11 July 2024

The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) has landed itself in hot waters with its ruling that clears Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan in a scandal in which he was accused of failing to declare the more than 20 expensive wristwatches he was seen wearing on different occasions.

An anti-graft crusader and a social activist today took aim at NACC by questioning its professionalism and transparency.

Former Bangkok senator and rights activist Rosana Kositrakul casts doubts on the NACC’s reasoning for absolving Gen Prawit and accused it of applying double standard.  She demands the anti-graft agency to disclose in full the individual ruling of each of the NACC members.

NACC on Thursday ruled in favour of Gen Prawit on the grounds that since he was not the owner of the 22 controversial designer wristwatches,  he was not legally bound to include them in his assets declaration.  Gen Prawit has insisted all along that the wristwatches were loaned to him by a late friend, Patthavat Suksriwong, a wealthy businessman and a former classmate of his.

NACC accepted Gen Prawit’s claim that the watches were owned by Patthavat despite the fact that there were no ownership or purchase documents to back it up.  Rosana pointed out that without such documents, the wristwatches in question should have been treated as smuggled items as they had not been taxed.

She also demanded to know the NACC’s opinions regarding some of the wristwatches still worn by Gen Prawit even after he claimed that he had returned all of them to Patthavat who died early this year.

Suggesting that the anti-graft panel might have adopted double-standard, Rosana cited the case of former transport permanent secretary Supote Saplom who had been earlier faulted by the NACC for being unusually rich and for not declaring a vehicle, a Volkswagen van, in his possession.

Supote claimed that the van was lent to him by a friend and used by his wife so he didn’t declare it to the NACC.

Mana Nimitmongkol, secretary-general of the Anti-Corruption Organisation of Thailand, also criticized the NACC for not being transparent in investigating the case.  He also expressed strong doubts about its investigation process and how it came to its conclusion.

Meanwhile, Thai Constitution Protection Association secretary-general Srisuwan Janya invited members of the public to join his signature collection campaign to impeach the five NACC members who voted to clear Gen Prawit of any wrongdoings.

He alleged that the five commissioners had abused their authority in favour of the deputy prime minister.