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Alumni want director to 'face up' to scandal

Patcharapong 'must be responsible' for Bt3.1m that his school's brass band forced businessman to lend

Satriwitthaya 2 School alumni are pushing the school's director to take responsibility for the recent brass-band scandal.

They want the director to issue an apology and take responsibility for the repayment of Bt3.1 million that the school's brass band "borrowed" from a businessman through pressure tactics. They also want the director to be transferred elsewhere.

Members of the band allegedly camped out overnight outside the business premises of Ichitan Group chairman Tan Passakornnatee and demanded that he lend them money to fund an overseas trip last month. Their move created a public uproar.

The Satriwitthaya 2 Alumni Association convened an extraordinary meeting on Thursday night to address the issue and now plans to raise its points in writing with school director Patcharapong Tri-tepha and relevant authorities.

Letters are expected to be sent to caretaker Education Minister Chaturon Chaisang and senior education officials by Monday.

After learning about the alumni's moves, Patcharapong yesterday asked the association for more time to investigate the event.

"I have already set up a fact-finding committee," he said, adding that the investigation report would be forwarded to the Office of Secondary Education, Bangkok Area 2.

"I will also hold a press conference when I have the facts and will do what I can to clear doubts. I am ready to restore the reputation of my school," he said.

Patcharapong is being held responsible for the scandal because a widely circulated audio clip allegedly reveals some members of the brass band discussing the plan to seek funding from him before they targeted Tan.

"But from the clip, it should be clear that I have not mentioned Tan's name at all," Patcharapong pointed out.

The band has already used up the money it allegedly borrowed from Tan to attend the Colour Guard Nederland competition in the Netherlands.

Meanwhile, Patcharapong has also threatened to sue any media organisation he believes has defamed him in relation to the scandal. "I will check which reports are true and which are slanderous in nature. Some reports have turned me into a defendant in the public's eyes," he said.

Separately, Chaturon said he had instructed the Office of Basic Education Commission (Obec) secretary-general Apichart Jeerawuth and deputy secretary general Kamol Rodklai to urgently resolve the case.

"The faster, the better for the school," he said. As for the alumni's call for Patcharapong to be transferred, the minister said this would depend very much on Obec.


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