Corruption watchdog urged to speed up probe into MP’s suspected land holdings
Political activist Srisuwan Janya submitted a letter to Thailand’s National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) today (Monday), urging them to speed up the investigation of 18 members of the parliament, who he accuses of illegally possessing state land, including land under the land reform program.
The move came after a high-profile verdict by the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Political Office Holders last week that stripped Palang Pracharath (PPRP)’s Pareena Kraikupt of her MP status and banned her from running for or holding office for life over the forest reserve encroachment of her poultry farm in Ratchaburi province.
Known for having filed petitions against numerous politicians and political activists in his capacity as the secretary-general of the Thai Constitution Protection Association, Srisuwan, said that he has filed petitions with the NACC since November 2019, against 19 MPs of various parties, including the one against Pareena, which has been the only case against that has been decided.
In finding Pareena guilty of gross ethical misconduct, he said the court had set a precedent that MPs are not poor people, because of their comparatively high income, so they have no right to occupy land reserved for land reform program as such land occupation will deprive the poor of the chance to occupy a land plot to make a living.
In her Facebook post last night, Pareena urged the NACC not to apply double standards in its investigation of alleged or suspected illegal land ownership by other MPs.
She said that the Supreme Court had made clear, in the ruling in her case, that politicians have no rights whatsoever to claim ownership of state land, whether they were aware or not that the land is in forest reserves or for land reform purposes, and the ownership of such land is regarded as a gross violation of ethical conduct.
She noted that it has been more than two years since the cases against the other MPs were sent to the NACC and no action has been taken against any of them, unlike in her case.
NACC Secretary-General Niwatchai Kasemmongkol explained yesterday that Pareena’s case was not complicated and had sufficient information available. Therefore, could be concluded quickly.
For the other cases, he said there are differences between each of them and they must be considered on case-by-case basis.