Reaction to the NACC’s Prawit decision II

29 12 2018

The Nation reports “widespread criticism after the [National Anti-Corruption Commission] commissioners decided to drop charges against [Gen] Prawit [Wongsuwan]’s controversial collection of 22 luxury watches…”.

A Bangkok Post editorial states the NACC ruling “is unconvincing and dubious due to its weak rationale behind the decision and and its half-baked probe into the case.” It adds that “given its half-hearted commitment to pursue the case in the first place, the public has reason to suspect that the intention was to let the deputy prime minister and defence minister off the hook easily.”

Interestingly, the Post points to a similar case where an official was convicted:

In 2011, when it probed former transport permanent secretary Supoj Saplom’s possession of an undeclared asset, a 2.9-million-baht car, which he claimed belonged to a friend, the NACC ruled against him, saying such high-value lending was not possible. It also ruled that Supoj was guilty because he was the one who actually used the car, even though the registration papers stated that his friend was the owner….

Conveniently for Gen Prawit and the military junta, the NACC now seems to have reversed itself and it now says that holding and using watches worth millions is okay.

Other reactions:

Anti-corruption activist Srisuwan Junya … issued a statement … alleging malfeasance on the part of the five commissioners who had found Prawit innocent and declared he had gathered 20,000 signatures to get them sacked.

Activist Veera Somkwamkid said … he will file [a] lawsuit against the NACC for letting Prawit walk free.

Meanwhile, Puea Thai Party deputy spokesman Wattanarak Suranatyut asked if others face a similar situation do they now just say the valuable item is “borrowed” from a “friend“?

The Democrat Party’s Charnchai Issarasenarak said “the NACC appeared to have found an excuse for General Prawit, instead of finding facts regarding the controversial collection.” He added: “The NACC was incapable of finding facts about the 25 watches. This is a disgrace for the agency and could end up being a catastrophe for it…”. Worse for the NACC, Charnchai”accused the NACC of lying to the public by claiming it could not find out who had bought these watches.”

In another Bangkok Post report, Khattiyaa Sawasidipol, deputy spokesperson of Thai Raksa Chart, said “the NACC’s resolution would allow people suspected of assets concealment to cite being on loan as an excuse.”

In The Nation’s report, the NACC is reported as “defending” its decision. NACC secretary-general Worawit Sukboon insisted its decision was “based on evidence shown in the case file…”.

That is about as weak as it can get. However, it matters little for the puppet NACC. It does as it is told and then returns to its protective shell – the military junta.

Reaction to the NACC’s Prawit decision I

28 12 2018

The Bangkok Post has a story reporting negative reaction to the National Anti-Corruption Commission decision to clear Gen Prawit Wongsuwan. It states the NACC:

found itself in the hot seat after it cleared Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon of wrongdoing in the luxury watch scandal, ruling by a majority vote that he did not make a false asset declaration.

It cites Mana Nimitmongkol, secretary-general of the Anti-Corruption Organisation of Thailand, who said:

the NACC failed to show transparency in investigating the case. It did not say what the charges were and initially declared Gen Prawit did not evade asset declaration. It was only after reporters asked whether he could be violating the law about accepting a gift of over 3,000 baht that the NACC said it was another issue.

… He also questioned the investigation process and conclusions of the NACC. “We can ask whether the laws contained loopholes for the asset declaration requirement. In that case, the laws need to be amended,” he said, adding that he wanted to see the individual verdict report of the five NACC members who cleared Gen Prawit of wrongdoing, and the three members who only said there was not enough evidence.

“In the justice procedure, the defendants can say anything but it depends on whether police seek to find the truth or not. Likewise, today we have to look into how the NACC works. But for the defendant, society has judged him already,” Mr Mana said.

The ruling was denounced by activist Thicha Nanakorn. She referred to: “This unscrupulous act by the NACC and the political office-holder will go down in history…”.

There’s more on the NACC “investigation.” On the diamond rings the NACC seems to have considered “some were considered lucky charms.” What does that mean? No value?

