Was a well-known TV anchorwoman part of Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan’s entourage of 38 on his controversial trip to Hawaii that racked up a THB21 million bill for the flight alone?
Anchorwoman Chonratsamee Ngathaweesuk, who reads the news for Military-run Channel 5 News, has said she wasn’t on the trip to meet with U.S. military officials.
Chonratsamee, a major in the Army, seems to have appeared on the passenger list for the chartered flight to Hawaii on Thai Airways, which has come under fire for its high cost. The passenger list that appeared online has not been confirmed but was widely circulated by the Facebook group “Stop Fake Thailand.”
Critics of the military regime are demanding that the government explain the high cost of the trip and reveal the names of the passengers that went to Hawaii.
Chonratsamee has denied that she flew to Hawaii with the group from Thursday and Sunday. She has claimed that she was working in Thailand at the time.
“On Friday, I was in Bangkok and [doing a] live broadcast on Channel 5’s news program. I had not gone abroad. And on Saturday, I was at my garden home in Nakhon Nayok province,” she said on her TV program yesterday.
Though, according to a source, there were two Channel 5 journalists in the group of 38 passengers. Military-news editor Mueanfun Kongsri and Jakkapong Paengkamsaen, a photographer, were likely on board.
For their part, an official at Channel 5, Col. Thanatip Sawangsang, and news director Col. Jirasak Iamsomboon, made official charges with the Technology Crime Suppression Division against the Facebook group that shared the passenger list. They have said that the Facebook group claims that Channel 5 is trying to cover up that Chonratsamee went on the trip that netizens are calling “lavish.”
In their own defense, Channel 5 has shown a schedule that shows the anchorwoman as doing a live broadcast while the rest on the group would have been in Hawaii, reported The Nation.
Earlier, Prawit said he would release the names of all of his passengers but, later, the Defense Ministry announced that the list would not be made public and shared only with those investigating the case.