NACC's hasty move in rice scandal a sop to opposition: PM

national February 21, 2014 00:00

By The Nation

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Caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra yesterday hit back at the anti-graft agency, accusing it of rushing a decision to charge her with dereliction of duty in connection with the rice-pledging scheme.

 She says the agency's move was in line with a desire by "people who want to bring down the government".

“I reaffirm that I am innocent of the accusations made by the National Anti-Corruption Commission,” Yingluck said on her Facebook page and added she was ready to prove that.

“Even though I am accused of criminal charges and face removal [from office], as per the wishes of people who want to overthrow the government, I am willing to cooperate to establish the facts.”
She said she had always been committed to serving Thais with honesty, integrity and her utmost efforts. 
“I shall therefore not let them down, particularly regarding my responsibility to protect the interests of the Thai people and uphold our democratic system with His Majesty the King as head of state.” She said the NACC had confirmed she would be accorded full rights and treated fairly and transparently.
As chairwoman of the National Rice Policy Committee, Yingluck said she was responsible for policy-making, while implementation of the scheme was by government agencies under her policy directions.
“The bureaucratic system has its own standards and regulations, so my work at the policy level does not have the authority to directly operate, order or overrule the work of government officials in any way.”
The execution of the projects were to be in line with Cabinet resolutions and based on government policy. 
“I have always been aware that government work and private-sector work must be based on such principles and with a clear delegation of duties so that there is accountability in all issues and accountability in each procedure.” She said accusations had been levelled against her even though she had not been involved at the operating level. 
Yingluck said she had submitted two official petitions to the NACC on February 11 for the commission to replace Professor Vicha Mahakun with a new member. She had not been informed about the status of the request. However on Tuesday, the NACC announced the charges and informed her she would be summoned to hear them on February 27.
“This period seems very short for the NACC to investigate a political case. It has never happened before,” she said.
Vicha, who is in charge of the case, declined to comment on Yingluck’s statement, saying he would speak at a press conference later.
The prime minister also noted that a cabinet member in the last government was charged with many counts of corruption, including some related to that government’s rice insurance scheme. However, there had been no judicial development in that particular case, while it had taken only 21 days to investigate and bring charges against her. 
“I wish to prove once again that the scheme will definitely be beneficial to farmers...
“More important, if there were indeed true justice without any hidden agenda, the NACC would not have investigated in such a hurry and delivered a judgement in a manner that has allowed society to deem it as beneficial only to those who want to topple the government.”

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