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Thursday, 29 August, 2002, 17:42 GMT 18:42 UK
Thai PM's son in cheating row
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra
Panthongtae is the only son of the Thai prime minister
The son of Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has been accused of cheating in a university examination and faces disciplinary action, officials said.

Panthongtae Shinawatra, a political science student at Bangkok's Ramkhamhaeng University, was caught with study notes hidden in his pockets, according to examiner Wiwatchai Kulamat.


Panthongtae was found with a copy of some notes in his pocket. In this kind of incident, if students are found guilty of intending to cheat, they will be punished

Professor Vichot Wanno
If it is proven that he was using the notes to cheat Panthongtae could be banned from his studies for a year.

Panthongtae is the only son of Mr Thaksin, a successful tycoon and the founder of Shin Corporation, the country's biggest telecommunications company.

The political science student is also one of Thailand's richest men, after much of his father's fortune was transferred to him in September 2000 to comply with Thai constitutional rules.

A 25% stake in Shin Corp, worth over 13m baht ($325m), was placed in his name as his father is not allowed to hold more than a 5% stake in any listed company while in office.

Facing suspension

Mr Wiwatchai said the discovery was made during a law examination and that Panthongtae was removed from the examination room.

He has been blocked from taking any more exams until an investigation into the incident can be carried out.


In my private opinion, I don't think he intended to do it. He just forgot like many students forget

Professor Vichot Wanno

If found guilty the 22-year-old student could be failed in all of the subjects he has taken this term and be suspended from his studies for up to a year.

"Panthongtae was found with a copy of some notes in his pocket. In this kind of incident, if students are found guilty of intending to cheat, they will be punished," Professor Vichot Wanno, his student advisor at the university, said.

"The university is considering whether in his case he meant to cheat or just forgot about the notes," he added.

Innocent oversight?

Professor Vichot however is not convinced of Panthongtae's guilt.

"In my private opinion, I don't think he intended to do it. He just forgot like many students forget. But this has become a big issue because he is the prime minister's son," he told AFP.

This was a sentiment echoed by a government spokesman who said Panthongtae had just taken a small notebook into the examination room "which many students do".

His father Mr Thaksin has refused to comment on the incident.

Although Thai news websites have been reporting the story there was no mention of it on the evening television news.

According to AFP the Thai government news organisations said they had been asked not to report on the story.

See also:

31 Dec 01 | Asia-Pacific
03 Aug 01 | Asia-Pacific
03 Aug 01 | Asia-Pacific
05 Jun 02 | Country profiles
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