Jaruvan just won’t go away

14 08 2010

The Bangkok Post reports on the case of auditor-general Jaruvan Maintaka and her refusal to step down at the Office of the Auditor-General. Jaruvan has been in her position since 2001 and at every point, from her initial appointment, she has been embroiled in controversy. A look at her Wikipedia entry shows that:

  • The chairman of the State Audit Commission who submitted a list of three candidates for the post of auditor-general to the Senate, instead of the SAC’s one choice, was later sentenced by the Criminal Court to 3 years in jail for malfeasance on this case.
  • The Constitutional Court later ruled the selection process that led to Jaruvan’s appointment  was unconstitutional. Confusing things, though, the  court didn’t say she had to step down (as any reasonable person would have).

By this time, Jaruvan was seen as an opponent of then Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, and when she refused to resign on the basis that she was “royally-appointed” and thus required a “royal dismissal,”she became one of the heroes of the developing People’s Alliance for Democracy and the royalists. She joined with PAD in petitioning the king to use Article 7 of the 1997 Constitution to replace Thaksin as premier. This act confirmed the political nature of her actions.

Jaruwan’s action and the fact that she simply stayed were indicative of a disdain for the law by not just her but by all of her yellow-shirted supporters, including those in the palace. When the SAC nominated a replacement for Jaruvan, which was approved by the senate in May 2010, the king withheld his royal assent from the appointment, effectively backing the illegal retention of the position by Jaruvan.

It was yet another political intervention from the palace that finally, in February 2006, made her appointment “legal.”  The SAC confirmed  Jaruvan as auditor-general after a memo from the Office of His Majesty’s Principal Private Secretary demanded that the situation be resolved. The SAC concluded that the royal command that appointed Jaruvan was still in effect, despite the Constitution Court’s ruling that her appointment was unconstitutional.

Of course, the military junta kept Jaruvan in office after the 2006 coup. She soon became a leading member of an Assets Scrutiny Committee that was given wide powers to investigate alleged corruption in the Thaksin government. Her interventions were at times bizarre and highly public, but the ASC did the job the junta tasked it with and several cases were progressed. When the Democrat Party-led coalition was shoe-horned into place in 2008, “corruption fighter” Jaruvan suddenly seemed to become disinterested in corruption allegations against the government she’d worked hard to get into place.

Now, she seems to have worn out her welcome and to have become a burden for the Abhisit Vejjajiva government. That she is loopy has never been in contention, but her usefulness as a loopy royalist now seems at an end.

The current issue is that she is now past retirement age, but just keeps coming to the office an “performing” as if she should still be auditor-general, despite an interim replacement having been appointed. Her replacement says it is all “too damaging” now. The Council of State has ruled that she should have stepped down upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 65 on 5 July, but she just keeps refusing. She gives orders despite having no legal authority.

The Post adds: “Since her arrival in the top job, Khunying Jaruvan has appointed her son Kittiwat as a personal secretary on a salary of 40,000-50,000 baht a month. Khunying Jaruvan is paid about 200,000 baht a month.” It could have added a string of other allegations related to nepotism and corruption that have been made against her, including regarding her very large and new family home.

This is an example of what happens when the only standard used is one that is political – is the person involved a “loyalist” and ally in the fight against Thaksin? By that standard, the current government’s foundations are in a cesspool of “loyalists” that include some who are bizarre – like Jaruvan – some who are remarkably corrupt and dangerous – like Newin Chidchob – and, of course, many who are armed. All of them expect “pay-offs.”



One response

9 09 2010
Jaruvan to Thailand’s rescue « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] in her previous successful bid to hold this office – a saga that goes back to 2001 – she is still arguing that she was “appointed under the Royal […]

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