Despite pressure, Udomdej says he's not quitting (Updated)

Despite pressure, Udomdej says he's not quitting (Updated)

There is now direct pressure on Deputy Defence Minister and former army commander General Udomdej Sitabutr to quit and try to relieve pressure on the government over the growing Rajabhakti Park corruption scandal. PATIPAT JANTHONG
There is now direct pressure on Deputy Defence Minister and former army commander General Udomdej Sitabutr to quit and try to relieve pressure on the government over the growing Rajabhakti Park corruption scandal. PATIPAT JANTHONG

Gen Udomdej Sitabutr insists he will stay on as deputy defence minister despite growing pressure for him to resign over the Rajabhakti Park controversy.

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Noon update

Wassana Nanuam has this update to this morning's story:

Udomdej insists he won't resign

Gen Udomdej Sitabutr insists he will stay on as deputy defence minister despite growing pressure for him to resign over the Rajabhakti Park controversy.

Speaking before Tuesday's cabinet meeting, Gen Udomdej said he would rather not comment on allegations that the Rajabhakti Park project – which he initiated while serving as army chieflacked transparency and was plagued with irregularities.

"The Defence Ministry has set up a committee to investigate.  Let's wait for the committee to finish its work," he said.

Gen Udomdej insisted that the project had been carried out with transparency.  Every step of the implementation of the project was closely supervised by a committee whose members had a strong intention of making it a national treasure – for the Thai people, or even foreigners, to remember the benevolence of the past Thai kings.

The former army chief called for the media to avoid making unjust and false criticism, as it would only discourage all the well-intended officials involved in the project.

Gen Udomdej said he was now awaiting the result of the investigation by the Defence Ministry-appointed committee, and welcomed any further inquries, possibly by the Office of the Auditor-General and the National Anti-Corruption Commission.

He believed the defence committee probe would include all details about the project's funding and expenditures as well as other issues under suspicion. He would not interfere in the work of the investigation committee.

Gen Udomdej said he would remain in the cabinet while the committee was investigating.

"The prime minister has stressed that we need not worry and continue to do our jobs. He said when the time comes everybody must go.

"During this time, I will continue to work.  But I want to make it clear that I have never wanted to cling on to this position for a long time. I will stay on for only as long as necessary," Gen Udomdej said.

Morning story

Pressure mounts on Udomdej to quit

Wassana Nanuam
Aekarach Sattaburuth

Deputy Defence Minister Udomdej Sitabutr is coming under growing pressure to step down despite the army making efforts to clear him of any allegations surrounding the Rajabhakti Park project.

Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon said the former army chief is a grown man and should know the best course of action to take without waiting for a signal from the government.

"He's a grown man and he can think for himself. He served as an army commander. There's no need for me to tell him what to do," he said.

Gen Prawit's comments, the first since the corruption allegations in the Rajabhakti Park project surfaced, are being seen by political observers as a signal for Gen Udomdej – who as then army chief was responsible for the Rajabhakti Park project – to act.

They come as Adm Phajun Tampratheep, former close aide to Privy Council president Prem Tinsulanonda, said he would step down if he was in Gen Udomdej's shoes, even if he had nothing to do with the alleged irregularities.

"It's about maturity. Some people think allegations do not reach them [and there's no need to take action].

"I'm not talking about political responsibility. It's about taking responsibility for your job. It takes courage. It's time this kind of thing happened in our society," he said.

Gen Udomdej, also chairman of the Rajabhakti Park Foundation, earlier admitted that an amulet trader had demanded commission fees from foundries contracted to cast the statues of former kings at Rajabhakti Park.

Deputy Defence Minister Udomdej Sitabutr presided over a religious ceremony at the new Rajabhakti Park last September.

Moreover, his former close aides, Khachachart Boondee who was stripped of his army rank, and Maj Gen Suchart Prommai, face arrest warrants in connection with a high-profile lese majeste case.

Gen Prawit has ordered a fresh probe into alleged corruption in the construction of the park, but Adm Phajun said if the results turn out the same as the army's internal one they would be useless.

