In the serene suburbs of Pathum Thani, a drama unlike any other unfolded as activist Srisuwan Janya found himself in handcuffs, the echoing click of the arrest reverberating across the tight-knit community on a quiet Friday (Photo captured by Pongpat Wongyala). Yet, this is not a simple tale of crime and punishment; it’s the story of a storm that’s been brewing in the hallowed halls of the Rice Department (RD).
The RD’s very own director-general, Natthakit Khongthip, is no mere bureaucrat but a man caught in a web spun by an alleged extortionist. His wife, Thanyarat Chaisirikunakorn, at 49, stands by her man with the ferocity of a lioness protecting her pride. To the press, she painted a picture of a family backed into a corner with the walls closing in.
Imagine, if you will, the RD, an institution embodying the essence of Thailand’s staple, under a relentless siege by a group helmed by none other than Srisuwan Janya. With each project under the RD’s safeguard, the group would rain down accusations of corruption like an unending monsoon.
“We felt it wasn’t fair that we were being treated this way,” Thanyarat remarked, her voice a mix of defiance and exasperation. It seems their tormentors came with an offer straight out of a noir film—money in exchange for peace, transactions cloaked in whispers, and the prospect of tarnished reputations hanging in the air like a dense fog.
And who else was entangled in this intricate plot? None other than United Thai Nation (UTN) Party’s own Yoswaris “Jeng Dokjik” Chuklom, alongside UTN’s star-crossed former MP candidate Phimnattha Chiraphutthiphak. According to Thanyarat, these two approached her, dealing in shadows and pressures, hinting at a simple solution—just pay up, or watch her husband’s name be dragged through the mud for years.
The promise was a fearsome one: two, maybe three, years of battling ghostly allegations in the courts, with Natthakit’s reputation hanging by a thread. Thanyarat’s conclusion? This extortion scheme was a team effort.
Pol Maj Gen Jaroonkiat Pankaew, deputy commissioner of the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB), seems to agree. He laid out the blueprint of the alleged extortion—a petitioner, a middleman, a custodian of proxy bank accounts, and a courier who’d pick up the money from their unwilling benefactor. It’s a setup that could have been dreamed up for a heist movie.
The sum? A whopping 3 million baht initially, then graciously reduced to 1.5 million baht after what one can only assume were tense negotiations. But Srisuwan, along with his supposed accomplices Yoswaris and Phimnattha, find themselves staunchly denying these claims as they ready their written defenses.
An uncover operation had Srisuwan in its net as 500,000 baht was hand-delivered by undercover police to his home, a scene straight out of a crime drama. Meanwhile, a source from the Anti-Corruption Division hinted at an audio clip—incriminating evidence of Yoswaris admitting to offering a slice of this dirty pie to a high-ranking official.
But the plot thickens, as digits dance on screens in Line chats between Thanyarat and Phimnattha, leaving us to wonder about the twists and turns still hidden within the shadows. This tale, dear readers, is far from over. The whispers of the RD, the clatter of handcuffs, and the silent exchange of glances in courtrooms will continue to tell a story of a family, an institution, and the hefty price of fighting for your name in the Land of Smiles.