Democrats tie Pongsapat to police scandal
Signed contract 'but denied knowledge of project'A corruption scandal involving a large-scale project to build police stations and living quarters - first revealed in the no-confidence debate last November - is now heavily linked to the Bangkok governor's election, with two rival parties exploiting it to discredit each other.
The opposition Democrat Party, fielding incumbent Sukhumbhand Paribatra in the March 3 poll, yesterday publicly presented what it claimed was documentary evidence in the case.
It showed the signature of rival candidate Pongsapat Pongcharoen, nominated by the ruling Pheu Thai Party, on a written approval in 2010 for the Bt5.84-billion project to be awarded to PCC Development and Construction Co Ltd.
Democrat spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut said the document contradicted an earlier public statement by Pongsapat that he did not know about the project.
The memorandum, dated September 30, 2010, showed the signature of Pongsapat, then a deputy national police chief, endorsing national police chief Patcharawat Wongsuwan's declaration that PCC Development should be awarded the contract.
National police chief General Adul Saengsingkaew had earlier defended Pongsapat, saying, briefly and in disjointed statements, that the candidate was not involved in the project because it was many years ago.
Department of Special Investigation director-general Tharit Pengdit had earlier accused Democrat secretary-general and then deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban, of benefiting from the project, by scrapping an earlier process allowing many individual bids for a single nationwide bid.
Chavanond said the change was the Royal Thai Police's own decision, recommended to Suthep by former acting national chief Pol General Pratheep Tanprasert.
PCC Development was required to build additional structures at 396 police stations and 163 apartment buildings across the country. It had abandoned a large number of projects, or made little progress with a few underway, after claiming a large amount of advanced expenses, a figure Tharit put at Bt1.5 billion.
Patcharawat had earlier assigned a senior policeman responsible for the electronic bidding process, Pol Maj General Phoolwadol Wutthakanok, to give statements to the DSI on his behalf. The DSI said later Phoolwadol's statements were complete and Patcharawat’s further testimony was not needed.
Adul, his predecessors Priewpan Damapong, Pratheep and Wichean Potephosree, along with Suthep and former premier and Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva, would be next to give statements, the DSI said.
Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung challenged Abhisit to seek an impromptu inquiry in the House meeting on Thursday in a live televised session. He said he was sure that Pongsapat played no part in the project.
DSI chief Tharit yesterday made an inspection visit to a Chiang Mai police station where construction was aborted.
He said he was not defending Pongsapat or favouring Pheu Thai in the Bangkok governor's election, only giving details of allegations based on facts the DSI had gathered.