Secret meetings at the junta’s processing terminal

17 06 2017

Readers may recall that four months ago it was reported that an iLaw study pointed to the apparently unconstitutionality of some members of the military junta’s puppet National Legislative Assembly who were being paid large amounts of money for seldom appearing at the NLA. Immediately, the details of “leaves” taken were considered “secret.”

Clean hands?

At the time, the limelight was on The Dictator’s brother, General Preecha Chan-ocha, who had a record of nepotism and other allegations of corruption, all of which seem to have faded away or that he’s wriggled out of. It helps to have your sibling lording it over the country. It can make you rich and gets you off all kinds of potential charges.

Preecha hardly ever attended the NLA, but pocketed the salary, which was on top of numerous other salaries he collected because he has multiple positions, all state sinecures.

PPT guessed that Preecha would get off this one and continue to receive money for nothing because can “leaves” are secret. We predicted an announcement will be made that the non-attendees were “on leave.”

Sure enough, almost immediately, that statement was made by none other than Deputy Dictator and Defense Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan has declared that “it is not a problem that General Preecha Chan-o-cha, the former Defence permanent secretary and brother of the prime minister, takes frequent leave from legislative meetings…”. But he did say that “a committee is being set up to examine the case.”

Less than a week later, the vice president of the military’s NLA said “an internal review” found the seven members in question had in fact met the minimum participation requirements and would not be dismissed. No details were provided so we can assume this was all fudged and fabricated.

As might be expected under the military dictatorship, things went quiet and it was all forgotten. Preecha and his fellow non-attendees still pocketed the money.

The story returned yesterday, and readers will not be amazed to know that Preecha and his buddies have been officially cleared.

The NLA told the media that “the seven members, including former Army Chief General Preecha Chan-o-cha, did not breach the regulation.”

The reason for this was that “they sometimes had to perform their normal duty as state officials…”.

Of course, this is a nonsensical response that, on the face of it, ignores the NLA’s own rules.

However, we will never know what actually happened or get any further detail because “the meeting was held in secret for one hour today [Friday].”

Yes, that’s how the military dictatorship works.

Just to confirm suspicions that this was a concocted result, the “NLA also voted in favour of amending its work procedure rule, removing clauses which set out the number of times a member fails to vote that would cause membership to be nullified.”

That is clear. Loud and clear. The NLA is a rubber stamp for the junta almost always voting unanimously for laws handed down by its paymasters.

This decision acknowledges that the NLA is irrelevant; it doesn’t even need members present to do the junta’s bidding. In fact, calling it a “rubber stamp” assembly is giving it too much credit. It is an expensive processing terminal.





Fudged to save well-paid relatives and buddies

24 02 2017

In an earlier post, we commented on the “clearing” of the seven puppet lawmakers who were “investigated” on allegations that they had failed to fulfill their required duties with the National Legislative Assembly. A report was said to be forthcoming that cleared the well-paid and senior friends of the junta.

PPT concluded by stating: We can’t wait for the report to see how this is fudged.

The Bangkok Post has now reported on this. It is another one of the junta’s concoctions to preserve nepotism, corruption and impunity.

NLA secretary general Vararat Atiphaet “told reporters on Friday that from Jan 1-Dec 31, 2016, NLA members voted 1,264 times in total.” She went on to confirm that “each member had to cast in at least one-third of the votes, or 421, to maintain their status.”

Helpfully, the Post constructed the table below:

From the Bangkok Post

For the table, a year of attendances is presented by the NLA and only “missed votes without prior leave-of-absence requests shall be counted as missed votes.”

As the Post points out, there’s hocus pocus going on: “the timeframe the NLA used in the calculation was 365 days even though its own regulation says the one-third rule applies to a 90-day period.” This sleight of hand went unexplained.

So the data is a pile of buffalo manure. Even so, the absences are remarkable! The next question is when those in the table (and others) are skiving off are they still “paid a position allowance of 71,230 baht and an extra allowance of 42,330 a month, totalling 113,560 baht.” And that doesn’t include “committee allowances.”

The answer seems to be that “If a member fails to attend half of the meetings scheduled each month, he will not receive the extra allowance for that month unless he is on a parliamentary trip approved by the NLA president.” So, the money for nothing seems to be 71,000 baht++.

Recall also, as the Post points out, these lazy thugs get an “allowance” so they can continue to collect other salaries:

Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam said two years ago that a state official may not receive salaries from more than one source but may accept unlimited position allowances and other compensation so long as the payments are not called a salary.

The trough is filled with loot and is warm and inviting. These guys are swimming in it.





