Wealth, power and the corruption of justice

10 07 2021

With all of the virus stuff going on, we are a bit late getting to this post. However, as it concerns the seemingly never-ending saga of corruption and double standards in the judicial system, it merits a late post.

A few days ago, the Bangkok Post reported that all members of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) have been ordered to “sit on a newly formed panel that is tasked with investigating 15 senior police officers, prosecutors and investigators who mishandled the 2012 hit-and-run case involving Vorayuth ‘Boss’ Yoovidh­ya, the Red Bull scion who has managed to escape prosecution so far.”

Apparently, after almost 10 years, the case is officially considered “high profile.” We guess that for all of the previous nine years the case has involved the high profile but that the judicial system was doing its well-paid best to do deals to get Boss off.

Vorayuth Red Bull

An AFP photo clipped from ChannelNews Asia

NACC chairman Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit has also decided, after all these years,”that the investigation must be wrapped up in a timely fashion…”. Right. But, then: “As required under Section 48 of the National Anti-Corruption Act, the NACC must conclude the probe within two years. It will be allowed by law to extend the investigation for another year at most, if more time is needed…”. So that could be 2024…. Timely… not.

The report reminds readers that there are “currently two other committees probing the issue.” We figure that “probing” is an over-statement.

In an editorial, the Bangkok Post states that this NACC “investigation” is “welcome news.” It notes the damage the case’s cover-up has done to the judicial system: “The anti-graft body would do a great service to the justice system and country at large with a swift investigation. It should also make sure to avoid all the mistakes by other agencies that performed at snail’s pace over the past nine years.”

Well, maybe. Of course, the NACC has generally been hopeless on almost all the cases sent to it, “investigating” with double standards and political affiliation always in mind. The rest of the judicial system has been equally biased and corrupt to boot.

The wheeling and dealing has been huge. Even before the NACC commissioners got to “work,” it seems that “one member, Suchart Trakulkasemsuk, withdrew from the panel.” Why? Because as a member of the junta-appointed National Legislative Assembly “he had been a member of NLA’s subcommittee on justice and had received a petition from Vorayuth’s family…”.

It turns out that the fabulously wealthy and immensely powerful Yoovidhya family were “allowed 14 appeal attempts … which is unprecedented.”

The Post concludes with the obvious: “the suggested three-year period seems far too long, taking into account the fact the case had dragged on for nearly a decade.”





General corruption

16 06 2021

About a week ago it was reported that The Dictator’s brother, Gen Preecha Chan-ocha is being investigated by the National Anti-Corruption Commission for his assets declaration back in 2014.

His alleged false declaration involves his new, luxury house in Phitsanulok and a bank account belonging to his wife.

In a follow-up, the Bangkok Post, referring to him as “Senator Preecha,” has it that Gen Preecha, who had claimed he had “explained everything,” is now expected to turn up at the NACC “some time this month to acknowledge charges of concealing assets belonging to him and his wife.” In fact, he has been “summoned to hear the charges, and the agency is expecting the senator to show by the end of the month.”

We can’t wait! But we may have to. The report states that:

Once Gen Preecha meets with NACC, he will be given 15 days to come up with a rebuttal, he said, before adding Gen Preecha can seek an extension with the NACC if he needs one.

After that, NACC commissioners will decide whether to forward the case to prosecutors or not.

This is a real test for the NACC if it is to turn itself into something other than a regime tool.





Still on the lam

16 06 2021

The 2012 hit-and-run case involving tycoon scion Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya of Red Bull fame, when he killed a policeman while driving his luxury sports car while intoxicated is back in the news.

The Bangkok Post recently reported that, after all these years, the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) is considering whether it mightlaunch an inquiry against at least 10 people for their alleged role in delaying justice…”. That means those officials who helped Boss and his associates tamper with witnesses and smooth his escape from the country to enjoy the high life on the lam.

It is not the NACC that has been investigating. According to spokesman Niwatchai Kasemmongkol it is the findings of an:

independent panel headed by former NACC member Vicha Mahakun [that] indicated a number of people, including several police officers and public prosecutors, played a big role in getting prosecutors to drop criminal charges against Mr Vorayuth.

