Government questions Supa's 'agenda'

Rice whistleblower, law reform commission head accused of opposition collusion

The Pheu Thai Party yesterday accused deputy permanent secretary for finance Supa Piyajitti and Law Reform Commission of Thailand chairman Kanit na Nakorn of working with the opposition to undermine the government.

Deputy Pheu Thai spokesman Anusorn Iamsa-ard said recent comments by Ms Supa and the LRCT chairman raised questions about their political agenda.

"The public is sceptical about [Ms Supa's] role. Is she up to her job as a state official, or does she have a political agenda?" he said. Mr Anusorn was referring to Ms Supa's statement given to a Senate committee about alleged corruption in the rice-pledging scheme.

Ms Supa, who heads a Finance Ministry subcommittee assessing the accounts of the government's rice-pledging programme, reportedly told the panel that there was graft at every step of the scheme.

However, Ms Supa later claimed she was misquoted and said she told the committee that the rice scheme was "at risk of corruption at every step of the process" because it involved as many as 10 agencies, mainly from the agriculture and commerce ministries.

Mr Anusorn said Ms Supa should have gone to the government with any information about graft as soon as she learned of it. Instead, she went public with information which had not been verified.

The Pheu Thai deputy spokesman also questioned the timing of Mr Kanit's comments about the two trillion baht borrowing bill. Mr Kanit claimed the government's bill was unconstitutional.

Mr Anusorn said the claim came at a time when the Democrat Party was seeking to oust the cabinet.

He rejected Mr Kanit's warning, saying the borrowed money was not state funds because it was for a specific investment and its spending would be scrutinised by parliament.

"I wonder why Mr Kanit, whose job concerns law reform, chose to comment on the bill when doing so would aggravate the political situation," Mr Anusorn said.

According to Mr Kanit, the bill would enable the Finance Ministry to take out a loan, and the borrowed money would be considered state money. As state money, the two trillion baht must be spent in compliance with the constitution.

Democrat MP Ong-art Klampaibul yesterday urged the government to take heed of Mr Kanit's warning.

He said the government's critics were not opposed to investment schemes that would boost the country's development and competitiveness.

However, they were concerned that the government's rush to spend state money could be unconstitutional and lead to corruption.

Meanwhile, Noppadon Pattama, a close aide of ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, said the ex-premier's focus was on water and flood management and infrastructure investment schemes.

He said Thaksin wanted Pheu Thai MPs to push for the two schemes as he was concerned that there were attempts to block the two projects which would be a setback for the country.

Mr Noppadon also urged those involved in the "ice cream gang" row to stop talking, saying trading heated words did no good to anyone because they were in the same party.

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Writer: Aekarach Sattaburuth
Position: Reporter