The NACC reckons it “sought information from various sources including local dealers of luxury brand watches, the Customs Department, the Foreign Ministry, and from overseas luxury watch manufacturers.” Why and about what is not clear.

An interesting aspect of this report is that while the NACC only located 20 watches, it apparently found scant evidence of the dead business tycoon having purchased the watches:

The investigators found Mr Patthawat bought one from a dealer overseas and two from other people. The NACC could not find purchase documents for the remaining watches and with dealers overseas refusing to give information the agency could not verify the origin of the rest.

This is why the NACC could only assume that the watches actually belonged  to the businessman. That assumption led to NACC concluded “he lent the 21 watches to Gen Prawit.”

Quite an “investigation.”

Watching the NACC

26 12 2018

The only surprising thing in a Thai PBS report on the National Anti-Corruption Commission’s “investigation” of Deputy Dictator Gen Prawit Wongsuwan’s luxury watches is that its “secretary-general Worawit Sookboon was on Wednesday evening booed by a large group of reporters who were disappointed by his refusal to discuss the controversial issue…”. That was at 6.30 pm.

He “told the reporters who had been waiting at the NACC head office since 9 am that the board had not discussed the issue yet and would discuss it tomorrow morning…”.

The delay – one of hundreds – was allegedly because “a member of the board, Pol Gen Sathaporn Laothong, was sick but he would be able to attend the meeting tomorrow.”

So, sometime on Thursday, we should have a report from the NACC on its “investigation.”

The other junta (non-) processing terminal

10 12 2018

A week ago, a Bangkok Post editorial prompted PPT to again post on the puppet National Anti-Corruption Commission’s year-long (non-)investigation of Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan’s undeclared diamonds and dozens of luxury timepieces.

As is usual, when this case is raised in the media, the NACC has a Pavlovian response.

Thai PBS reports that the NACC has announced that it is about to complete its “investigation”:

NACC secretary-general Worawit Sukboon said Friday that the probe panel had already received from the watch manufacturers information about the expensive wristwatches and their serial numbers.

He expected the probe to be wrapped up within this month and the findings would be submitted to the NACC board for consideration.

Any bets on the outcome when the NACC is dealing with its boss?

Updated: The Dictator in full campaign mode

5 12 2018

The Dictator has been campaigning for some time. He’s been campaigning for his own transition from military dictator-cum-prime-minister at the head of a military junta to military-backed dictator-cum-prime-minister at the head of a regime produced by the junta’s rigged election.

That campaigning has increasingly come to mean stumping for the devil Palang Pracharath Party and any other mini-party prepared to support his and the junta’s transition. It is no accident that the Palang Pracharath Party is organized and headed by members of the junta and its cabinet who see nothing wrong with such cheating.

In recent days, however, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha’s campaigning has gone to a higher gear. Not long ago Palang Pracharath “unofficially” declared their support for The Dictator as its preferred dictator into the future. At the time PPT commented that this declaration meant that Gen Prayuth is the de facto leader of Palang Pracharath and that each time The Dictator has his regime throw more money after votes, he does it for his party.

Meanwhile, Gen Prayuth has continued with his buffalo manure dissembling, saying he’s not sure which party he might allow to campaign for him to be premier after the rigged election. Everyone in the country knows he had his men set up Palang Pracharath as his vehicle for the “election.”

However, he did say: “If I am approached, I’ll consider any party which works in sync with what we’re doing now…”. Ipso facto, Palang Pracharath. That party is unlikely to “win” a majority, so Gen Prayuth also needs other like-minded anti-democrat parties. As The Dictator put it: “What I have in mind is that I will support parties which steer the country with a strategy. If other parties have better strategies than the PPRP, just present them…”.

In the last few hours, The Dictator has moved from the phony campaign to the real campaign, with a “giant billboard next to the main highway in Ratchaburi province” that promotes Gen Prayuth as prime minister.

Naturally enough, others have complained that Gen Prayuth is cheating and flouting his own law. Even the media notes that the billboard “appears to be an obvious violation of the order by Gen Prayut’s National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) that forbids all electioneering.”

