’s investigation.
The Rayong election committee delved into the matter and confirmed that Nakhonchai had indeed served a one-year-and-six-month jail sentence back in 1999 for the theft case. On this basis, they sought a decision from the Election Commission to revoke his MP status, which could lead to his disqualification if the commission concurs.
In his defense, Nakhonchai argued on social media that his past crime should not automatically disqualify him from participating in elections as per the Constitution. He asserted that since his release from jail, he had lived an honest life and firmly believed that the nature of his previous offense did not fall under the category of crimes that would bar him from running for office.
The controversy escalated when the leader of the Seree Ruam Thai Party, Seripisuth Temeeyaves, publicly questioned Nakhonchai’s eligibility to hold a seat in the House. Responding to the concerns, Nakhonchai clarified on his Facebook page that he had been deceived into confessing to the crime by the police back in October 1999, indicating a potential miscarriage of justice.
Despite Nakhonchai’s forthcoming resignation, the Rayong election chief, Jaiphet Sakhonpanich, remained firm on pursuing criminal action against him under Article 151 of the election act. This article addresses cases where individuals knowingly contest elections despite being aware of their disqualification. If found guilty, Nakhonchai could face a jail term ranging from one to ten years and a fine ranging from 20,000 to 200,000 baht.
The situation continues to draw attention and debate among the public and political circles as the Rayong election committee awaits the decision of the Election Commission on Nakhonchai’s disqualification. Meanwhile, the MP’s resignation has opened up discussions about the importance of transparency and accountability in the political realm.