That report was “taken up by a NACC sub-committee, which in turn recommended the NACC to launch a more detailed investigation into individuals which the Vicha panel believed had intentionally acted to derail the justice process.”

That’s the report. Will it do anything? Or is it just another stalling tactic? After all, as everyone knows, Vorayuth and his lawyers repeatedly postponed his court appearances before he fled abroad.

Vorayuth Red Bull

An AFP photo clipped from ChannelNews Asia

While Vorayuth was on the lam, “a speeding charge against him was dropped after its one-year statute of limitations expired in 2013…. Meanwhile, a second charge — failing to stop to help a crash victim — expired on Sept 3, 2017.”

Only a cocaine use charge and a reckless driving causing death charges remain. The former expires in September 2022 and the latter in 2027. Previously, the Office of the Attorney General had recommended dropping the reckless driving charge. It was the public outcry over that that saw Vicha’s panel put together.

Somehow, we feel that justice will never be served. In Thailand, for the rich, justice and injustice are commodities.





An NACC surprise

10 06 2021

After more than six years, PPT has been surprised that the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) has finally acted on an clear breach of the assets disclosure rules by The Dictator’s brother and currently appointed senator, Gen Preecha Chan-ocha.

The Bangkok Post recently reported that the NACC commissioners voted 9-0 to ask Gen Preecha “to acknowledge charges of concealing assets belonging to himself and his wife.” Indeed, “Niwatchai Kasemmongkol, the NACC deputy secretary-general, told Isra [N]ews Agency the NACC was in the process of laying charges against the accused.”

Following that, Gen Preecha is expected to “give further statements to the commission before the case is concluded. After that the case will be submitted to the commissioners who will decide whether to forward it to prosecutors.”

This case goes back to 2014, when Gen Preecha was appointed to the military junta’s National Legislative Assembly. Then he was said to have “falsely declaring his assets and liabilities…”.  According to this report:

corrupt-preecha

Clean hands?

The alleged false declaration has to do with Gen Preecha’s failure to include his house in Phitsanulok and a bank account belonging to his wife, Pongpuan, in the couple’s asset list.

Gen Preecha claims to have “explained everything to the commission in January and February and would let the law run its course…. He insisted that he filed his assets and liabilities properly.”

PPT’s first post on Preecha and his assets declaration is from October 2014, when he declared assets of almost 80 million baht, but already there were errors in his declaration. As he does now, back then the Assistant army chief Preecha “defended his declaration of wealth … saying everything can be explained.” His explanations then were bizarre and entirely unlikely.

About a year later, with Preecha now Defence Ministry permanent secretary, an “investigation” by the NACC was reported and seemed to have to do with his declared assets. When and if there really was an investigation was unclear, but the NACC declared Gen Preecha squeaky clean, even praising his “honesty.”

The NACC secretary-general was reported as revealing that the general and his wife held 10 bank accounts and all were included in the file the general submitted although he stumbled over the details and admitted that the general had filled out the form strangely.

Since then there’s been plenty of reporting about alleged nepotism and family corruption, not to mention Gen Preecha collecting taxpayer-funded allowances and salary for not doing his appointed job.

We can but wonder why the case against Gen Preecha has suddenly re-emerged and why it has taken so long. Can the NACC really have turned? Is this all about intra-coalition bickering?





Jokers and the chicken farmer

12 02 2021

In one of the most laughable of news stories Thai PBS reports that the military leader and head coup maker in Myanmar are asking Thailand’s most recent coupmeisters to provide “support for his country’s democracy.”

Democrat at work

Even more laughable, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, leader of Thailand’s 2014 coup, military dictator for more than 5 years and administrator for a rigged constitution, rigged laws and a rigged election retorted that “he is ready to extend full support to democracy in Myanmar…”. He claimed that “democracy in Myanmar” was “something I totally support…”.

Not only is this comically ironic, but Gen Prayuth is piling up buffalo manure. He has little understanding of democracy, doesn’t support it in Thailand, and can’t support it in Myanmar because he supports the coup makers there. The latter is clear when he babbles about “Myanmar’s democratic process…” following a coup that overturned a landslide election victory.

From the comically ironic to the ridiculously horrid.

