Graft fight tools needed

Graft fight tools needed

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha's welcome and strong anti-corruption words must be backed by action, for as Confucius said, "The superior man is modest in his speech, but exceeds in his actions". Gen Prayut states, "Thai people must reject and no longer tolerate any kind of corruption. .. if all parties help one another to fight against it …we can do it."

But concrete action is needed to back up his words. For example, as Anti-Corruption Organisation of Thailand Secretary-General Mana Nimitmongkol points out, the anti-corruption organic law, now in the National Legislative Assembly (NLA), has a fatal flaw: it requires the National Anti-Corruption Commission to publish only summaries of asset declarations of those in power. Having just a summary will make it extremely difficult for the public to spot possible corruption, as with Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon's 3-12 million-baht watch and 4-million-baht diamond ring. Transparency is vital to fighting corruption, and Gen Prayut should tell us and the NLA loud and clear that asset declarations must be made public in their detailed entirety.

As for Gen Prawit's watch and ring, we're sure, of course, that the deputy premier is honest. But if, for example, a businessman friend lent him the watch as it was said, that's a massive favour. What are the business and personal connections between the two persons -- and were any transactions or favours done at arm's length, transparently, on the open market? What future transactions might be coming up, where the favour might be returned? To make the NACC's investigation into the provenance of Gen Prawit's valuables transparent and credible, neutral, impartial bodies should sit on the committee, eg, ACT secretary-general Mana and the Department of Special Investigation.

Gen Prayut, be Confucius' superior man, and give us the tools to fight this scourge.

Burin Kantabutra


Elaborating on Surin

Kavi Chongkittavorn's Dec 8 article, "Surin was Asean's de facto foreign minister", needs to be corrected and elaborated on.

1. Former premier Thaksin Shinawatra's decision to nominate Surakiart Sathirathai as Thai candidate for the UNSG position came many years after Surin Pitsuwan became Asean secretary-general. It was more a case of Thaksin getting rid of Mr Surakiart from the Thai MFA.

2. Surin was not really the Thai MFA's choice for the Asean secretary-general position, but PM Surayud Chulanond's choice.

3. In 2001, I was still our permanent representative at the UN in New York. Some moderate Arab countries urged me to suggest that Bangkok formally declare Surin's candidacy. I called Surin to inform him of this view, but he replied that Chuan Leekpai (then Democrat party leader) was reluctant. In any case, besides Mr Chuan's usual caution, from New York it was easy to understand the thinking that would likely influence the secretary-general election. First, the Democrats had lost the US election; so Surin's strong support (Madeleine Albright) had gone. Second, although Africa had already served its two terms, one for Boutros Boutros-Ghali, and the other for Kofi Annan, that did not mean Mr Annan would automatically be denied a second term as the US was satisfied with him and the Africans as a group were strongly supporting him. I was surprised why Kavi wrote France supported Surin because France would normally support her Francophone group, and France also demanded the new secretary-general should speak French. Third, the moderate Arab states were few in number and not important enough to be swing votes. The most important factor was probably Asia did not have clear strong candidates. This last reason made it hard for both China and Russia to support him.

4. The last point I should mention about Surin is that after this experience, he was still interested in a UN job, the Human Rights Commission. As an Asian politician, he was considered liberal enough to be interested in such a job. The position cannot be blocked by a big-five veto like the UNSG position, but Western democracies seem to be more influential. According to my American sources, Surin was judged to be a fence-sitter, ie liberal but not liberal enough. May be this was a little unfair, but even Mary Robinson did not last as long as many people had expected.

Asda Jayanama


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