July 07, 2014 00:00
By Piyanuch Thamnukasetchai
PRAYONG PREEYAJIT, the new boss appointed by the military to lead the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission [PACC], has vowed to show speedy progress in its probes, which have been criticised for taking too long.
“Criminal investigations in corruption cases have gone on for more than 10 years, which have rarely brought the perpetrators to justice. But the 69th order requires swift action by the heads of government offices in the early stages of the criminal conduct,” he said.
The 69th announcement of the National Council for Peace and Order would revolutionise corruption investigations, as it would separate the existing process from lengthy mainstream criminal investigations full of red tape, he said.
The announcement did not give a timeframe that the PACC may impose on state agencies, but Prayong said it should be 30 days. Agency heads must order inquiries in response to complaints, or even when suspicious activities begin to surface.
About 4,000 cases are stalled or pending further examination. But Prayong felt the 69th announcement could be vital in achieving headway on these, as PACC is a small organisation that has been overwhelmed by many large-scale problems.
The heads of agencies would be penalised if they failed to act within the 30-day deadline, or subjected to disciplinary or criminal investigation if PACC detects illegal activities into probes that report nothing wrong.
Prayong suggested a “spy project” could be set up to allow citizens and members of the public to play a role in complaints about corruption via social media, as well as monitoring and receiving complaints in the more than 9,000 tambons nationwide, besides via PACC’s 1206 hotline.
Citizens could provide real-time information when the PACC needs to double-check any facts cited by state agencies suspected of including false information into the claims for funds or project proposals.
The PACC was established in 2008 to counter corruption by junior officials in the central government or local administrative offices. It complements the work of the National Anti-Corruption Commission, which focuses on politicians and senior officials.
Prayong said the NCPO had not rushed him nor imposed a time limit for a first set of accomplishments.
“But I have three years left before retirement and I intend to do this job to the best of my ability,” he said.
The focus will be on several major problems – encroachment on forest reserves and state-owned land, widespread corruption within local administrative bodies and alleged cheating in anti-disaster projects by those bodies.
Another major concern is the forging of ID cards by district offices and local bodies. This was serious, as fake cards have been issued to fugitives from the law and operators of human trafficking rackets.
There are also many general cases awaiting attention, such as the smuggling of luxury cars. The PACC has asked the Customs Department to check 108 agents. Another concern is the large-scale project to procure insecticide for farmers in the Northeast.