Former deputy attorney-general Nate Naksuk's decision to apply for the position of anti-corruption commissioner has caused a stir, again. According to media reports, Nate was among three candidates seeking the graft-busting job.
Over the past few years, Mr Nate has been at the centre of controversy given his attempts to help acquit Vorayuth Yoovidhya in a fatal hit-and-run case back in 2012.
The acquittal was based on distorted evidence, a change in car speed at the time of the crash, and revised reports by the police that shifted the blame to the crash victim.
A public uproar prompted the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) to step back and launch a probe into Mr Nate, which last year found him guilty of gross negligence that damaged the OAG's reputation and authority under Sections 85 and 87 of the Civil Service Act.
Mr Nate paid the price for it: he was dismissed with a pension which was disproportionate to his guilt. But the OAG insisted on a light penalty on the basis of his unblemished track record.
The explanation upset the public. Exempting him from a harsh penalty meant he was still eligible, at least in his own mind, for top jobs like the one at the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC). It is the fourth time he has applied for this role.
While the public cannot accept the OAG's sympathy towards the wayward officer, he is the only public servant who has been punished in the case. A probe by former graft buster Vicha Mahakun suggested that dozens of officers, including several in the Royal Thai Police (RTP), were also involved.
Mr Vicha was appointed by Gen Prayut to head the probe team at a time when public anger over the whitewashing attempt was at its peak in 2022.
In fact, the probe team spurred public hope. It's a shame Gen Prayut, who oversees the RTP, has not released the results, and the corrupt officers named in the Vicha report remain free. Some are said to have been retired, while charges against the wealthy chief suspect expired one after another.
After the 2012 crash, a speeding charge against the Red Bull scion was dropped after its one-year statute of limitations expired in 2013, followed by another charge of failing to help a crash victim, which expired in 2017.
The only charge that remains valid is reckless driving causing death, which carries a penalty of up to 10 years in jail and has a 15-year statute of limitations. That will expire in 2027.
Gen Prayut last December caused raised eyebrows when he ordered the RTP to "find and arrest the fugitive". Such empty posturing, when no one has taken action against those named in the Vicha report, makes him look like a clown.
Obviously, the prime minister has no idea how much disappointment he has fostered in the Red Bull case.
That the case has dragged on until today without any significant action against the officers, and with the culprit still roaming freely, has made the public realise one thing -- that despite his enormous power, Gen Prayut lacks what it takes to right this wrong.