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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 November, 2003, 11:53 GMT
Thai massage tycoon eyes politics
Bars in Pattay, Thailand
Massage parlours are often a front for prostitution
A Thai sex industry tycoon has called for public support as he turns his anti-corruption campaign into a new political party.

Chuwit Kamolvisit, owner of several Bangkok massage parlours, took out a full-page advertisement in the Matichon daily newspaper on Tuesday, inviting people to join his Thon Trakul Thai, or First Thai Nation Party.

"Come fight with me for justice in society. Give me just one chance," said the advertisement, which will run in five other papers.

Mr Chuwit's media profile has soared since he exposed police corruption in July, alleging he paid millions of dollars in bribes to officers.

He said he went public because police failed to prevent his prosecution in two criminal cases, even though he paid $288,000 in bribes every month for several years.

He has said he is being forced to make a stand because of "back-stabbing and ungrateful" police officers

Prostitution

His claims have triggered a shake-up in the Bangkok police.

Almost 100 officers have been suspended or transferred, though none have been prosecuted.

Mr Chuwit owns the country's largest chain of massage parlours, which are often used in Thailand as fronts for prostitution.

Mr Chuwit has admitted that his masseuses sell sex every night.

But he has said he is helping the poor and has provided jobs for 20,000 women over the last 10 years.

Some of those women have been recruited into the anti-corruption party, which he launched on 15 October.

According to Thai laws, he has 180 days to acquire 5,000 members and to set up four party branches, in order to run in the next election in early 2005.

"With a flood of phone calls to support him, we're confident that the party will win some seats in the election," party spokesman Panya Chaitanapanit said, according to the Associated Press news agency.


SEE ALSO:
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Country profile: Thailand
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