Startlingly many, Thailand’s Office of the National Anti-Corruption Commission has done something. Usually its job is to support the regime, but in this case it has found that the notorious Phalang Pracharath Party MP Pareena Kraikupt has committed “serious ethical breaches.” This involves her “building a poultry farm on a protected forest land.” It has sent the case to the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions.

This could lead to Pareena being “stripped from her seat and banned from holding political offices.”

The NACC said the “case of MP Parina Kraikupt unlawfully owning and benefitting from state land is a serious ethical breach…. There is a conflict of interest between her individual benefits and public benefit.” It investigated and found that Pareena and her father “encroached and benefitted from state land…”. The  711-rai chicken farm is estimated to have “cost the state at least 36,224,791 baht in damages.”

“The case of MP Parina Kraikupt unlawfully owning and benefitting from state land is a serious ethical breach,” the announcement by the commission said. “There is a conflict of interest between her individual benefits and public benefit.”

In response, Pareena “insisted she had done nothing wrong,”claiming: “I have been making an honest living by raising poultry openly and legally and paid taxes…”.





Updated: Thammanat and his bags of loot

16 11 2020

The story about the nepotism involved in Prime Minister Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha’s dishing out of a lucrative taxpayer-funded seat to one of convicted drug smuggler Thammanat Prompao’s wives has caused many to shrug their shoulders. “It’s just what they do!” say not a few observers.

We think the indignation should be far louder. After all, Thammanat and both his wives are fabulously wealthy and hardly need more money sucked from the body of the Thai taxpayer. Yes, we know, the king and the leeches of the royal family do the same.

Thai PBS provides some more detail on the great wealth of Thammanat, his registered spouse Arisara Prompow, and his 25 year-old common law spouse Tanaporn Srivirach.

The latter was “[c]rowned Miss Thailand in 2016,” and was “handed a job in the Secretariat of the Prime Minister on November 10.” Tanaporn is reportedly “among a quota of 20 government staff who must be nominated and endorsed by the premier.”

Arisara is reported to be “worth Bt189 million according to the assets declaration Thamanat filed last year when he became an MP.’ Tanaporn was declared to be worth “about Bt63.6 million in assets…”.

And, former inmate now minister, Thamanat “is worth a whopping Bt886 million…”.

An example of a Hermes bag priced in Euros. Sourced from the internet.

That’s a total wealth of almost 1.14 billion baht. We can only guess at how it is that someone who spent four years in prison can be so fabulously wealthy.

Tanaporn’s declared assets included some “42 ultra-expensive designer bags,” including a “Hermès Kelly 28 in black croc worth nearly Bt2 million, a shiny Hermès Constance in alligator leather worth Bt1.4 million, and a Chanel 2017 rocket worth Bt680,000, among others.”

She “also has a taste for luxury cars: her garage reportedly houses a Mercedes-Benz worth Bt5.8 million and a Bt8.9-million Porsche.”

Tanaporn is among a quota of 20 government staff who must be nominated and endorsed by the premier.

As we have said before, it beggars belief that the National Anti-Corruption Commission just accepts asset declarations and never asks how it is that those making the declarations came by their loot.

Update: The Bangkok Post has got around to criticizing Tanaporn’s appointment and the regime’s “response” is lambasted. An editorial states: “It’s not clear how her experience would benefit her new position as an official in the prime minister’s secretariat office.” We suppose that her relevant experience is being the crooked Thammanat’s wife. He’s a big shot and gets what he wants (and says what he wants – his lies).

It is not clear why the Post thinks Thammanat’s heroin trafficking conviction in Australia is “alleged” or why this is described as a “still unresolved scandal.” Nothing is unresolved and “alleged” is wimpish when the Post has seen the official documents from Australian courts. Nor is it apparent to us why the Post decides to portray Thanaporn’s appointment as showing that there is “the possibility that nepotism was at play.” Possibility? Seriously?

Most of the rest of the editorial is on target. Thammanat should have been sacked months ago and investigated for unusual wealth. That hasn’t happened because he’s a crucial enforcer and fixer for the regime.





Updated: Nepotism and Thammanat

11 11 2020

How odd that we recently mentioned convicted heroin smuggler and government minister Thammanat Prompao in a post just a couple of days ago. He’s back in the news, with one of his wives – 30 years his junior a former Miss Thailand – suddenly being allocated a position within the Prime Minister’s Office.

