BANGKOK – Thailand’s anti-graft body has ruled that members of the National Reform Council (NRC) do not need to reveal their financial assets because their work is “academic,” not political.
"They do not have to declare their assets because they will only perform academic works," said Wicha Mahakul, spokesperson of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC)."They have no stake in politics."
He added, "The NRC will merely use their expertise and knowledge in bringing about changes for the country."
The NRC was appointed last month to oversee the year-long reform process directed by Thailand’s military junta, which seized power in a coup d’etat on 22 May. The council will be tasked with proposing reforms across a variety of sectors, including the country's politics, public administration, judiciary, local government, and mass media, among others.
Normally, all holders of political office in Thailand, such as Cabinet members and lawmakers, are required by law to submit details of their financial holdings to the NACC, which then releases them to the public.
The NACC previously instructed members of the National Assembly Legislative (NLA), the junta's rubber-stamp parliament, to declare their assets. After initial reluctance, the NACC requested the military-appointed Cabinet do the same.
The NLA's declaration of assets sparked a controversy after it emerged that NLA member Gen. Preecha Chan-ocha, the brother of junta leader and Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, has amassed more than 80 million baht in his military career.
Gen. Preecha has insisted that the money was legally acquired by his family, while the NACC bizarrely suggested that the general may have mistakenly inflated his financial holdings because he accidentally included some of the military budget in his personal bank accounts.
The assets of Gen. Prayuth and other Cabinet members will be revealed to the public "in early November," the NACC says.