Non-voting, unconstitutional puppets “cleared”

23 02 2017

Khaosod reports that the “[s]even [puppet] lawmakers who failed to fulfill their required duties will not lose their jobs…”.

PPT has to say that this is exactly what we expected.

The vice president of the military junta’s puppet National Legislative Assembly, Peerasak Porjit, pre-empted a “review report” due Friday.

He is said to have “[c]ontradict[ed] an expose published earlier this month, [and] said an internal review found the seven members in question had in fact met the minimum participation requirements called for under the body’s regulations, and therefore would not be dismissed.”

The details of the earlier kerfuffle are here and here.

Khaosod adds:

Among the seven, the worst record was held by Gen. Preecha Chan-ocha, the younger brother of junta chief Prayuth Chan-ocha. He was found to have cast only six votes out of a total 453 roll calls during a six-month period. Assembly by-laws call for members to be removed if they don’t participate in more than one-third of all votes during a 90-day period.

Puppet Preecha “insisted he had sought and obtained permission for his absenteeism.” Therefore, they would not lose their seats under constitutional provisions.

Khaosod states that NLA president Pornpetch Wichitcholchai decided to make up law and/or display his ignorance of the rules and the junta’s constitution when he “pointed out that the number of sessions the members reportedly missed – 300 to 400 – were the number of roll-call votes and not days. They assembly has only met about 200 days since it was established after the 2014 coup.”

Readers can look at the laws and link through to them on our posts and see that the NLA president is making this up and/or displaying his ignorance and/or arrogance.

We can’t wait for the report to see how this is fudged.





Money for nothing II

17 02 2017

In a post a little while ago, PPT had the story of puppet legislators missing in inaction at the National Legislative Assembly. We mentioned Prachatai’s report of an iLaw study of the apparently unconstitutionality of some members of the military junta’s puppet National Legislative Assembly. We used the word “apparently” because the details of “leaves” taken are considered “secret.”

At the end of that post we speculated that because “leaves” from the puppet NLA are “secret,” and because The Dictator’s brother is one of those involved, and because the junta’s work is at stake, we expected an announcement that the non-attendees were “on leave.”

Clean hands?

Clean hands?

Sure enough, we already have that statement. The Nation reports that Deputy Dictator and Defense Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan has declared that “it is not a problem that General Preecha Chan-o-cha, the former Defence permanent secretary and brother of the prime minister, takes frequent leave from legislative meetings…”. Oddly, he also stated that “a committee is being set up to examine the case.”

And just in case you wondered, General Prawit declared that “Preecha took leave under normal regulations of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA)…”.

Of course he did. And, if he didn’t, you can probably bet he has applied now and been approved.

As we understand it, even on leave – for almost all the six months he missed almost all meetings – he still draws his NLA salary that is in excess of 100,000 baht a month.

Money for nothing.

Prawit explained the “situation.” He speculated “that as Preecha also served as the defence permanent secretary he might need to take leave sometimes.”

In any case, the NLA is just a rubber stamp for the junta so missing meetings is hardly an issue for The Dictator and his dictatorship. Demonstrating its puppet status, “Prawit said he had already talked to NLA president Pornpetch Vichitcholchai. Prawit said they found no problems…”.

Still, to launder the record, General Prawit “told Pornpetch to go ahead with setting up a committee to examine the case.”

That will result in a finding that there’s no issue. Junta-led “investigations” of themselves always reach this conclusion.

Naturally enough, General Prawit was loyally supported by “Army Commander General Chalermchai Sittisart also defended the absence of NLA members from legislative meetings, including the PM’s brother.” Chalermchai did admit that the NLA “is far different from a normal House, as it draws members from various professions, many of whom are civil servants, meaning they also have their own work to take care of.” He means its a puppet, rubber stamping hoax legislature.

General Preecha’s record displays considerable evidence of corruption and nepotism. His protection by his brother and the regime is simply one more case of gross double standards.





Money for nothing I

16 02 2017

Many readers will have already seen Prachatai’s report on the iLaw study of the apparently unconstitutionality of some members of the military junta’s puppet National Legislative Assembly. We say “apparently” because the details of “leaves” taken are considered “secret.”

The point made by iLaw – Prachatai’s report doesn’t seem to get it quite right – is that the stipulated requirements of the Assembly are that in order to receive the substantial salaries they receive, the puppets are mandated to attend one-third of voting sessions in the Assembly. The requirement to attend a stipulated number of voting sessions is mandated by the military’s interim constitution at Article 9(5).

