All that corruption

7 11 2018

We were interested in a couple of recent stories about corruption and the implications of conflicts of interest.

One was the story about an odd admission of corruption and drug dealing in the military’s Internal Security Operations Command. In it, “Army chief Apirat Kongsompong vows to dismiss Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc) officers found guilty of drug offences.” Grumbling that anti-drugs campaigns were failing, the new Army boss stated:

There is a need to also look at the command, which is a key agency in the state’s anti-drug campaign, and find flaws in the implementation of drug busting measures, for which some Isoc officers are to blame.

That’s quite an admission not least because ISOC has a role in fighting corruption. Based on Gen Apirat’s sudden revelation, that role is a bit like putting Billy Bunter in control of a bakery.

But what really caused us confusion is the fact that ISOC is critical for the stealing for the junta’s “election.” Does this mean that Gen Apirat is working against the junta?

A second story relates to the indigestion of state officials regarding the so-called controversy about a new regulation announced by hopeless puppet National Anti-Corruption Commission “that requires senior civil servants to declare their assets and liabilities…”.

It is well-known that senior civil servants are generally on the take, so we can understand their fright. But, then again, the NACC doesn’t go after unusually rich so long as they are loyal to the junta. Just think of all those self-declared unusually rich in the National Legislative Assembly or the Deputy Dictator and all his luxury watches.

The thing that caught PPT’s eye was the note that the “immediate concern is that university council members affected by the new rule are set to quit their jobs…”. It seems that universities “fear it will lead to university council members leaving their positions in droves.”

Why’s that? It is revealed that “[m]any people from the private sector sit on university councils and are reluctant to declare their assets.”

Okay, that makes sense. Of course, unlike the self-declaring unusually wealthy, business people don’t want anyone to know how wealthy they are, how much tax they avoid and how many bribes they pay for police, military and civil servants.

Updated: Has the NACC completed its cover-up II?

3 11 2018

Is the puppet National Anti-Corruption Commission reading PPT? We think it must be. Each time we poke the Deputy Dictator and the NACC, we get a response. It is almost Pavlovian. We only just asked about the cover-up on the luxury watches (non) investigation just a couple of days ago. Now, the NACC has responded.

But, in fact, it is likely to be a response to the hugely popular rap attack on the military dictatorship that has triggered the slavish response. That video is now over 27 million views, despite efforts to restrict it by both YouTube and the junta.

As usual, the toothless-against-the-junta NACC has a lame response.

The NACC’s secretary-general Worawit Sookboon babbles that “[h]e had just learned that the agency had received the documents from watch companies abroad.” As usual, the NACC is flummoxed, facile and fact-less, with the spineless and supine Worawit reportedly having “refused to elaborate except only that a conclusion is expected to be reached in the not too distant future…”.

The NACC said that months ago. It is just a cover-up. Nothing more, nothing less, nothing more or less than everyone expects.

Update: The Bangkok Post joins PPT in asking questions about the NACC cover-up. It has an editorial that begins somewhat meekly stating the NACC has “disappointed the public once again … with its lame excuse for not completing a long-overdue probe into the … watch scandal…”. It calls out the bogus NACC: “the anti-graft agency’s insistence on seeking … documents from abroad, rather than acquiring proof of ownership from the family of whom Gen Prawit said was his dead friend not only baffled members of the public but also intensified their suspicions.”

The editorial refers to “public anger.” We think there’s not much anger, just more resignation that the military junta do what it wants, when it wants: it can hide behind puppet bodies, lie and engage in corruption.

The question asked is is also lame: “If our graftbusters can’t handle the watch saga in a straightforward manner, how can the public trust them…”? Almost no-one in Thailand trusts the NACC. The widely held view is that it is the junta’s cover-up agency and its attack dog against political opponents. It is a part of the junta’s regime of double standards.

Has the NACC completed its cover-up I?

1 11 2018

It is almost twio months since we last heard anything much about the National Anti-Corruption Commission’s cover-up-cum-“investigation” of Gen Prawit Wongsuwan’s luxury watch case.

At that time, we posted that the Deputy Dictator will probably never have to suffer the indignity of proper investigation by the hopeless National Anti-Corruption Commission. That comment was based on a Khaosod reports that Gen Prawit had stated that he has “returned” 25 luxury watches to the “friend” he borrowed them from.

