Just a few days ago, Deputy Defense Minister General Udomdej Sitabutr was reported as declaring himself as being in the clear on the Office of the Auditor-General’s “investigation” of Corruption Park. Udomdej stated that the Auditor-General “has found no corruption in the Rajabhakti Park project…”.
Yet, just a couple of days later, Channel NewsAsia reports that Justice Minister General Paiboon Khumchaya has “asked the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) to further investigate alleged irregularities … in order to clear lingering public doubts about claims of corruption and kickbacks.”
Why does Corruption Park refuse to go away? Who is keeping it on the political agenda?
As the report states, the “funding for the project, … in a 35.5 hectare military property, has been linked to allegations of involved military officers having privately benefited from the construction of the park.”
Why is that the Minister has asked for more investigations from the Auditor-General when it has “already finished its investigation into the project and concluded that all procedures were followed correctly.”
Paiboon states that “not all questions have been answered and that there are still three to four unresolved issues.” He is not saying what these issues are. He is not saying why previous “investigations” have left these unresolved.
Why is Paiboon continuing investigations when the junta has previously tried to cover-up?
We don’t know the answers to the questions raised above nor to other questions.
Are there splits in the junta? Is a faction in the military seeking to get rid of Udomdej? Why are investigations continuing even after Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn has been a sponsor of the Foundation associated with the Park? Why has the junta been so agitated by a Facebook page posting about military officers associated with the scandal who have fled the country?
Update: The Bangkok Post has an editorial on Corruption Park. It begins: “Justice Minister Paiboon Koomchaya is correct. The public must be given full details about the construction of Rajabhakti Park, especially in areas where corruption is alleged to have taken place, before they can decide if the project is clean.” It observes:
Some people might regard Gen Paiboon’s reaction as possibly stemming from a personal agenda between him and former army chief Gen Udomdej…. Both Gen Paiboon and Gen Udomdej were tipped to become army chief after Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha retired two years ago. Although the top post went to Gen Udomdej, the sense of rivalry has reportedly lingered.
The Post rejects this. It accuses the Attorney-General’s office of an essentially biased and/or incompetent and far too limited investigation.
Meanwhile, a Bangkok Post story has more details on the flap about corruption in the military and involving the monarchy. It is a confusing and confused story, but emanating from within the military.While unstated in the
Given the incompetence of the police and authorities in “investigating” anything, the huffing and puffing is amusing: “Authorities plan to shut down a Facebook page that allegedly spread false information on two key lese majeste suspects in an act police believe was aimed at confusing their investigation.” Lies and confusion are the stock in trade of the uniforms in Thailand. The claim is that there are “50 people thought to be telling lies about suspects’ whereabouts…”.
The “suspects” are Colonel Khachachart Boondee and Major General Suchart Prommai. Why 50 others should be covering for them on Facebook and “misleading” so-called investigators is not stated. The “investigation” now seems to focus on a Facebook page rather than the alleged crimes.
The story states that the suspects are accused that “they solicited money which they claimed would be used to fund the production of T-shirts for the ‘Bike for Mom’ cycling event in August last year.” However, Colonel Khachachart Boondee, has also been mentioned as close to General Udomdej….