NACC calls for society-wide anti-graft fight

The fight against corruption should begin in childhood, a seminar was told yesterday.

"We cannot instill a sense of responsibility in a person once they reach adulthood," National Anti-Corruption Commission member Vicha Mahakhun said.

"Look at Japan - they educate children in kindergarten that [the nation] belongs to them so they all need to work together to care for what is theirs. Therefore, they think of what benefits the community rather than themselves," Mr Vicha said.

The seminar marked the 15th anniversary of the establishment of charter-mandated independent organisations to battle graft.

"Everyone, particularly the private sector, needs to help fight corruption," Mr Vicha said.

Independent organisations do not have absolute power in combating corruption, he said.

Pisit Leelawatcharopas, adviser to the auditor-general, said commission rates ranging from 5% to 30% of a project's value which bidders have to pay politicians or officials for state contracts result in poor-quality work and services.

Mr Pisit called for tough monitoring and surveillance similar to that carried out to counter money laundering to be applied in the government sector.

He said bidders were increasingly trying to monopolise state sector contracts by clearly colluding with politicians.

"Private sector cooperation is necessary as technical bidding specifications become more complicated," Mr Pisit said.

One example where state funding was exploited was a development project at Sa-Ngam pass in Si Sa Ket province which cost over 2 billion baht, he said.

Mr Pisit also cited the case of a province exploiting a loophole by seeking two separate disaster compensation claims of less than 50 million baht from the government. Regulations cap disaster relief for each province at 50 million baht.

In another case, a pesticide contract bid reached 7 billion baht despite the fact that the actual price was only 300 million baht, Mr Pisit said.

He also said costs surrounding the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration's proposed skywalk project were too steep.

Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, Thai Summit Autoparts Industry Co executive vice-president, questioned whether any independent organisations could bring high-profile and influential figures who commit corruption to book.

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Writer: ACHARA ASHAYAGACHAT