Thai cabinet’s convicted heroin smuggler’s doctorate exposed as fake

Thamanat Prompow displays what he claims is a real doctoral degree. Photo: Thapanee Eadsrichai / Facebook
Thamanat Prompow displays what he claims is a real doctoral degree. Photo: Thapanee Eadsrichai / Facebook

Some time after Thammanat Prompao was released from an Australian prison two decades ago for smuggling heroin, he earned a doctorate on his way to joining Thailand’s cabinet this year.

Only now it seems that instead of hard work and academic achievement, he obtained his “doctorate” with money. From the online CSI LA community, the same sharp-eyed observers who picked up on the ultraluxury watches favored by a deputy prime minister last year, comes news that Thammanat’s PhD came from a bogus diploma mill.

Thammanat displayed his credentials earlier this week, claiming he had studied in the United States.

Court records of Thai minister’s drug trafficking conviction emerge

His dissertation’s title, a mouthful of empty-word salad – The Forms of the Local Performance Development and Promotion With Image and Identity in Order to Increase the Value Added and Value Creation: A Case Study of Phayao Province – says it was presented to a “California University FCE” and “Calamus International University.”

After CSI LA raised the issue, it noted that Thammanat’s entry in a government database listing such credentials was changed. Calamas was removed and replaced with California University.

Neither seems to be an accredited institution, and that’s putting it mildly. Seriously, just look at this website. Respected Channel 3 reporter Thapanee Eadsrichai noted online that his transcripts identify Calamas as being in Vanuatu, a micronation in the South Pacific best known today for hiding rich people’s money and jailing Australia’s unwanted immigrants.

The prime minister continues to stand by Thammanat, who’s described as a valuable ally to his ruling government.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha shrugged off news that Thammanat had confessed to smuggling a large quantity of heroin into Sydney from Thailand in 1993; a crime landed him behind bars four years there. Thammanat’s story keeps changing to everything but the actual version of events detailed at length in Australian court records, excerpts of which were published Thursday.

The constitution says a convicted drug smuggler can’t sit on the cabinet, but that’s the same constitution that says Prayuth had to swear an oath to defending to hold office – an oath he declined to make.

The cumulative effect of these episodes make further mockery of the rule of law, and any expectations of accountability seem void at this point, at least when it comes to those in power.

The prime minister won’t take his oath of office and defends a convicted drug smuggler sitting on his cabinet.

Meanwhile opponents such as Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit are barred from the halls of power on the most specious of grounds. In Thanathorn’s case, it was because the opposition leader once owned shares in a company that printed Nok Air in-flight magazines.

CSI LA says this shabby structure in Los Angeles is the home of the “California University.”


Thai gov’t seems pretty cool with convicted heroin smuggler in cabinet

Subscribe to The Coconuts Podcast for top trending news and pop culture from Southeast Asia and Hong Kong every Friday!

Reader Interactions

Leave A Reply


Support local news and join a community of like-minded
“Coconauts” across Southeast Asia and Hong Kong.

Join Now
Coconuts TV
Our latest and greatest original videos
Subscribe on