Outspoken Rak Thailand Party leader Chuvit Kamolvisit yesterday blamed the frequent derailment of trains in Thailand on railway tracks made of low-quality steel bought cheaply from China.
Transport Minister Chadchart Sittipunt and State Railway of Thailand (SRT) Governor Prapat Chongsanguan were also present at Chuvit’s press conference held at Parliament House.
At the conference, Chuvit also displayed the procurement contract signed with the company that built the tracks to back up his claim that it bought substandard steel.
He also showed reporters a video clip of the Chinese steel company’s laboratory, saying it was far too small and did not meet international standards.
Chuvit went on to say that the contractor had bought the steel for only Bt20,000 per tonne, when the kind of steel used in railway tracks costs at least Bt45,000 per tonne.
He also alleged that the contractor had charged the SRT for track ballast, but instead of supplying proper ballast, it simply used stones taken from the ground in areas where track was laid. He also put the frequent derailments of late down to the SRT’s practice of running trains non-stop, even while the tracks were undergoing repairs.
Chadchart, meanwhile, said he would have Prapat verify this information.
Strict law-enforcement needed
In a separate development, the Anti-Corruption Organisation of Thailand is pushing the government to bring wrongdoers to justice after the disappearance of Pracha Maleenont following his conviction for corruption in the purchase of fire-fighting vehicles.
Jada Watanasiritham, vice chairperson of the organisation, said Thailand’s judicial system and law-enforcement standards were inefficient and damaged the country, especially when the wrongdoers are politicians.
The government should ensure that all wrongdoers are prosecuted before the cases reach their statutory limits or it would further erode morale in Thai society, she said.
The organisation’s statement came after the court issued a verdict in the case related to the purchase of fire-fighting vehicles. Pracha, who was interior minister at the time, was sentenced to 12 years in jail for his role in the graft-tainted procurement of fire-fighting trucks and boats worth close to Bt7 billion.
Jada said that as a long-term means of fighting corruption, the government should ensure integrity in a systematic manner, as there are several ongoing government projects, such as the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority’s NGV bus project worth Bt13 billion, the Bt350-billion water-management scheme and the Bt2-trillion infrastructure project.
Public participation should be allowed in the formulation of public policies to help reduce corruption and cut down on losses. Jada said this was better than trying to fix the problem after it occurs.
The organisation has come up with seven measures to prevent corruption:
_ Public agencies and local administrative bodies need to disclose procurement projects to the public as well as broadcast auctions for mega-projects;
_ Tax measures and budget rules should be seriously enforced to control each government unit’s revenue and expenditure;
_ A scrutinising network should be set up and informants should be offered prizes. There should also be a system in place for witness protection;
_ Impose stricter penalties on government officials and extend the statutory limit;
_ Reform education and promote media investigation;
_ Encourage public scrutiny through measures such as public hearings; and
_ Impose a code of ethics in the public and private sectors.