Great story. Except for the fact that Prawit had already said that his friend was dead. By dead, he means deceased, he is no more, deceased, passed on, he has ceased to be. He’s not resting, he’s dead.

Since then, the NACC, which claimed to be “investigating,” has been silent. It does seem that the NACC has completed its cover up for the junta.

GT200 conviction and the cover-up continues

11 10 2018

Not that long ago we had some posts on the ongoing GT200 corruption scandal.

As a follow-up, Khaosod reports that the military’s middleman on all these deals has been convicted again:

Sutthiwat Wattanakij and his company Ava Satcom Ltd. were guilty of fraud for selling the so-called GT200 devices worth 6.8 million baht to the ministry’s Central Institute of Forensic Science from 2007 to 2009.

The ruling came two weeks after he was handed down the same sentence for selling the devices to the Royal Thai Aide-De-Camp Department in 2008.

Again, no official seems to have been investigated.

We recall that back in 2010, we posted on a story by Pravit Rojanaphruk at The Nation who suggested that “superstition trumps logic in this country.” He asked:

How else can one explain Army chief General Anupong Paochinda and forensics department chief Pornthip Rojanasunand insisting on using the so-called bomb detectors even though a Science Ministry test had proved that they are basically useless?

We also recall that Pornthip is always claimed to be Thailand’s leading forensic scientist and that her support for the GT200 was enthusiastic.

At the time we suggested that corruption was a better answer to Pravit’s question.It still is, but because all three of the most senior junta generals – Gen Prayuth, Gen Prawit and Gen Anupong – were involved, there’s no investigation.

Manipulating and scheming II

4 10 2018

We are playing catch-up on the news about the unethical and potentially illegal actions of ministers in the junta’s regime also serving as executives for the pro-junta devil party, Palang Pracharath.

Yesterday, the Bangkok Post reported that The Dictator declared that the ministers and others working in Government House “have not broken the law by assuming dual roles.”

That may be so, but the “spirit” of their own constitution demands a “caretaker” mode for governments going to election. But, then, law matters for nothing anyway: this is a military dictatorship engineering its own longevity.

Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, who has repeatedly smashed, disparaged and denigrated electoral politics and elected politicians, said “it was their personal decision to engage in political party activities.”

Clearly, that’s a lie. It is a junta plan and strategy.

Remarkably, The Dictator then said his own selected ministers – the four of them – “were not key decision-makers in the cabinet.” That’s the ministers of Industry, Science and Technology, Commerce and from the PM’s Office. Another lie? Maybe, but he’s probably reflecting that in a military dictatorship, it is the military men who are the key decision-makers.

The ministers themselves babbled about being fair and transparent, ignoring the fact that nothing much a military dictatorship does is fair or transparent, least of all in rigging its election. One of them agreed that his ministerial role was of little consequence.

Meanwhile, a Bangkok Post editorial also commented, mistakenly considering that a free and fair election is possible. It is simply not possible. If the junta doesn’t “win,” it will be a miracle.

It says that a problem is that “the military regime seems blind to the fact that it must be seen to be impartial, by all Thais and foreign friends alike.” True, but it is simply impossible. The die is cast. The election will be unfree and unfair because the rules set by the junta make it so.

The call for The Dictator to “release [!??! are they arrested??] government ministers directly and actively aligned with political parties. This must start with the four cabinet ministers who took up leading roles within the Palang Pracharath Party (PPP) last week.”

We agree that “[a]ll of these men should resign from the government immediately.”

This is because “Gen Prayut is … providing declared politicians with an inside track to information, access and direct power that no one else, from any party, has or will have.” He’s also throwing money there way. The editorial adds: “Gen Prayut is openly encouraging a few government cronies to enjoy electoral advantages unavailable to other parties.” And, at last, recognition: “It is not possible that an election campaign and polling can be fair under these circumstances.”

Of course not. The constitution, the “independent” agencies, the electoral law, the appointed senate, etc., etc. all make the election rigged, not just the ministers’ cheating.

Calling for “these politically active men to show some honour and resign immediately” is a call we agree with, but calling for such qualities in a military dictatorship is like asking a tree to talk.

Doubling down on double standards IV

2 10 2018

We have posted a lot on the GT200 debacle. Even so, the Bangkok Post’s recent editorial on the military brass and their impunity deserves attention.

