Graft ranking needs rethink
The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) seems to have repeated the same mistakes of 2019 when it released its annual Integrity and Transparency (IAT) ranking for government agencies, state enterprises and independent bodies for this year.
The agencies which received an "A" ranking -- with marks higher than 85 out of 100 points -- were all branches of the military and the three courts, namely the Administrative Court, Court of Justice and the Constitutional Court, local media reported.
Independent bodies which share the courts and military branches' top ranking include the Election Commission, as well as the NACC itself. That the EC received high IAT scores seems inconsistent with the fact that the agency has far too often attracted public complaints. Its recent decision to let off 31 "minnow" parties accused of taking illegal loans from their party leaders is still clouded with suspicion, especially when compared to the drastic action it recommended against the now-dissolved Future Forward Party.
The NACC is by no means totally unblemished. As it is closely linked to the powers-that-be, the agency has found it difficult to shake off concerns about its credibility.
This year, the army scored 93.88 out of 100, compared to 97.96 last year. It trailed behind the air force, which received 93.98. The navy, which has been in hot water over the controversial submarine purchase, came fourth among the military agencies, at 92.60.
Meanwhile, among the agencies which were poorly rated were the Royal Thai Police (83.95), the Office of the Attorney General (71.30, down from last year's 90.61) -- the two main agencies at the centre of criticism surrounding the mishandling the infamous hit-and-run case involving Vorayuth Yoovidhya.
The "A" ranking for the army has also raised the public's eyebrows, which is unsurprising considering it is embroiled in two major graft scandals in which it has found it difficult to clear itself.
The first was the mass shooting by a soldier in which dozens of innocent shoppers in Nakhon Ratchasima were killed. The army has tried to reduce the incident to a personal conflict between the soldier and his supervisor over an army housing project for rank-and-file soldiers, instead of expanding the investigation to determine if graft is a structural problem that involves those higher up in the chain of command.
The other involves Sgt Narongchai Intharakawee, a whistleblower who once worked as a budget clerk at the Army's Ordnance Department. He claimed his name appeared on a list of people who received travelling allowances for a number of multi-year projects which he knew nothing about.
He naively filed a report with his superior and quickly found himself being confronted by his senior officer, who tried to co-opt him, before threatening him. His attempts to file a complaint -- three times in total -- on a hotline set up by army chief Gen Apirat Kongsompong were futile. He felt unsafe working in the same unit as the senior officer, but his transfer request was turned down. At one point, he stopped going to work. The army then charged him with desertion, before insisting an investigation be launched into his claim. The public was not informed of the probe results, if there were any.
These are just a few among many examples of graft which the IAT ranking seems to ignore. As long as these remain embedded in public memory, the public is right in questioning the ranking process.
Bangkok Post editorial column
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