'Boss' debacle damages govt

'Boss' debacle damages govt

The Prayut Chan-o-cha administration will have zero chance of restoring public trust in the justice system if it fails to prove its sincerity in solving the 2012 hit-and-run saga involving Vorayuth "Boss" Yoovidhya by taking action against officials who mishandled the case and stepping up the long-overdue justice reform process.

A fact-finding panel under former graftbuster Vicha Mahakun, who was picked by the PM, opened a can of worms when it exposed the extent of the intervention into the investigation process, which seemed to be aimed at whitewashing the entire affair.

Mr Vicha's panel did a great job in tracing the money trail and connections that shamefully favoured the culprit. Yet, even now, no one is certain those in the wrong will ever be punished.

The panel recommended the PM revive the investigation, punish those who had a hand in the irregularities with disciplinary action and to lay criminal charges. The panel also recommended an ethical probe into the delay and intentional derailment of the justice process. In addition, the panel wanted the report's details to be made public.

The panel pinpointed certain groups: police investigators, prosecutors, their supervisors, members of the military-appointed National Legislative Assembly (NLA), lawyers and witnesses who gave false testimony.

It should be noted that at this stage, the public has lost confidence in the government, which has yet to act against those who were found to be in the wrong, even after the Vicha panel released its findings and recommendations.

It doesn't help matters that individuals who were found to have helped the wealthy culprit are heads of organisations, most of whom are top mandarins whose duty is to uphold the rule of law. Their misconduct has shown that Thai law enforcement agencies are nothing but paper tigers.

The Royal Thai Police, for one, is a problem in itself. It is apparent that the police are not treating the debacle seriously. Once public attention fades, officers who were penalised for obstructing the investigation will undoubtedly make a comeback, or even be promoted.

The saga speaks volumes about how the RTP is in dire need of reform.

The lack of progress, the reasons for which haven't been relayed to the public, serves to cast further doubt on the process. If there is room for such intervention and it is allowed to continue, there will be "Boss II" and the arms of justice won't be able reach those in the aforementioned groups. The inexplicable delay gives every reason for the public to feel anxious.

There are signs that the government is feeling the heat. Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said earlier this week a seven-day deadline has been set for state agencies involved to report back to him what they have done in the case.

So what? Most of the agencies he was referring to had a part in the wealthy scion's escape from justice. The authorities' handling (or rather, mishandling) of the Boss saga was just a knee-jerk reaction and the roots of the problem remain untouched. What a shame.

The public is expecting the unscrupulous officials to at least be punished and the saga to lead to an overhaul of the justice system. Anything less would simply not be acceptable.

Editorial

Bangkok Post editorial column

These editorials represent Bangkok Post thoughts about current issues and situations.

Email : ploenpotea@bangkokpost.co.th


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