New Bangkok Governor
Pongsapat denies link to building scandal
Tells the DSI he was not involved in controversial changes to contractPheu Thai Party gubernatorial candidate Pol General Pongsapat Pongcharoen had no role in the alleged corruption scandal involving a contract to construct 396 police stations across the country, Department of Special Investigation director-general Tarit Pengdith said yesterday.
Tarit spoke after Pongsapat met investigators and submitted documents to support his denial of being involved in controversial changes made to the contract. Tarit said investigators found Pol Lt-General Theerayuth Kittiwat had been involved in drafting the terms of reference (ToR) for the new contract after the original one was scrapped.
The Royal Thai Police appointed Pongsapat to head the ToR committee on May 18, 2009. On May 29 of that year police chief Pol General Patcharawat Wongsuwan asked then prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to drop the plan to allow each region to carry out its own bidding and switch to a single bid covering the whole country. Then deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban approved the request on June 9, 2009.
In September 2009, the Royal Thai Police posted the ToR on the Comptroller General's Department's website. There was no criticism of the ToR, which were accepted. Then caretaker police chief Pol General Patheep Tanprasert reported this to the premier, and Suthep approved the project on November 20, 2009.
Tarit said Patheep, Patcharawat and subsequent chiefs Priewpan Damapong and Adul Saengsing-kaew, would be summoned to give statements.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said Pongsapat was able to defend himself against the allegation, adding that everything about the project would be checked.
Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said Tarit has been trying to drag him into the corruption allegations by saying there were complaints against the project on November 18, before Suthep approved it on November 20.
"How could the complaints have reached him within two days? As an investigator, [Tarit] should not have given a press interview.
"The project involved people linked to the government, but the DSI has not summoned them for investigation.'' Abhisit said said he would file a complaint with the National Anti-Corruption Commission against the DSI if the agency takes legal action against him and Suthep.
"It is not right for Tarit to claim that the contract was wrong without touching on those who managed the contract. If the contract was invalid, it must be cancelled, not renewed. Tarit said he knew that the construction company would abandon the work, but those involved must be prosecuted for dereliction of duty for not taking action,'' he said.
Pheu Thai spokesman Prompong Nopparit said Democrat spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut had launched a politically motivated attack against Pongsapat.
He accused Chavanond of distorting the truth and said the spokesman may have violated Article 57 of the Local Election and Executives of Local Governments Law.
Pheu Thai might file a complaint with the Election Commission, which could result in the Democrat Party being dissolved.