BANGKOK – Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha cautioned on Friday, that people should not jump to the conclusion the Bangkok governor was suspended from office because he had already been found guilty of any misconduct.
Gen Prayut said he had no choice but to use Section 44 to temporarily remove MR Sukhambhand Paribatra from the top job at the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration after the allegations of his involvement in irregularities made by the Office of the Auditor-General (OAG).
His suspension from office would clear the way for a full investigation. MR Sukhumbhand could be given his old job back if he is cleared of the allegations, the prime minister said in his first comment since issuing the suspension order.
The OAG suggested to the city governor in July that he should temporarily step down after uncovering Â suspected irregularities in the budget for City Hall’s New Year light display that cost 39 million baht. The governor promptly rejected the suggestion and threatened to sue the OAG for damages.
MR Sukhumbhand, whose second four-year term expiresÂ in March next year, is now unemployed and without pay, under the Section 44 order issued on Thursday.
The suspension order came out as he was on his way to Seoul to attend a twin-cities meeting in Seoul, South Korea
The planned activities involving officials from the two capitals on Saturday and Sunday remain unchanged, but without the Bangkok governor, the YonhapÂ news agency reported.
MR Sukhumhand has not reacted to his removal since learning of his fate.
His spokesman, Wasant Meewong, told Matichon Online from Seoul that MR Sukhumbhand had left the City Hall delegation attending the event and departed for Thailand.
“He acceptsÂ the order and he will not appeal it or make any statement,” the spokesman said.