The Defence Ministry inquiry is headed by deputy permanent secretary for defence Gen Chaicharn Changmongkol. Any irregularities will be forwarded to the National Anti-Corruption Commission and the Office of the Auditor-General.

A source at the Defence Ministry said Gen Udomdej is waiting for the results of the Chaicharn committee probe before making a decision on whether to step down.

Justice Minister Paiboon Koomchaya admitted the alleged irregularities surrounding the park had had an impact on the government's credibility.

"We can't say it hasn't had an effect because political groups are coming out [to criticise]. We need to listen closely to what they are saying and what they are getting at. I've been saying it's not what they are trying to make it appear," he said. 

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Vocabulary

  • admitted (verb): agreed that something is true, especially when you are unhappy, sorry or surprised about it - ยอมรับ
  • aide: someone whose job is to help another person in their work - ผู้ช่วย
  • allegations (noun): accusations - ข้อกล่าวหา
  • alleged: claimed to be true although not yet proven; claimed to have done something wrong but not yet proven - ที่ถูกกล่าวหา
  • amulet: a small object that some people wear around their neck as a protection against evil, bad luck, disease etc - เครื่องราง
  • appear: to seem - ดูเหมือนจะ, ดูเหมือนว่า
  • arrest warrant: a document signed by a judge allowing police to arrest someone - หมายจับ
  • Auditor-General (noun): a high-ranking government official responsible for auditing (checking the use of money by) government departments - ผู้อำนวยการสำนักงานตรวจเงินแผ่นดิน
  • benevolence (noun): the quality of being kind, helpful and generous - ความเมตตากรุณา
  • cabinet: the group of government ministers who make and approve government policy - คณะรัฐมนตรี
  • ceremony (noun): a formal public event - งานพิธี
  • chairman: the person in charge of a committee, a company, etc - ประธาน
  • chief: a person with a high rank or the highest rank in a company or an organisation - หัวหน้า, ผู้นำ
  • cling: to hold on to something tightly - ติดแน่น
  • commander: the head of an army or army unit - ผู้บังคับบัญชา
  • commission: an amount of money that is paid to somebody for selling goods and which increases with the amount of goods that are sold - ค่านายหน้า, ค่าคอมมิชชั่น
  • construction: the work of building or making something, especially buildings, bridges, etc. - การก่อสร้าง
  • contracted (verb): paid to do work for another person, organisation, company, etc. รับเหมา - รับเหมา
  • controversy: a disagreement that a lot of people have strong feelings about - ความขัดแย้ง
  • courage (noun): the ability to do something that you know is right or good, even though it is dangerous, frightening, or very difficult - ความกล้าหาญ
  • credibility: the degree to which something can be believed or trusted - ความน่าเชื่อถือ,ความน่าไว้วางใจ
  • criticise: to say that you disapprove of somebody/something; to say what you do not like or think is wrong about somebody/something - วิจารณ์, ติเตียน,จับผิด
  • Defence Minister: the person in the cabinet in charge of the Ministry of Defence which oversees the armed forces - รัฐมนตรีว่าการกระทรวงกลาโหม
  • deputy: a person whose rank is immediately below that of the leader of an organisation - รอง
  • discourage: to make someone feel like something should not be done - ทำให้ไม่อยาก (ทำสิ่งใดสิ่งหนึ่ง)
  • expenditure: money spent by a government, organization, or person - การใช้จ่าย (เงิน)
  • fee: an amount of money that you pay to be allowed to do something - ค่าธรรมเนียม
  • former: of or in an earlier time; before the present time or in the past - อดีต, แต่ก่อน
  • forward: to send onwards - ส่งต่อ
  • foundry: a factory where metal or glass is melted and made into different shapes or objects - โรงหล่อ
  • funding: money given for a particular purpose - การให้เงินสนับสนุน
  • high-profile (adj): creating a lot of public attention - เป็นที่สนใจจากคนในสังคม
  • impact (noun): an effect or influence - ผลกระทบ
  • implementation: the process of making something such as a plan, system, idea or law start to work and be used - การบังคับใช้ (กฎหมาย)