It points out that the retailer of the useless non-devices to the military and other government agencies has twice been found guilty for selling the lumps of plastic. With just two employees, his AVA Satcom Co Ltd. managed to sell large quantities of the junk to the government and military.

(Reminds us that this is not unusual. The non-flying waste of money Sky Dragon was sold to the same military brass by a penny company in the USA. It’s now more than a year since that “investigation” was begun and nothing’s been heard that we know of.)

The Post states that the “military men involved in this shameful saga more than 10 years ago have never been brought to justice.” Why not? The Post “answers”: “They include several of those in high positions in the military regime and National Council for Peace and Order.” (So does the Sky Dragon non-case.)

More than this, Sutthiwat lawyer “claims that Sutthiwat only imported the GT200 … because the army told him to do so.” And more: “Credibly he claims army officers approached his client with instructions, and specific specifications to buy, import and resell the items to the army.”

If it wasn’t a theft of taxpayer funds, this would be funny. It is corruption, managed and directed by senior military officers. And to repeat, as the Post said: “They include several of those in high positions in the military regime and National Council for Peace and Order.”

The Post makes it clear that the “lawyer’s claim is credible because this is the way the Royal Thai Armed Forces do their foreign buying.”

A total of 535 sets of the useless GT200 were purchased by the Army, costing the taxpayer 642 million baht, with”four army commanders in a row spoke glowingly and positively of their effectiveness.” That’s Gen Sonthi Boonyaratglin, who led the 2006 coup and Gen Anupong Paojinda, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha and Gen Prawit Wongsuwan who all led the 2014 coup and now lead the military junta.

Double standards define the military junta.

Hopeless, politicized and corrupt

29 09 2018

We don’t know exactly when General Prawit Wongsuwan “instructed all relevant units to expedite the cases” in the GT200 scandal. Deputy Defense Minister Gen Chaichan Changmongkol made the claim only in the past 48 hours.

On cue, all agencies have now reported in the media that all is finished or almost finished. Wow. Imagine what they could do investigating the Deputy Dictator’s luxury watches, now “returned” to a dead man.

The Department of Special Investigation has finally worked out that the lumps of useless plastic were a scam. That’s only 8 years after the UK banned the devices from export.

Ever wonder why the Thai military and other authorities have been so slow? Think commissions, saving face and impunity.

So now the distributors in Thailand are said to have “deceived government agencies into buying GT200 bomb detectors…”. The DSI found “evidence of fraud and deception by the sellers in the cases…”.

One can only be amazed that the agencies – not a single one of them – did anything more than spend lots of loot and some counted the kickbacks.

Under the junta, who have senior members who were involved in the purchases and/or defended the devices, DSI “made no mention whether any government officials were involved as it concluded the investigation into the decade-old scandal on Friday.”

Between 2004 and 2009 the buyers were: “the Central Institute of Forensic Science [obviously science went out the window with theses non-devices], Royal Thai Army Ordnance Department, Customs Department, Provincial Administration Department, Royal Thai Aide-de-Camp Department, Provincial Police of Sing Buri and Chai Nat, Songkhla Provincial Administration, Royal Thai Navy Security Centre and authorities in five provinces: Phitsanulok, Phetchaburi, Phuket Yala, Sukhothai.”

Money, money, money, must be lovely…. But we digress.

Then there’s the National Anti-Corruption Commission. In a false headline, Thai PBS has it that “NACC breaks silence on GT200 investigation.” Of course, it was only a month ago that the NACC’s Surasak Keereevichiena babbled that “[i]t is difficult for the nation’s anti-graft agency to conclude whether there was any wrongdoing in the Bt1.13-billion purchase of fake ‘remote substance detectors’…”.

Now it says “it had recently received a copy of the verdict by the British court against the British fraudsters of the useless but costly devices.” That, we think, is from a case concluded on 20 August 2013. So the NACC has stalled and grovelled for 5 years. Now, NACC secretary-general Worawit Sukboon says the NACC “had ordered probes into the procurement of the devices by five state agencie, namely the Air Force Ordnance Department, the Army Ordnance Department, the Forensic Science Institute, the Chainat provincial police and the Customs Department.He claimed that the probes of these procurement deals were 80 percent completed.”

At that rate, these half-wits at the national cover-up agency will complete their “investigation” in about two years from now, if they get a move along. They have only “reported” now because they look hopeless, cowed, politicized and dumb.