Graft fighter hails rulings

Participants attend a seminar organised by the Anti-Corruption Organisation of Thailand aimed at encouraging all sectors to participate more in efforts to stamp out graft. (Photo by Tawatchai Kemgumnerd)

Campaigns against corruption have yielded results with several prominent politicians and state officials convicted and sent to jail, a seminar was told.

Addressing the seminar held in Bangkok yesterday, Pramon Sutivong, chairman of the Anti-Corruption Organisation of Thailand (ACT), said the courts have recently ruled on several corruption cases, sending several high-profile politicians, government officials and businessmen to jail.

Mr Pramon hoped that anti-corruption will continue to be a national priority with all sides working together to support anti-graft efforts.

The ACT has campaigned for stricter law enforcement, quick and fair administration of the justice system, police reform, and improvements to the way civil servants serve the public, he said.

Mr Pramon said the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions ruling on those involved in the fake government-to-government (G-to-G) rice scheme showed the law was being upheld.

He also said that when the Government Procurement and Supplies Management Act (2017) is enacted, the public will be allowed to participate in scrutinising state procurement projects under integrity pacts which can help bring more transparency to state procurement schemes.

The integrity pact requires the presence of outsiders to observe all stages of the procurement process — from drafting terms of reference, which must be fair to all sides, to evaluating delivered projects.

Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva also commented on the new constitution’s mechanisms to create good governance and root out graft. He said there has been little progress in tackling graft and no guarantee the new mechanisms will function properly.

While the government currently has many mechanisms to deal with corruption, it often resorts to using special powers under the all-powerful Section 44 of the former interim charter, which is still valid under the 2017 charter, Mr Abhisit said, adding that he has warned the government not to use Section 44 too often.

Even though the public may feel that invoking Section 44 shows the government is decisive in tackling problems, government efforts to use Section 44 in several cases lacked transparency and were seen as discriminatory practices, Mr Abhisit said

Regarding the Licensing Facilitation Act 2015, which was enacted in July 2015 and aims to push along licensing and set government service standards, Mr Abhisit said the law has been in force for just over two years now, but little improvement has been made.

He suggested the government assign only some state agencies which play a vital role in approving licences to assume this duty to ensure more efficiency.

He also said some state agencies have failed to comply with integrity pacts. Anti-corruption organisations should expose these agencies to the public, he said.

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