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Prayut Says “Perceived Undemocratic Status” to Blame for Drop in Global Corruption Index

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BANGKOK – Thailand’s Junta Leader, Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha who led the coup in 2014 citing he wanted to bringing back happiness and eliminate corruption has blamed Thailand “Undemocratic Status” for  Thailand’s latest fall in an annual 2018 global corruption index.

Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha said Thursday that his government’s “perceived undemocratic status” had a bearing on Thailand’s latest fall in an annual global corruption index the Bangkok Post reported.

“That’s how they perceived the government,” Gen Prayut said. “But the result must be accepted.”

When asked by reporters if the drop had anything to do with the luxury watch case involving his former classmate and friend Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, Gen Prayut said, “It was only a trivial matter.”

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan raises his hand to shade the sun, revealing a luxury watch and diamond ring, during a Dec. 4 ceremony at Government House. The expensive jewelry set off an outraged reaction in Thailand.

On Dec 27, the National Anti-Corruption Commission voted 5 to 3 to not pursue a case against Gen Prawit for failing to include 22 luxury watches and 12 rings on the list of assets and debts he submitted to the anti-graft agency upon assuming his cabinet post in 2014.

The commission found there was not enough evidence to rule the deputy premier deliberately concealed his wealth.

His military-backed parliament has passed 298 laws since 2014 and the junta has issued more than 500 orders, according to the National Legislative Assembly, making “huge changes to the legal system,”  Yingcheep Atchanont, a program manager at iLaw, a Thai legal monitoring group told Reuters in a 2017 Interview.

The military government itself has been the subject of a protest in the northern city of Chiang Mai against the building of a government luxury housing project on forested land, the largest gathering since the junta took over.

It is also being investigated by the country’s anti-graft agency over a suspected misappropriation of around 129 million baht ($4 million) from a state fund for the poor.

“They announced they came into power to fix corruption and over the past four years have proved that they can’t,” said Yingcheep.

But others think the military has done what it set out to do.

Mana Nimitmongkol, secretary-general of the Anti-Corruption Organization of Thailand, an independent body which monitors state corruption, told Reuters the military government has “done more to battle corruption than any other government in Thai history”.

Thailand scored 36 points, a two point drop from when Gen Prayut seized power in 2014, on Transparency International’s 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index, which was released on Tuesday.

According to the CPI 2018, Thailand is ranked 99th against last year’s 96th  out of a total of 180 countries.

On par with Thailand is the Philippines while Singapore ranks No 3, Malaysia No 61, Indonesia No 89, Vietnam No 117, Myanmar’s No 132 and Cambodia No 161.