April 06, 2014 00:00 By Chanikarn Phumhiran
Anti-graft agency member warns of links with international crime syndicates, severe problems and limits on fighting graft
Thailand’s entire legal system should be revamped as its corruption problems have links to international crime networks and the laws limit the ability to eradicate graft, National Anti-Corruption Commission member Vicha Mahakun said yesterday.
He said the problems are so severe that they could affect the country’s survival.
He was speaking at Thammasat University, at a function to mark Sanya Dharmasakti Day.
Vicha, who was appointed to the position by the coup-makers in 2006, said that he did not realise initially how severe the problem was.
“There are many cases where I have found connections outside the country. Assets were transferred and linked to international crime networks. This is the most serious, but governments so far have not been able to deal with them due to the limitations of our laws. We need to revamp the whole legal system,” he said.
Vicha cited comments by foreigners that Thailand’s international ranking is low because of the patronage system, which influences the selection of administrators, including government officials. He said reforms are not only for Thailand but should be for the whole world, which now agrees that bad people must be eradicated from the system.
“You can’t say that [a bad government] will stay for four years only. It won’t go as it has already put its men in the system,” he said.
Vicha, who heads an NACC committee investigating the government’s rice-pledging scheme, said Thailand Development Research Institute had done a research into the scheme two years ago and had warned the government to stop the programme to prevent further loss.
“The research said [the rice-pledging scheme] would bring to an end [development of] rice production. Farmers will be stuck and short of money because the Bt200 billion revolving fund from the government’s annual budget would be turned into the hands of companies or businessmen with deliberate plans. Only a small budget would reach the farmers,” he said.
He said that instead of focusing on production of good rice and rice breed development, farmers would focus on getting Bt15,000 per tonne, the highest price set for the pledged rice, as the government accepted rice in any condition under the scheme. This meant that the quality of the rice paddy might be overlooked. He also pointed to the missing 2 million tonnes of rice from the government’s silo since 2012 as another problem in the scheme.