Clipped from Thai Newsroom

Deputy government spokeswoman Traisuree Taisaranakul announced that on Tuesday, “the cabinet approved the appointment of Ms Thanaporn Sriviraj as a government official, with immediate effect.” Traisuree “said Thanaporn has been actively working as her husband’s personal secretary before the proposal was made to the cabinet.”

Clipped from Khaosod

Presumably she thought this claim would remove the awful smell of nepotism and corruption. But that’s difficult with a deputy minister with a heroin trafficking conviction, fake degrees and a gangster reputation, not to mention the murder case he got off.

According to Wikipedia, “Thamanat’s parliamentary declaration of assets in August 2019 listed two wives, seven children, and a net worth of about A$42 million, including a Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Tesla, and Mercedes-Benz along with 12 Hermès and 13 Chanel handbags, luxury watches, and Thai Buddha amulets.” That declaration also listed dozens and dozens of bank accounts.

Funny how the National Anti-Corruption Commission is uninterested in how Thammanat came to be so fabulously wealthy.

Isra News Agency, which has more details on the “interesting” assets declaration, says that Thanaporn drives a Porsche and owns dozens of luxury watches and handbags.

And, how is it that Thammanat is so wealthy? See above and add in gangster lottery contracts and similar shady deals.

So, why does Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha’s administration do him favors and appear so hopelessly tone deaf? We have the answer here.

Is this appointment going to look a bit like the Thungyai hunting scandal? It should.

Update: Wissanu Krea-ngam seems to enjoy rolling in slime. Once again, he has come out to support the cabinet’s convicted heroin smuggler. Like a mobster’s corrupt lawyer, Wissanu has defended the indefensible:

Wissanu asked reporters “why can’t it be done?” after being questioned about Tuesday’s controversial move. When pressed if the appointment of spouses and family members into government positions was appropriate, Wissanu said it wasn’t illegal.

Of course, others have also defended the cabinet’s “Don” and Palang Pracharath’s northern enforcer. In 2019, several deputy prime ministers and the prime minister supported Boss Thammanat. Back then, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, speaking after a cabinet meeting, “said that he would no longer comment on legal cases against cabinet ministers because they had been clarified by those involved.” Clarified means denying that anything happened in Australia, despite all the legal documents and Thammanat’s four years in prison.

Nepotism is, it seems, legal in Thailand. Just like unusual wealth, murder (if you are rich or in the military), shoveling funds to Sino-Thai conglomerates, etc.





No corruption in Fantasy Land

30 09 2020

As mentioned in a Bangkok Post editorial, the junta’s National Anti-Corruption Commission has released another “ranking” of government agencies, state enterprises and “independent” bodies for “Integrity and Transparency.”

The NACC lives in a junta bubble and last year’s ranking was a farce. This year, Fantasy Land’s National (Anti-)Corruption (Whitewashing) Commission provided an “A” ranking to “all branches of the military and the three courts, namely the Administrative Court, Court of Justice and the Constitutional Court…”.

If this wasn’t so corrupt, we’d be rolling on the floor in hysterical laughter. It gets worse/funnier.

“Independent” bodies – no such thing exists – that also got “A” grades were the junta’s hopeless Election Commission and, of course, the National (Anti-)Corruption (Whitewashing) Commission itself.

Even the Post is staggered that the EC could be finagled into this bizarre category and also notes that the NACC is a joke (our word): “As it is closely linked to the powers-that-be, the agency has found it difficult to shake off concerns about its credibility.”

Credibility is in short supply in the junt/post-junta’s Fantasy Land.





Astounding legal action I

23 07 2020

The use of “double standards” is so common in post-2006 Thailand that it gets little commentary in the local media; it just gets reported as a matter of fact event.

To begin this short account of double standards, consider that no leader of a successful coup or any successful coup group-junta has ever been held to legal account.

Then consider the most recent case against Yingluck Shinawatra, reported in the Bangkok Post.

It seems the junta’s National Anti-Corruption Commission “has found grounds to the accusation that former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra and two other former officials committed offences and abused their authority by rolling out a roadshow campaign to publicise infrastructure development projects in 2013.”