Clipped from iLaw

Clipped from iLaw

The big noise in all of this is that, yet again, The Dictator’s brother, General Preecha Chan-ocha, features. Preecha appears to play by his own “rules,” engaging in all kinds of nepotism, while pocketing the loot of his relationships and his military position, with impunity. Preecha is included in the graphic above, with 4 + 1 attendances.

We can also extrapolate a little on these findings. By not attending for the stipulated proportion of voting meetings, prima facie, membership of the Assembly is ended. Thus, by continuing to receive a salary for doing nothing or very little, such members are potentially engaging in an act of corruption. It can also be suggested that any Assembly actions they take are also unconstitutional. In essence, decisions the Assembly has taken, that these members have been involved in – when they managed to attend – may also be deemed unconstitutional.

We can surmise that, because “leaves” are secret, because The Dictator’s brother is involved, and because the junta’s work is at stake, that an announcement will be made that the non-attendees were “on leave.”





The corruption glacier II

14 02 2017

In our previous post we stated that there were two stories today that emphasize how the National Anti-Corruption Commission is politicized, biased and just plain slow. Glacially slow. This post also illustrates some of those issues.

Khaosod reports that an NACC “[i]nvestigation into accusations of cronyism within the ranks of the ruling junta was suspended along with other cases due to a legal technicality…”.

Read the story as political bias, read it as the glacier having stopped inching forward or read it as both.

SchultzThis story seems to say that all inquiries and investigations, “including that over a construction company run by junta chairman Prayuth Chan-ocha’s nephew, can not move forward until officials implement the changes in recent amendments to anti-graft laws…”.

NACC Secretary-General Sansern Poljiak said: “we halted all cases.”

Oops, sorry, that’s Sgt Schultz in the picture, not General Preecha…. Still, it seems to fit this story. A lot of people seem to know nothing.

So all that guff about Rolls Royce investigations was, for the moment, horse manure? It seems so. But back to “investigations” of nepotism.

Then Sansern told reporters, no, not halted: “It’s the same for every case that we have to slow down for only two months so we can fix internal regulations and make them comply with the bigger laws.”

And if anyone was confused, halted means “working as usual”: “… our works are not being halted. Our officials are still working as usual.”

Sansern declared: “I insist that we have not halted only the fact-finding in the case of Gen. Preecha’s son…”. So that’s the NACC not investigating nepotism, but “fact finding.”

The it turns out that the “halt”-cum-“working as usual” of two months has almost finished. Yes, we know, it is confusing. But, then, think about this post and wonder if “halted” is exactly the same as “working as usual.”

Whatever is (not) happening, we are sure those in the broad elite who do and who have benefited from a corruption network in Thailand can continue to sleep easily at night.





Brotherly corruption

28 12 2016

What should have been the big story today seems to have been reduced in significance in some newspapers as they pussyfoot around the story. It is the story provided by Srisuwan Janya, secretary-general of the Association for the Protection of the Constitution.

He “wants the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) to investigate the mansion reportedly owned by former permanent secretary for defence, Gen Preecha Chan-o-cha, who allegedly failed to declare the property to the anti-graft body.” The photos of the mansion and details of the assets declaration are here (in Thai).

General Preecha is a younger brother of General Prayuth Chan-ocha. He’s got form.

When Preecha made his assets declaration, their were problems. Then, in April, The Dictator was defending his brother against allegations of nepotism after a leaked memo revealed that the permanent secretary for defence had secured a military post for a son. Earlier posts, here and here, provide the background.The last reported scandal was when another of General Preecha’s sons was getting military contracts from the army region his father once commanded.

He’s already past three strikes. And now a mansion.

Srisuwan’s petition to the NACC is about a large house in Phitsanulok’s Muang district said to belong to General Preecha and that went undeclared. As the corrupt often say, it’s difficult to remember all of one’s assets when one has so much.

Anti-corruption advocate and rabid yellow shirt, Veera Somkwamkid “posted on the internet pictures of a luxury house he described as a multi-million-baht mansion constructed on two conjoined plots of land totaling 5 rai.” Veera claims “neighbours confirmed the owners were none other than Gen Preecha and his wife, Phongphan.”

Apparently General Preecha “was quoted in interviews as saying it was his. He said he did not declare it because it was not yet finished and didn’t have a house number.” He said he purchased the land in 2011 and it “had already been included on an assets list submitted to the NACC for inspection.”

The Dictator pushed back, saying: “It’s my brother’s business. Let him explain whether [he has] abided by the law or not…”.

We guess Preecha will remain untouched, unless The Dictator decides Preecha’s failures are weakening the junta’s grip.