Thai coup leader a millionaire

Monsters & Critics

Bangkok – General Sonthi Booonyaratkalin, the man who overthrew Thailand’s billionaire prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra last year on corruption charges, is no pauper himself, a media report said Tuesday.  

According to the National Counter Corruption Commission (NCCC) Sonthi, his two wives and underage daughter have a net worth of 95 million baht (2.8 million dollars), the Bangkok Post online news service reported.

Sonthi, Thailand’s first Muslim army commander-in-chief, has declared assets worth 38.79 million baht while his first wife Sukalaya has assets of 14.04 million baht, his second wife Piyada has assets of 42.07 million baht and their daughter has 300,000 baht, the NCCC disclosed.

Thailand outlawed polygamy several decades ago, but many common-law unions go unregistered. It was unclear why Sonthi registered the assets of both women in his declaration.

Sonthi was obligated to disclose his family’s personal assets to the NCCC upon taking up his current government post as deputy prime minister last month. When still army chief, Sonthi led a coup d’etat on September 19, 2006, to topple former premier Thaksin on charges of mass corruption and dividing the nation.  

Despite their meagre salaries, many of Thailand’s generals are millionaires, a phenomenon that can sometimes be explained by the top military’s propensity to marry into wealth, if they don’t stumble into it by other means.  

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