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Drastic steps offered to fight graft

DEATH sentence for the crime of corruption, speedy handling of graft cases and removal of all senior officials after the caretaker Yingluck Shinawatra administration is ousted - these are the proposals made at the second of a scheduled six rounds of the national reform forum organised by the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) yesterday.

The second round of the forum was focused on corruption and was chaired by Poldej Pinprateep, a former Cabinet member under the junta-appointed Surayud Chulanont administration.

Poldej suggested it was imperative to transfer all senior government officials when Yingluck was deposed because they were all appointed by the PM and her associates.

The forum touched upon corruption in both private and public sectors, warning of the culture of patronage and debts of honour which led to much corruption in Thai society.

Many speakers called for greater transparency for government projects, and assets declaration by politicians as well as senior government officials.

Anti-corruption campaigner Tor-trakul Yomnak was one of the seven main speakers chosen by the PDRC to speak for 10 minutes each. He said those found guilty of corruption should be swiftly punished while the public should play a greater role in stemming corrupt practices.

Tortrakul said he was confident anti-corruption activities would soon become successful as many people had expressed their opposition to it. "I am sure that 10 to 20 millions are watching [what I am saying through] Blue Sky TV," he added.

Rattapong Sornsuphab, dean of the College of Social Innovation at Rangsit University said corruption related to populist policy must be tackled, while greater support must be given for corruption-prevention campaigns.

On the cultural side, former law lecturer at Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University Komsarn Pokong, said bribery started at home in some families where fathers might bribe their children not to tell their mother what the father had been up to.

"We don't see a patronage system as corruption, but in many countries they do," said Komsarn.

Former senator Chirmsak Pinthong said the notion of "debt of honour" could easily be manipulated to facilitate graft as people sought to return favours. He blamed the "Thaksin regime" for the worst distortion of graft-related policy.

Suggestions from the public participants ranged from introducing death penalty for those guilty of corruption, preparing a new unelected PM to replace Yingluck, and tackling corruption and placing the burden of proof for those accused of corruption on the accused themselves.




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