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Samsenwittayalai School Scandal: Viroj Samluan’s 20-Year Sentence in Historic Bribery Case

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Imagine stepping into the hallowed halls of Samsenwittayalai School, a place where the future of young minds is shaped, and finding yourself caught in the midst of a scandal that reads like a nail-biting thriller. This is the tale of Viroj Samluan, the erstwhile director of this storied institution, and his deputy, Phusit Prayoonanuthep, who found themselves entangled in a controversy that would shake the very foundations of educational ethics in 2017.

In a stunning twist of fate, both the director and his right-hand man were handed a severe verdict that would see them behind bars for two decades. Yes, you read that right – 20 long years. The gavel came down hard on Thursday, with the Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases not just sentencing them but also mandating a hefty forfeiture of 700,000 baht.

But what led to such harsh punishments? Cue the “tea money.” This was not your everyday school fund collection but a covert operation where six parents parted with significant sums, believing it would secure their children’s enrolment in the prestigious school. The plot thickens as we learn that Viroj Samluan was not just any director; he was a man who, according to reports, had his hands dipped in various bribery cases totaling a staggering 8 million baht.

The court found that from January to June 2017, Viroj and Phusit, with the help of an educator named Prajern Chotphongsakul, masterminded a scheme that involved taking bribes and manipulating the school’s financial records. However, in a turn of events that would rival any courtroom drama, charges against Prajern were dropped due to a lack of evidence.

In a defense that seemed almost as thin as the school’s old receipt paper, Viroj and Phusit claimed the money was funneled to the Student Recruitment Network Committee, an entity set up by Phusit. This, however, didn’t hold water with the authorities as the committee’s operation blatantly disregarded established protocols by the Office of the Basic Education Commission and financial regulations.

The audacity of the duo didn’t stop at bribery. They were also found to have embezzled school donations, with the money hidden away in a safe in Phusit’s office instead of the school’s central safe – a classic case of “out of sight, out of mind.” The laws are clear: only a modest sum of 30,000 baht can be kept on school premises, and yet, these rules were flouted with reckless abandon.

The attempt to backdate receipts to cover their tracks was the final nail in the coffin for Viroj and Phusit’s defense. As they await the outcome of their appeal, confined to the Bangkok Remand Prison, one can’t help but ponder the irony. A place of learning, meant to instil principles and ethics in the leaders of tomorrow, became the backdrop for a tale of greed, deception, and a fall from grace.

This “tea money” scandal has not only brewed concern but also served as a stark reminder of the vigilance required to preserve the sanctity of educational institutions. As the dust settles, the echoes of this scandal will linger, reminding us that the price of integrity is eternal vigilance.

And so, we are left to reflect on this saga of ambition, corruption, and eventual downfall, a story that although unique to Samsenwittayalai School, carries with it lessons of universal significance. May this serve as a cautionary tale for educational institutions worldwide, as they navigate the thin line between tradition and malpractice.


  1. EduWatcher April 25, 2024

    It’s appalling to see such corruption at the highest levels of our education system. This goes beyond ‘tea money’; it’s a wake-up call for systemic change. Education should be about merit, not who can pay the most under the table.

    • RealistMom123 April 25, 2024

      I agree it’s terrible, but let’s be frank – this isn’t new. It’s just the first time someone got caught. The entire system needs a revamp, starting with transparency and accountability.

      • EduWatcher April 25, 2024

        Exactly, RealistMom123. The fact that it’s not new is what’s so frustrating. Every child deserves a fair chance at education, and the system should protect and promote that, not undermine it.

    • SkepticalJoe April 25, 2024

      Are we really surprised? Corruption is everywhere, not just in schools. Fixing education is just scratching the surface. The whole government needs a cleanup.

  2. TeacherTom April 25, 2024

    20 years seems harsh. Yes, they did wrong, but this sentence could destroy their lives and their families. Isn’t there a better way to remedy the situation and prevent future occurrences?

    • JusticeServed April 25, 2024

      Harsh? They tampered with the future of children for personal gain. The sentence is a statement – such greed and lack of ethics should have no place in education or any sector for that matter.

    • CompassionateView April 25, 2024

      While I understand the anger, TeacherTom has a point. Longer sentences aren’t always the solution. Perhaps focusing on rehabilitation and stricter supervision of educational finances could be more effective.

  3. ParentalGuilt April 25, 2024

    What about the parents who paid the ‘tea money’? Are they not to be held accountable as well? It takes two to tango. They knew what they were doing was wrong but proceeded anyway.

  4. Reform_4_Ed April 25, 2024

    It’s time to overhaul the entire education admission process. Implement digital and transparent systems to track admissions and donations. Technology could be the key to preventing such scandals.

  5. CyberSleuth April 25, 2024

    Did anyone else notice the involvement (or lack thereof) of Prajern Chotphongsakul? Charges dropped due to lack of evidence doesn’t mean innocence. Perhaps there’s more to uncover here.

    • ConspiracyKev April 25, 2024

      Absolutely! The fact that charges were dropped so quickly makes you wonder who else might be involved and how deep this goes. Maybe he was the scapegoat, or there’s a bigger fish they’re trying to catch.

  6. TeacherWithOpinion April 25, 2024

    Stories like these demoralize the entire teaching profession. Most of us work hard and honestly for our students’ futures. It’s a shame a few bad apples can tarnish the reputation of many.

    • DisillusionedDon April 25, 2024

      True, but how do we ensure these ‘bad apples’ don’t spoil the bunch? There needs to be a more rigorous selection and monitoring process for school administrators.

      • TeacherWithOpinion April 25, 2024

        I couldn’t agree more. Rigorous checks, balances, and perhaps even regular audits of school finances are crucial. More importantly, we need a cultural shift that prioritizes integrity over achievement.

  7. PolicyNerd April 25, 2024

    This scandal could actually spark positive change. If it leads to stricter laws and enforcement against bribery in education, perhaps we’ll see a cleaner, more equitable system emerge.

  8. SimpleSimon April 25, 2024

    I just can’t grasp how someone can steal from kids and sleep at night. Those 20 years will be time to ponder over their greed. Hope they reform for the better.

  9. TheAnalyst April 25, 2024

    Let’s not forget the role of societal pressure in this mess. The extreme competition for prestige schools pushes parents to desperate measures. It’s a sad state of things when education becomes a commodity.

  10. GuardianOfEthics April 25, 2024

    At the core of this scandal is a failure in moral leadership. Our schools need leaders who reflect the values we want to instill in students, not those who exploit their positions for personal gain.

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