Wichean to testify over stalled police-station project
Former police chief General Wichean Potephosree will provide his testimony in relation to the much-delayed 396 police-station construction project in front of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) today.
Thanin Prempree, DSI Bureau of Special Crime 2 deputy director, said yesterday that Wichean led the agency when this project was proposed for then-deputy PM Suthep Thaugsuban's okay to hire PCC Development and Construction Co.
Thanin said Pol General Patcharawat Wongsuwan and Pol General Pateep Tanprasert had already clarified their roles in the project, especially Pateep, who explained why the construction of 396 police-station buildings were merged into a single contract. He said investigators were finding out if the process was legal and would consider Pateep's testimony that the delay might have come from contract-management problems.
Deputy PM Chalerm Yoobumrung said the "corrupt" project had been in operation since Suthep was in charge of police affairs. He said the project was approved on June 9, 2009 for bids in nine police regions, but it was merged into a single contract on November 20, 2009, despite eight companies' objection citing a breach of the Public-Private Joint Venture Act.
Chalerm said General Pongsapat Pongcharoen was only involved in writing terms of reference for separate contracts. "Policemen told me that evil politicians made them merge the projects," he said. He added that cancelling the contract before the end of term could lead to lawsuits, so he has waited before filing a lawsuit against PCC for fraud and corruption.
Chalerm told the House session yesterday that the contract had been hurriedly merged because people wanted to pocket the 15-per-cent advance payment worth Bt800 million, and the contractor paid many people so it had no money to complete the construction.
Rak Thailand Party MP Chuwit Kamolvisit, meanwhile, voiced doubts about the extension of the project signed on November 7, 2012 because it did not follow the Cabinet's conditions to help contractors in the then-flooded South, but applied the PM's Office regulation on procurement and hiring 1992. He said this favoured the contractor and did not earn the government the Bt5.8-million-per-day fine for delays.