Several key figures involved in trying to fight corruption have spoken about the huge size and prevalence of the problem in Thailand and how to combat it, during a seminar organised by Krungthep Turakij and Now 26 digital TV channel yesterday.
Tortrakul Yomnak, a former president of the Engineering Institute of Thailand, said corruption was still flourishing with graft even easier now because there were no politicians from the opposition to probe irregularities.
He highlighted the Klong Dan wastewater treatment project as a testament to epic scale of graft and blamed the legal system for enabling criminals to dominate state officials. “In some places people only pin their hope on mafia to get things done,’’ he said.
Assoc Prof Dr Sirilaksana Khoman said Klong Dan was an example of a corruption network that involved local politicians, ministers, department chiefs, purchasing officials at all levels, the private sector, and foreign businesses who were duped to take part in the project. “Powerful politicians moved state officials who disagreed to proceed with the corruption out of their posts. Secretaries of high-ranking officials or politicians had earlier negotiated with businessmen, but now permanent officials at director-general level have taken up the negotiating,’’ she said.
Khunying Jaruvan Maintaka said corruption was a “tripartite” effort by the private sector, politicians and permanent officials. She said during her term as auditor-general graft cases she worked on and submitted to responsible agencies for prosecution were stalled till the statue of limitations on such crimes expired. “I wonder why there has been no people’s uprising against corruption even though we present such damning evidence,” she said.
Former Senator Kaewsan Atibhoti said public participation was needed to combat corruption. “As long as schools accept kickbacks from parents to enrol their children, corruption will prevail,” he said.
Office of Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) chief Prayong Preeyajit said to get graft under control, people involved must be severely punished to discourage others from committing such offences.
Anti-Money Laundering Office secretary-general Colonel Sihanat Prayoonrat said local government officials were believed to be more corrupt than previously. He called for check mechanisms in financial institutions to be strengthened to stop corruption. “As long as money has to circulate in the financial system, we can check for irregularities. Politicians must be subject to financial scrutiny at all times.”