The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) says there is nothing suspicious about the resignations of 13 vice-presidents who refuse to make public their personal assets. (File photo)
The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) has played down scepticism after 13 vice presidents at Mahidol University (MU) resigned ahead of an NACC regulation requiring them to declare their assets was to be put into effect.
NACC president, Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit, said the vice presidents were worried that any mandatory asset declaration, which applies to every university vice president as of Monday, would be burdensome.
The regulation aims to record the assets of university vice presidents and verify their claims are correct, he said.
The declarations will not be revealed to the public.
He conceded the requirement that assets are declared within 30 days — before a position is undertaken, one year into the role, or after a person resigns — may put some university vice presidents under pressure.
He also added the NACC will not be too strict about the deadline for declarations and that delays may be granted on a case-by-case basis.
Dr Udom Kachintorn, MU’s president, said those 13 vice presidents of the university have the right to decide whether to resign and their resignations will not affect the rights of anyone else.
After their resignation from their executive positions, they will continue teaching.
“As for the speculation their resignations were in protest against the NACC, I would like those who think this to treat this as a matter of rights. The NACC has the right to probe the assets of someone else, and they may find it unfair and be unprepared for such a probe. If they quit we cannot force them to stay,” Dr Udom said.
A source said the university had approved requests by 13 of its vice presidents to resign from their positions on March 31.
In a statement released Tuesday and signed by Dr Udom, the university insisted the resignations of the 13 vice presidents, effective on April 1, were not motivated by an attempt to avoid the assets inspection by the NACC.
The resigning vice presidents can be forgiven for being unprepared for the declaration because they had only four working days to get ready for it, from the day the NACC announced the new requirement on March 27 to the day it took effect on March 3, said the statement.
Unlike other executive positions offered at the ministries, the vice president position offered at MU is not regarded as career advancement because those holding this position must return to their teaching position at the end of their vice presidential terms, said the statement.
Since it is difficult to find anyone else to replace the resigning vice presidents at the moment, they are currently requested to serve as acting vice presidents until replacements are made, said the statement.
National Anti-Corruption Network (NACN) secretary-general Mongkolkit Suksintharanon, meanwhile, called on the NACC to investigate whether these 13 vice presidents were trying to avoid the assets inspection.
He also intends to ask the NACC to explore ways to retrospectively inspect the assets of the 13 former vice presidents.
In response to the NACN’s movement, Pol Gen Watcharapol said the NACC will only process a petition to probe anyone if there is a good reason to suspect the particular person may have done something wrong as accused.
There are 564 vice presidents at 84 universities who are now required to declare their assets to the NACC; however, acting university vice presidents are exempt from this duty, he said.
Meanwhile, according to Matichon newspaper, Chulalongkorn University executives Tuesday announced they were ready to declare their assets, insisting none of its nine vice presidents are going to resign.