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Thailand's culture of impunity for the powerful causes backlash

A retired general's taste for expensive watches and bling stirs open public criticism

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, right, leaves Government House with Prawit Wongsuwan, his embattled deputy with expensive tastes in watches and jewelry.   © Reuters

BANGKOK -- With its political future in the balance, Thailand's military government is digging in to protect one of its key figures, Prawit Wongsuwan, the deputy prime minister and defense minister who is among three prominent figures who have openly flouted laws. Public opinion is against them, but it remains to be seen if they will be held accountable for their actions.

The junta's portly second in command landed himself in hot water after evidently failing to declare among his assets a collection of 25 premium wrist watches worth some $1 million. Prawit's expensive tastes were exposed in December by an observant Thai Facebook user.

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