22 May 2024

Thailand’s National Anti-Corruption Commission has faulted former deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban, former acting national police chief Pol Gen Pateep Tanprasert and several others for alleged collusion concerning the construction of 396 police stations nationwide, a project worth an estimated 5.8 billion baht.

The police station project dates back to 2011, during the Democrat-led government with Mr. Suthep as deputy prime minister. His post involved oversight of the Royal Thai Police. Originally, construction of the 396 stations was to be undertaken by nine contractors, on separate contracts, covering the country’s nine regional police bureaus. Those nine deals were, however, subsequently merged into one deal with just one contractor appointed to build all 396 police stations, which delayed the project and led to its cancellation.

Before the NACC recently reached their conclusion on the controversial case, an investigatory panel was set up and reportedly found the allegation against Mr. Suthep and Pol Gen Pateep had merit.

Mr. Suthep reportedly testified to the panel at least three times, to defend himself. He claimed that he was not involved in the contract signing, nor did he approve the changes to the bidding process. He also claimed that the deal was done in accordance with the budgetary regulations of the prime minister’s office, but the construction was delayed and, for that, he claimed he didn’t know who should be held accountable.

Mr. Suthep is the founder of the Ruam Palang Prachachart Thai party, one of the coalition parties with its party leader, M.R. Chatu Mongkol Sonakul, being named the new labour minister.