Sukhumbhand will quit today
DSI probe is not a corruption case, Abhisit saysBangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra will submit his resignation today and it will take effect tomorrow after he acknowledges charges of approving a 30-year hire contract for BTSC without due authority, according to Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva. BTSC is the operator of the current Skytrain system.
The Department of Special Investigation (DSI), meanwhile, is looking into not just the 30-year hire contract but also the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) decisions to build three Skytrain extension routes on grounds that the decision-making right might have belonged to the Interior minister.
If convicted, Sukhumbhand faces up to one year in jail and a fine of up to Bt20,000.
"The punishment may be light. But if it goes to the Civil Court, the amount discussed in court can be in the tune of up to Bt200 billion," Pol Lt Colonel Thawan Mangkang said in his capacity as lead investigator into the case against the BMA over Skytrain contracts.
Abhisit said Sukhumbhand should have no problem contesting his re-election because the incumbent governor was not accused of graft or malfeasance, but only of approving the BTS extension contract without due authority.
He said Sukhumbhand's resignation would take effect a day before he completes his term.
The governor decided to resign before completing his term so the new Bangkok governor election is held two months later to make the race fair to all sides, Abhisit said.
"We want the election to be fair without Sukhumbhand holding office," Abhisit said.
The DSI has summoned tomorrow Sukhumbhand, eight other executives of the BMA and representatives of Krungthep Thanakom (KT) - BMA's investment arm - and BTSC - to face charges related to the alleged irregularities in the 30-year hire contract for managing the Skytrain services.
The DSI alleged the BMA practically extended the concession of the BTSC without first seeking approval from the Interior minister, but the BMA argues that it simply hired the BTSC to operate the services without extending the original concession.
Sukhumbahand was elected as Bangkok governor after Apirak Kosayothin, now a Democrat MP, stepped down four years ago.
BMA Deputy Governor Teerachon Manomaipibul said he yesterday filed a complaint with the Office of the Ombudsman, calling for an investigation into DSI chief Tarit Pengdith.
Teerachon alleged Tharit had no authority to conduct an inquiry into the BMA, KT and BTSC over the BTS service extension - and that Tharit violated Articles 157 and 200 of the Criminal Code.
Teerachon denied the BMA had once sought the Interior |minister's approval for the |Silom-Taksin Bridge-Bang Wa BTS route as claimed by Tharit. He said the BMA simply told the interior minister it would reclaim its assets to facilitate the BTS extension.
Thawan said if Teerachon did not respond to the summons, the DSI would seek an arrest warrant for him.