Our immediate thoughts were not only that The Dictator is openly cheating – he’s been doing that for years – but that he or one of his minions seem to feel that Britain’s embattled premier, Theresa May, is the best advertising for a military dictator. For all of her faults, she at least faces a real parliament and comes from an election. She has also been shown to be subject to the rule of parliament. None of that fits Thailand’s military leader.

The criticism of The Dictator has caused Palang Pracharath’s Somsak Thepsuthin to complain that “certain political parties of dividing public opinion by attacking Gen Prayut for trying to prolong his stay in power.” He was unhappy that The Dictator was in any way criticized.

That’s a possible pointer to the future, where a Palang Pracharath-led government would “protect” Gen Prayuth. Expect more corruption, more repression and efforts to insulate The Dictator.

Update: It is now reported that the The Dictator’s  campaign poster has been removed. This comes as the Election Commission states that it is “investigating” the poster for contravening some law or a junta decree. Nothing serious should be expected of the puppet EC.

Monarchy, junta and a refugee II

4 12 2018

A couple of days ago PPT linked to a despicable tale of Thailand’s junta flouting international norms by detaining an accredited refugee from Australia. Hakeem Al-Araibi, a footballer, was detained at Bangkok’s international airport on an Interpol red notice issued at Bahrain’s request.

The Bangkok Post has noticed the case and has an editorial that states that “the detention is not just legal but conforms in all ways to international norms.” The are citing Immigration Police chief Big Joke (yes, that’s his nickname), Pol Lt Gen Surachate Hakparn, a junta minion, close to Deputy Dictator Gen Prawit Wongsuwan.

We are not sure either the Post or Big Joke are correct on this claim about “legality.” After all, Big Joke has previously engaged in illegal and dubious international interventions. In addition, as the Post points out, “case is almost completely opaque.”

In addition, as the Post notes, “Interpol notices are not legally binding, but simply indicate a request from one country to all others for help with alleged fugitives,” meaning claims about “legality” are buffalo manure or a big and sad joke.

So why does the military junta do this? Here’s the reason, as explained by the Post:

The problem is that Araibi is a legal refugee in Australia who is wanted in Bahrain, where he was persecuted and tortured for his political views about the monarchy of that country.

It adds that Big Joke is an “agent of an attempt to merely curry favour with an undemocratic Middle Eastern government.” In fact, Bahrain is about as democratic as Thailand under the military dictatorship and both are more-or-less autocratic monarchies. That fact speaks loudly in this case.

One year of the luxury watch non-investigation

3 12 2018

The Bangkok Post has to be applauded for its editorial that observes the anniversary of the day “Deputy Prime Minister [Gen] Prawit Wongsuwon showed off his diamonds and a costly watch…” that became more than a score of luxury watches.

The Post points out that the Deputy Dictator had never declared the watches in his assets lists.

He says he borrowed the watches, worth millions each, from a friend who is now dead. Lucky that, for Gen Prawit.

The National Anti-Corruption Commission was meant to “investigate” their boss. The NACC is also headed by a Prawit ally. So, the “investigation” has gone nowhere. The Post observes:

The watch scandal has continued until today. Every couple of months, Mr Worawit issues a statement that the probe will be wrapped up “soon”. Social media users have quickly grown cynical and openly deride the NACC for alleged incompetence.

In fact, the NACC is not incompetent at all. It is corrupt. It is deliberately corrupt, covering up for the junta’s deputy.

The editorial concludes:

Gen Prawit is the highest-ranking regime member caught in corruption suspicion. But other friends of Gen Prayut, including his brother Gen Preecha, also have been excused from the rule of law. It is inexcusable that the NACC refuses timely investigation and release of information to the public. It is far worse when the government allows such conduct.

What we can’t help thinking is how many corruption cases have simply been hushed up? Imagine what it is going to be like if this regime continues for another four or more years. How corrupt will it become when The Dictator has to cover up for his political party as it eats its fill at the taxpayer’s trough?