The royalist claim is always that it is “politicians” who are corrupt and engaged in nepotism, sucking the nation dry.
As any sensible observer of Thailand’s politics and history knows, this claim is ideologically-driven claptrap. It is widely known that officials, who like to claim they are in the king’s service, are among the most corrupt and studies regularly show that the police top the list, followed by
human smugglers navy commanders. The current military regime is no different, with dozens of “assets declarations” showing miraculously wealthy police and military officers.
Two recent stories shed further light on this and also show how cover-ups are abetted by agencies that claim to operate to protect the nation but who operate as politicized cabals to protect their sponsors and bosses.
The first is at the Bangkok Post and reports on so-called good-governance activists calling on the Office of the Ombudsman to launch an ethics investigations of The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha and appointed Deputy Prime Minister and junta flunky Wissanu Krea-ngam for nepotism. Ethics is not a word that can be used in the same sentence when discussing military dictatorships and coup masters and nepotism is their stock in trade.
Something called the Association of Organizations Protecting the Thai Constitution points out that Wissanu is the “brother of two men named to the National Reform Steering Assembly: Air Marshal Chalermpol Krea-ngam and Dusit Krea-ngam.” The organization also says that in appointing “77 military and police officers, both active and retired, to sit on the 200-member NRSA” Prayuth has broken ethical rules.
Of course they have, but as the junta rules by its own rules we don’t expect to see any investigation or responsibility taken.
The second report is also at the Bangkok Post: and involves Prayuth’s brother, Defence Ministry permanent secretary General Preecha. This story is not about nepotism, although it might have been, but about assets declarations and an “investigation” by the politicized National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC).
We guess this goes back to the “problems” Preecha had with his declaration back in October 2014. Then, Prayuth’s younger brother’s declared assets of almost 80 million baht. This turned out to be wrong and it was calculated by one blogger as being about 90 million baht.
At the time, the then Assistant army chief “defended his declaration of wealth … saying everything can be explained.” One of the “explanations” was that he was being singled out. He said that “people only focused on his wealth because he is the younger brother of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.” Another “explanation” is that he ” included accounts of the 3rd Army that he held when he served as its commander.” He doesn’t say which accounts or why he declared assets that weren’t his. He does say that “those accounts [were] worth a total 46.9 million baht.”
None of this bothered the NACC. On Wednesday it declared him squeaky clean, even “praising Gen Preecha’s honesty.” Yes, he’s an honest general in one of the world’s most dishonest military forces.
The NACC secretary-general Sansern Poljeak revealed that the general and his wife held 10 bank accounts and all were included in the file submitted by Preecha, “although they were listed on different pages” and five of them were left off the summary of assets. This means, says the NACC, that the “couple declared 89.42 million baht in savings accounts, 42.05 million baht of which was under Gen Preecha’s name and 46.99 million baht under his wife’s name. It was unclear if the remaining 380,000 baht had been accounted for.”
By our calculations, this means that Preecha’s declaration of total assets should be at least 126.7 million baht. That’s about $3.5 million, with about $2.5 million in bank accounts. (We think all of these declarations are under-estimates as Preecha and his wife seem to have too few of the other assets reported by other unusually wealthy cops and generals.)
Instead of praising Preecha’s “honesty,” why isn’t the NACC investigating how it is that a man who has spent his life in the military manages to be a dollar millionaire just on the money he has in the bank.
Update: The main activist involved in the claims of nepotism is Srisuwan Janya who has run campaigns against just about every government since the mid-2000s (examples are here and here). The Bangkok Post reports that Srisuwan has been “invited by the military for talks to ‘promote understanding’…”. It seems like this is the standard re-education demanded for opponents as he posted on social media: “The soldiers are taking me to the 1st Army headquarters on Ratchadamnern Road.” The Dictator won’t abide critics.