Thailand’s novel, Suicide Squad-style answer to its onling gambling problem – inviting a top casino mogul to help fix it – may have already hit a dead end, but that hasn’t stopped it from raising a few eyebrows.
Apirak Chaianun, aka Sia Po (Godfather Po), has already refused the invitation to help suppress the massive online gambling industry since it was announced yesterday by Palang Pracharath MP Arun Sawaddee. Under the proposal, Apirak would have been joined by Lt. Col. Sonthana Prayoonrat, a former deputy special branch superintendent famous for his alleged ties to shadier business realms.
Samat Jenchaijitwanich, vice justice minister and a member of the committee in charge of the issue said the two were chosen for their expertise.
That invited a whole lot of “huh?” from the public, not just for Apirak’s notorious history of posting sex tapes and exposing himself but for being a scofflaw with many brushes with the law, including a recent money laundering case. In addition to owning several online casinos and physical ones in Cambodia and Macau, Apirak is also busy on YouTube, where he delivers lessons on gambling.
It should be noted that all forms of gambling, online and off, are illegal in the kingdom.
“Welcome to Sin City, where bastards can turn into authorities,” @Mlifeisgoal wrote, using the hashtag #SiaPo.
“Is this some kind of sitcom? Is this the real parliament or a parody one?” @Iamjungwoosdog tweeted, referencing a Thai tv show that used to satirize politics.
Apirak responded to the brouhaha last night, saying he’d turned down the offer.
“Don’t be jealous, the government invited me to fix the problem of online gambling to help make money for our country,” he wrote. “They offered me an advisory role, and I refused. I’m a real gangster and a man of my word: I will never get into the world of politics.”
MP Rangsiman Rome of the Move Forward Party, who is also on the gambling committee, said that his understanding was that the committee hadn’t appointed either man, but only invited them to contribute their knowledge.
This article, To catch a thief: Parliament proposes recruiting Thai casino mogul to solve gambling, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!