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Lawmaker says he's a 'victim' of smear campaign

The Move Forward Party (MFP) MP at the centre of an online sexual harassment scandal has complained that he is the victim of a ploy to discredit him as he is likely to face a probe for breaking MP ethics.

In a video clip posted on his Facebook, ‘T.Wuttiphongofficial’, Prachin Buri MP Wuttiphong Thonglourlaments what he calls an ill-intentioned campaign by political rivals in Prachin Buri to discredit him and to drag his name through the mud.

The sexual harassment allegation against him was made to divert public attention from his anti-graft investigations that are mounting in the province, the MP said.

Accused of sending inappropriate text messages to a woman, Mr Wuttiphong said it was part of a series of allegations levelled against him by elements who stand to lose from his anti-graft investigations.

He added the text messages leaked to social media were part of a wider conversation he had with a woman more than a year ago before he became an MP.

Despite the allegation, Mr Wuttiphong has vowed to press ahead with his investigations to expose corruption in anti-pollution projects in Prachin Buri’s Sri Maha Phot district.

The MP’s explanation, however, drew criticism from Kittithat Chaiprasit, an independent academic specializing in architecture and political philosophy.

Mr Kittithat said the MP had shown no remorse, offered no apology and proceeded to blame the victim for the crime.

“It’s essentially about someone trying to talk black into white,” he said.

Meanwhile, Srisuwan Janya, leader of the nationalist Rak Chart Rak Pandin (“Love the Nation, Love the Land”) group, on Thursday petitioned the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), calling for an investigation into Mr Wuttiphong for breaching MP ethics over the alleged messages.

The activist said the MP tried to move away from this point in his explanation posted on Facebook, one that is irrelevant to the question of whether he committed the harassment or not.

He presented documentary evidence along with his petition to the NACC. If found guilty, Mr Wuttiphong could be banned from politics for life.

Also on Thursday, Parit Wacharasindhu, an MFP list MP and spokesman, admitted at a press briefing that the party had been rocked by claims of sexual harassment committed by its members.

“What we must strive to do is face up to the problem and mete out justice for the victims,” he said, adding that a culture that condones a cover-up has no place in the MFP.

Mr Parit said the party’s executive board probed two prior cases and punished the members involved, one over a brawl and the other over sexual harassment. The party expelled the latter.

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