Minister Apologises Over Remarks Critical Of Luxury Watch Affair

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BANGKOK – Watch your tongue, minister!

The Thai education minister had to issue an apology after he was caught being highly critical of the luxury watch affair involving Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan.

Teerakiat Jareonsettasin who made the controversial remarks during a recent interview with BBC Thai while in London, said he had apologised to the deputy prime minister and at the same time, decided to stay on at his job, despite earlier speculation he would resign from the cabinet.

“I admit to (making) the comments (about Prawit), I think it was inappropriate that I mentioned (the comments) about a colleague in the cabinet or the deputy prime minister. So, I have apologised to him,” he told the media in the Government House today.

Earlier, he met Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha and Prawit.

The deputy prime minister had come under intense pressure from the public who were calling for his immediate resignation after he was caught wearing several luxury watches during official functions.

Prawit had vowed to resign from office if a probe launched by the National Anti-Corruption Commission into his luxury watches found him guilty.

Teerakiat, who returned home from London yesterday but missed the cabinet meeting today, said the deputy prime minister smiled and nodded when he apologised over his outburst while Prayut enquired about the issue.

In the interview which was published yesterday, the education minister dropped a controversial remark on the luxury watch scandal, but stopped short of directly mentioning the deputy prime minister’s name.

“On the (luxury) watches, if it was me who was exposed, I would have quit after the first watch,” he was quoted as saying in the interview, which also provided an audio clip of the remarks.

Meanwhile, the prime minister who met the media after the meeting said the unity of his cabinet was intact and expressed confidence the latest issue surrounding Teerakiat’s comments would not endanger the government.

“The cabinet has not cracked, everyone loves and understands one another and gives moral support…if someone does something wrong, then apologise and it’s done and over with,” he said. – BERNAMA