Third list of corrupt officials submitted to Prime Minister
Dozens of allegedly corrupt public sector officials are facing suspensions or transfers after a Deputy Prime Minister submitted a third list of names to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha in the latest salvo in the administration’s battle against corruption.
The third list contains names mainly of provincial-level officials, but the previous two lists had included suspects who were permanent secretaries, the highest bureaucratic positions at government ministries. A significant amount of government corruption takes place, however, at the provincial level, and the new list represents an expansion of the Prayut government’s sustained campaign to root out graft, conflict of interest and malfeasance.
Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam, who is an expert on legal matters and the justice system, compiled and forwarded the list to the Prime Minister. Wissanu said most of the officials in the third list are suspected of involvement in irregularities concerning state procurement and personnel recruitment. Most are local administrative officials.
However, the list also included seven board members of the Thai Health Promotion Foundation, a quasi-government organization that advocates for more effective policies and programs in public health and operates health projects or donates funds to existing projects run by civil society groups.
The Thai Health Promotion Foundation receives funds from the government and so the work of its members comes under government review. Wissanu said that the seven board members voted to grant funds to civil society organizations in which they also serve or work for, and that constitutes conflict of interest, but not corruption. He also said that projects had received funding that had no apparent connection to public health.
The board members are protesting their inclusion and removal, but Prime Minister Prayut stood by his Deputy’s work and said the Foundation could continue to serve the interests of the public with new board members.
Also last week, five newly appointed commissioners began their work at the National Anti Corruption Commission, a nine-member independent watchdog organization. They were appointed in November following the retirement of other commissioners.
“All [the new commissioners] have the necessary experience and knowledge to conduct investigative work and fact-finding, as well as the determination to do so,” said Police General Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit, a former deputy national police chief who was elected president of the commission.
Meanwhile, members of the Constitution Drafting Commission were considering including provisions in the draft charter last week that would force state officials convicted of corruption to pay for damages they caused to the state and the public. The provisions would allow for seizing their assets in addition to pressing disciplinary and criminal charges in appropriate cases.