Along with Yingluck, “former prime minister’s secretary-general Suranand Vejjajiva and then PM’s office minister Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisan stand accused of violating two laws — Section 151 and Section 157 of the Criminal Code and Section 12 and Section 13 of the law on offences relating to the submission of contract bids to state agencies.”

The NACC said that the “alleged offences are related to the 240-million-baht Building the Future of Thailand in 2020 project launched in 2013 at her [Yingluck] instruction as prime minister.”

The events included “exhibitions, seminars, and other public relations activities to promote an infrastructure investment scheme…”.

On “March 12, 2014, the Constitutional Court ruled the bill sponsored by the Yingluck government to authorise the Finance Ministry to seek 2 trillion baht in loans for infrastructure development projects was unconstitutional.”

According to the NACC, this means that the 2013 events were “effectively rendered null and void, and the 240-million budget already spent on the campaign was wasted, causing damage to the state…”.

The NACC will now ask the Office of the Attorney-General to take legal action in the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions.

It doesn’t take a legal eagle to observe that the action against Yingluck and her colleagues is driven not by law but by vindictiveness.

Meanwhile, actions by an illegal junta and its manipulations since the 2014 coup get a pass and are never investigated.





Demonstrating double standards

2 07 2020

Double standards have been a defining feature of the judiciary and the so-called independent agencies since the 2006 military coup. Confidence in the judiciary has declined and the “independent” agencies are a laughable.

Even so, they continue to coordinate on double standards. The reports of the last day or so shout DOUBLE STANDARDS!

The Constitutional Court ruled on 1 July that the ruling party’s Bangkok MP Sira Jenjaka had not abused his authority when in August 2019 he jetted off to Phuket to involve himself in case there and “attacked a police officer … for not providing him with an escort.” The loudmouthed Bangkok MP shouted at the hapless policeman, describing himself as a big shot who should have police escorts. The Palang Pracharath Party hack now plans to sue the 57 MPs who brought the complaint. It remains unclear why a Bangkok MP was involved in local affairs in Phuket.

Then there’s everyone’s favorite convicted criminal and deputy minister, Thammanat Prompao, also of the Palang Pracharath Party.  The Constitutional Court also rejected a petition against him. The Court had been asked “to rule on the eligibility of Thamanat … holding a seat in parliament due to his wife’s business dealings with The Port Authority of Thailand (PAT).” This wife, one of two, “holds shares in Klongtoey Market (2551) Co Ltd, and the company entered into a land lease contract with the … PAT.” He was claimed to be in breach of Article 184 of the constitution. While that article is straightforward and applies to spouses, “the court said it found the contract with PAT is not monopolistic. Therefore, there is no reason for Mr Thamanat to lose his status as an MP.” We have no idea why a monopoly matters in this case, except for the Court is slippery interpretation.

We suppose that ruling royalist party MPs getting off is par for the course these days and that the cases might sort of slip by as “normal” these days.

But then there is other news that makes it all reprehensible.

It is reported that:

Thailand’s National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) has found that former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra abused her power, in violation of Section 157 of the Criminal Code, for her illegal removal, nine years ago, of Thawil Pliensri, from his post as secretary-general of the National Security Council and subsequent reassignment to the PM’s Office as an advisor.

NACC deputy secretary-general, Niwatchai Kasemmongkol, said today (Wednesday) that the NACC’s investigative panel found that  Thawil’s abrupt transfer was carried out with undue haste, taking just four days for the entire process to be completed.

Readers will recall that Yingluck was unanimously found at fault by the Constitutional Court and dismissed from office for the transfer of a top security officer, Thawil Pliensri, as National Security Council secretary-general in 2011.

That, following the 2014 coup, the junta summarily transferred hundreds of officials counts for nothing. It’s okay when the royalist thugs do it under conditions where only their “law” matters via retrospective edicts and so on.

Now the NACC “wants to bring another case against former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra in the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions.” The NACC “will ask that Ying­luck be indicted for malfeasance and abuse of power.”

These royalist minions to the junta/post-junta are a nasty lot, but this action seems oddly vindictive. Why are they doing it? It is our guess that the regime’s bosses (again) see Thaksin Shinawatra as “stirring up trouble,” so they hit the family again.