Despite the Army’s claims to the contrary, it seems pretty clear that some at the very top of the Army have made personal fortunes from corrupt activities. In this sense, the relatively small amounts skimmed from the one-billion-baht Rajabhakti Park project are just a part of a long-standing corruption in the military.
As we keep saying, if you look at their assets declarations, almost every single member of the current junta has assets that far exceed what might be expected from their official salaries. No one ever seems to investigate these revelations of “unusual wealth.”
The Rajabhakti Park project offers yet another opportunity to scrutinize the top brass’s capacity for corruption.
The Bangkok Post reports that “[p]ressure is mounting on the army after graft watchdogs signalled they would start an external investigation…”.
The next National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) meeting is going to come under huge pressure to drop this idea. The pressure will come from Generals Prayuth Chan-ocha and Prawit Wongsuwan.
The NACC secretary-general Sansern Poljeak states that the agency “has been gathering facts on the park for the last two weeks.” The NACC may whitewash as well, but that remains unclear at this point.
The NACC is supported by the Anti-Corruption Organisation of Thailand (ACT) which “will write to the army Tuesday, urging it to let external bodies examine details of the construction of Rajabhakti Park.”
ACT secretary-general Mana Nimitmongkol said “[t]oo little information has been released to the public…”.
Army commander Theerachai Nakvanich has tried to cover up the investigations and has stated that “there was no need for other agencies, including the NACC, to investigate the case…”.
Prawit has mumbled something about the NACC probing the Rajabhakti Park project “if there are grounds for an investigation.” But he was clear that no one should investigate junta member General Udomdej Sitabutr. He stated: “No press briefing is needed. Let the army handle the issue [regarding the press]…”.
In another Bangkok Post report, Privy Council president Gen Prem Tinsulanonda “has advised the army to spend its budget well, because it is not rich.” Maybe he means not rich enough?
His speech, however, did deem a warning to the junta: “mature adults must possess moral integrity as a safeguard against corrupt practices and any temptation to take advantage of others.”
There seem few such adults in Thailand’s military, police or business sector. Even the palace seems unable to enter adulthood as defined by Prem.