  • in someone's shoes (idiom): to be in, or imagine that you are in, another person’s situation, especially when it is an unpleasant or difficult one - ในสถานการณ์เดียวกัน
  • initiate: to make something start - ริเริ่ม
  • inquiry: an official examination of a problem, crime,  accident, etc. in order to get information or the truth - การไต่สวนหาข้อเท็จจริง การไต่สวน
  • insist: to keep saying very firmly that something is true - ยืนกราน ยืนยัน
  • intention: a plan in your mind to do something - ความตั้งใจ เจตนา แผนการ
  • interfere: to deliberately become involved in a situation and try to influence the way that it develops, although you have no right to do this - แทรกแซง
  • internal: existing or happening inside a person, object, organisation, place or country - ภายใน
  • involved (verb): taking part or having a role in something - เกี่ยวข้อง, มีบทบาท
  • irregularity: a situation in which the rules, laws, or usual ways of doing things have not been followed - การปฏิบัติที่ไม่เป็นไปตามระเบียบปกติ
  • Justice Minister (noun): The minister who heads the Ministry of Justice - รัฐมนตรีว่าการกระทรวงกระทรวงยุติธรรม
  • lack (verb): to not have something - ขาด
  • lese majeste: the crime of offending, threatening or showing disrespect for a member of the royal family - หมิ่นพระบรมเดชานุภาพ
  • maturity (noun): the state of being fully grown or developed; the quality of thinking and behaving in a sensible, adult manner - ความเป็นผู้ใหญ่, การโตเต็มวัย
  • moreover (adv): in addition; furthermore - ยิ่งกว่านั้น, จากนั้น
  • mount: to increase - เพิ่มขึ้น
  • National Anti-Corruption Commission: An independent government organisation to investigate corruption carried out by government officials - ปปช. (สำนักคณะกรรมการป้องกันและปราบปรามการทุจริตแห่งชาติ)
  • observer: a person who watches and analyses a situation - ผู้สังเกตการณ์
  • permanent secretary: a government official, not a political appointee, in charge of a ministry - ปลัดกระทรวง
  • position: a job - ตำแหน่ง
  • preside: to be in charge of an official meeting, ceremony or other event - เป็นประธาน ในพิธี ในที่ประชุม
  • pressure: a worried feeling that you get when you have to deal with a difficult or complicated situation - ความกดดัน
  • Privy Council: the group of appointed advisors to the King of Thailand - สภาองคมนตรีไทย
  • probe: an investigation - การสอบสวน
  • project: a planned piece of work that is designed to find information about something, to produce something new, or to improve something - โครงการ
  • rank: someone’s official position in the armed forces, police, fire services, etc. - ยศ, ตำแหน่ง
  • religious (adj.): relating to religion, or to the beliefs and practices of a particular religion - เกี่ยวกับศาสนา
  • resign: to leave a job permanently - ลาออกจากตำแหน่ง
  • responsibility: a duty; a duty to deal with or take care of somebody/something, so that you may be blamed if something goes wrong - ความรับผิดชอบ
  • responsible for: to have a duty to do something - มีความรับผิดชอบ
  • signal: a sign that something exists or is likely to happen - สัญญาณ
  • society (noun): people in general, living together in communities - สังคม
  • source: someone who gives information - แหล่งข่าว
  • statues: human or animal images that are made of stone, wood, metal, etc. - รูปปั้น
  • stress: to emphasise something; to say that something is important - เน้นย้ำ
  • stripped: to take something away from someone - ถอน, ยึด
  • supervised: overseen; watched over to ensure that things are done correctly - อยู่ในการควบคุมดูแล
  • surface: to become known or seen - เป็นที่รู้, ปรากฏ, เปิดเผย
  • surrounding: to be closely connected with a situation or an event - เชื่อมต่อกัน เกี่ยวข้องกับ
  • suspicion: a feeling that something bad is probably true or likely to happen - ความสงสัย
  • trader: someone who buys and sells things - ผู้ค้า
  • transparency: an honest way of doing things that allows other people to know exactly what you are doing - ความโปร่งใส
  • treasure: something very valuable - ของมีค่า
  • unjust: not fair or reasonable - ไม่ยุติธรรม
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