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Thailand’s Anti-Corruption Commission Vows to Wrap Up Probe of “Rolex General” Will it Be A White Wash?



Prawit-themed graffiti created by “Headache Stencil” on a pedestrian bridge on Sukhumvit Soi 58 earlier this this month. – Nation Photo

BANGKOK – Thailand’s National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) has vowed to complete its “probe” into Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon’s luxury wristwatch scandal by the end of the month.

NACC president Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit a personal friend of Gen. Prawit said the NACC secretary-general’s office has twice reported its progress to the commission but has yet to give an update after Thursday’s deadline for Gen Prawit to submit his third explanation passed.

The commission nevertheless expects to conclude it’s case this month, he said.

The NACC was forced to launched its inquiry after Gen Prawit was spotted by media late last year wearing a luxury watch, believed to be a Richard Millle worth at least 2.5 million baht, and a diamond ring that were not included in his official assets declarations.

Twenty-five watches, worth about 39.5 million baht, were subsequently spotted on Gen Prawit’s wrist in press photos in the following months. The general has since claimed all were loaned to him and have been returned to their owners.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan shouldn’t have been surprised by the public uproar over the latter’s luxury wristwatches. In politics, transparency has to do with doubts as much as facts. You can’t keep governing effectively when you are the centre of suspicion, whether you’re innocent or not.

Prayut staged a coup against the Yingluck government first and put the former prime minister and some of her Cabinet members on trial for alleged corruption later.

Journalist Tulsathit Taptim of the The Nation says the same “principle” should apply where Prawit is concerned. Once serious doubts mount, the man first has to go, and then he can start trying to prove his innocence.

Many people who had never been united before are now joining hands in an attempt to force Prawit out of politics and more importantly, Prawit has brought attention to the real reason why corruption is so hard to eradicate in Thailand.

Meanwhile, Democrat Party deputy leader Nipit Intarasombat yesterday called on the public to put pressure on the government to live up to the ethical standards it has frequently espoused.

The three key issues Mr Nipit wants to see addressed are Gen Prawit’s luxury wristwatch scandal, Mr Premchai’s alleged poaching and the ethical conduct of former national police chief Somyot Poompunmuang who borrowed 300 million baht from the fugitive massage parlour tycoon Kampol Wirathepsuporn now facing human trafficking charges.

“We should step up the pressure to make sure law enforcement proceeds the way it should. We shouldn’t associate with those trying to interfere or whitewash wrongdoing,” he wrote on his Facebook page.

Former Democrat MP Watchara Phetthong yesterday also submitted a petition to the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) demanding a probe into the conduct of Pol Gen Somyot.

He said the ethical codes are now in place and they should apply to Pol Gen Somyot even though his questionable actions took place before he was appointed as an NLA member.

By Bangkok Post

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