No progress on graft, says Sonthi
The man who oversaw the coup that ousted Thaksin Shinwatra's government six years ago today lamented yesterday that corruption - one of the reasons cited for the power seizure - was still a severe problem in the country.
General Sonthi Boonyaratglin, now leader of a small political party called Matubhum, said the five governments over the past six years had failed to tackle this problem.
"I believe all the governments are aware of this problem but nobody is serious about tackling it. This is why the country has not seen much development in democracy," he said.
In an exclusive interview on the eve of the 2006 coup's sixth anniversary, Sonthi said he was disappointed that the politicians had failed to put the corruption problem on the national agenda. He said the government should encourage the civil sector and the media to help with scrutiny so graft can be prevented.
He said corruption was one of the five reasons his National Security Council cited when it seized power from Thaksin. "Corruption is a big obstacle to democracy," he said.
Sonthi, who was Army chief when he led the coup, said his real intention was to "maintain the country's democracy and Constitution". As for the continuing conflict between the rival political colours, Sonthi said he felt the situation was worsening. He explained that politics was being influenced by politicians and parties' personal benefits, not democracy. However, he said, he did not think Thaksin was behind the conflict because "over the past few years he has been living in exile overseas, far away from Thailand".
Sonthi caused a stir in June when he proposed a reconciliation bill that critics said was aimed at whitewashing Thaksin's wrongdoings.