Chuwit Kamolvisit

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Chuwit Kamolvisit
ชูควย กมลวิศิษฎ์
Chuwit Kamolvisit 2010-5-20.jpg
Chuwit (right) inspected the ruins of CentralWorld on 20 May 2010 after the massive fire caused by the Red Shirts anti-government protesters.
Leader of Rak Thailand Party
Incumbent
Assumed office
February 18, 2010
Personal details
Born (1960-08-29) August 29, 1960 (age 53)
Bangkok, Thailand
Political party Rak Thailand Party
Religion พุทธ

Chuwit Kamolvisit (Thai: ชูวิทย์ กมลวิศิษฎ์; RTGS: Chuwit Kamonwisit; August 29, 1961 – ) is a controversial Thai politician who was once the country's biggest massage parlor owner. After an arrest in 2003, he went public with his claims of having paid large bribes to hundreds of police officers. He then sold some of his massage parlors, formed his own political party and unsuccessfully ran for Bangkok governor in August 2004. In 2005 he was elected for a four-year term to the Thai House of Representatives, but in 2006 the Constitutional Court removed him from parliament. In October 2008 he again ran for governor of Bangkok as an independent but was not elected. In the July 2011 general election his party won four seats in the House of Representatives.

Life and family[edit]

Chuwit is the son of a Hong Kong-born Chinese father and a Thai mother. He has sometimes used the pseudonym Davis Kamol. He graduated from the Faculty of Commerce and Accountancy at Thammasat University, and then earned a Master of Business Administration degree in San Diego, California.

He is divorced from his American wife, who lives in the United States with their two children.[1] His daughter, Trakarnta Kamolvisit or Tah, is a net idol and is attending senior high school at Millfield.[2]

Business and allegations[edit]

Chuwit controls the Davis Group, which owned six luxurious massage parlours near Bangkok's Ratchadaphisek Road: Copacabana, Victoria's Secret, Honolulu, Hi Class, Emmanuelle and Julianna, employing around 600 women. The Davis Group's holdings also include the Davis Hotel and shopping mall on Sukhumvit Soi 24. Annual revenues have been estimated at about 1 billion baht.

These massage parlors cater mainly to wealthy Thais and operate in a grey area of the law; massage parlors are legal, but prostitution is not. Inside the parlors, some masseuses sit behind a glass window; others wait in a lounge or may be viewed via closed-circuit TV. Once a customer has chosen a masseuse, the couple retire to a room, where he is bathed and the masseuse performs a foam massage using her naked body. This is generally followed by sexual relations.[3] Prices are from 2,000 to 5,000 baht for a two-hour session. Chuwit once claimed in an interview that he was ignorant about what happens in the rooms; however, he has since admitted that prostitution does take place in his parlors.

In January 2003, Chuwit was accused of having hired some 600 men to raze several bars, shops, a laundry and a travel agency on "Sukhumvit Square", a plot of land he owns at Sukhumvit Soi 10. This was an apparent attempt to remove the low rent tenants so the land could be developed. The tenants had been led to believe they had valid leases from another company and were not notified of the raid, which took place very early on a Sunday morning. Chuwit was arrested and spent a month in jail. He denied responsibility and was finally released on bail.

Angry that police dared to arrest him, he publicly released the amounts of bribes he had regularly paid in the past, along with names of the high ranking police recipients. He put the total amount of bribes at 200 million baht over 10 years, but has since suggested it was closer to 12 million baht. He also claimed that "VIP" policemen received free service in his parlors, an allegation that was later confirmed by interviewing some of the masseuses.[3] Following an investigation, several prominent policemen were suspended or demoted. Chuwit also accused his prison wardens of having accepted bribes from him.

Shortly after his revelations, Chuwit disappeared for two days. He claimed he had been abducted and abused by police; however, others believe he had staged his own disappearance.

In reprisal, Chuwit's massage parlors were raided and some of his bank accounts frozen. He was also charged with procuring minors for prostitution because three masseues under the age of 18 were found working in one of his parlors. He was acquitted in June 2004, as the court found the girls had used forged ID cards and Chuwit could not be held responsible. The same month, Chuwit sold three of his parlors, saying that police harassment had made operations difficult for him.

The Nation, an English language Thai newspaper, chose Chuwit, along with Pornthip Rojanasunand and Chote Wattanachet, as persons of the year for 2003.

In a February 2004 interview, Chuwit claimed that he had paid Thai policemen to clear his Sukhumvit Soi 10 property. When the issue became public, the police had allegedly demanded more money, which he refused to pay. They turned against him, and he revealed his bribe payments in response.[3]

In July 2006, after a three-year trial, Chuwit and 130 associates were acquitted of the charge of razing the bar area; however, a corporate lawyer was sentenced to 8 months in prison for having paid members of the Army Corps Of Engineers to destroy the businesses.[4] Chuwit converted the area on Sukhumvit Soi 10 into a public park named Chuwit Park or Chuvit Garden for about 100 million baht.[5]

Political career[edit]

Chuwit Kamolvisit on a poster for the Bangkok Governor Election 2008

In September 2003, Chuwit formed his own political party, called First Thai Nation. In April 2004 he announced that he was running for governor of Bangkok. He planned to spend about 20 million Baht on his campaign, with corruption in the police and government as his main campaign topic. The Bangkok governor elections were held on August 29, 2004. Chuwit placed third, with some 300,000 votes, or about 16% of the vote.

For the 2005 legislative elections, Chuwit merged his party with the conservative Chart Thai Party. He ran successfully as a party list candidate, becoming a member of parliament in this way.

In May 2005 he began hosting a weekly call-in radio show, during which he listened to complaints from the public.

In January 2006, however, the Constitutional Court revoked his MP status. A candidate must be a member of a political party for at least 90 days before the general election and the court found that Chuwit had not joined Chart Thai in time.[6]

In 2008, he again declared his candidacy for the Governorship of Bangkok. As was the case in 2004, he placed third. He admitted that his campaign may have suffered when he beat up a journalist who supposedly described him as "unmanly".[7]

In May 2011 Chuwit formed a new political party, "Love Thailand" (Rak Prathetthai).[8] In the 2011 Thai general election, the party won four seats in the House of Representatives. He had campaigned as a protest candidate and anti-corruption watchdog.[9]

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