By Teeranai Charuvastra and Pravit Rojanaphruk
BANGKOK — Citing a lack of partiality, a former minister said Friday the entire national anti-corruption body should be removed from office once a civilian government is in place.
Chaturon Chaisang said the National Anti-Corruption Commission, or NACC, lost all credibility after a majority voted to clear deputy chairman Prawit Wongsuwan of wrongdoing for possessing nearly two dozen ultra-luxury watches without disclosing them. Chaturon called it proof of intervention by the ruling junta.
“All of this was problematic since the appointment of NACC executives under intervention by the government and the NCPO,” Chaturon, who’s currently an advisor to Thai Raksa Chart Party, told reporters, using the acronym of the junta’s formal name.
On Tuesday the commission voted 5-3 to find Gen. Prawit not guilty of any crime, accepting the general’s claim that all 22 watches were loaned to him by a now-deceased friend. All five members who voted in favor of Prawit were appointed by the junta.
“I think that society does not concur with the majority of the NACC,” Chaturon continued. “It shows that the system to scrutinize corruption in this country is problematic and lacks credibility. We have to live with [a system] that we cannot trust to be straightforward.”
He went on to call upon the next civilian government to select a new set of commissioners and amend the constitution to rid the junta of its any influence over the commission.
There’s also a separate effort to collect 20,000 signatures for a petition to impeach the five commissioners who voted to exonerate Prawit.
Speaking to reporters after the ruling, Gen. Prawit maintained he was innocent.
“It’s the truth,” Prawit said. “They didn’t belong to me, so why should I disclose them?”
Pheu Thai spokesman Anusorm Iamsa-ard called on the commission to reveal how they rationalized their votes.
Calling it “the miracle of 2018,” Anusorn said Saturday that in the past two years, except for in Prawit’s case, no single military officer has been found corrupt by the commission despite 350 cases against non-military officials and political office-holders.
He said Prawit’s case has diminish the military regime’s claim of tackling corruption.
Anusorn said the investigation by the anti-corruption commission should continue as they themselves admitted that there is no record as to how most of these watches have been purchased, no proof of ownership and that they should not just willing accept Prawit’s account of the event.
Anusorn also questioned how one of the 22 watches, a Rolex Yacht Master in Everose Gold and rubber strap could have been borrowed since Prawit’s friend passed away in early 2017 and the watch was released in late 2016.
Anusorn claims that he learned that the minority votes within the commission concluded that the investigation was not yet complete and questioned why it wasn’t continued.