Time to end watch saga
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Time to end watch saga

Even after five years, the expensive wristwatches that Gen Prawit Wongsuwon claimed were borrowed from his friend continue to haunt the deputy prime minister's political career, as well as the National Anti-Corruption Commission.

The case saw Gen Prawit accused of filing a false asset declaration prior to assuming his post because he did not include the various rings and luxury watches he had been seen wearing in public, which were estimated to be worth over 30 million baht, in his declaration.

Faced with the allegation, Gen Prawit claimed the watches belonged to a late friend, while the rings were given to him by his mother. He defended his action, stating there was no need to declare fashion accessories.

On Friday, the Supreme Administrative Court ordered the anti-graft agency to disclose the details of its investigation, saying it must report the results of its probe to Veera Somkwamkid, the head of the Anti-Corruption People's Network.

The court effectively ruled in Mr Veera's favour because in 2018, the NACC said there were no grounds for the accusation. The new information could prove to be a ticking time-bomb that could harm the Palang Pracharath Party's election campaign.

The NACC is expected to reveal the information is May 5. So far, Gen Prawit has responded well to the situation. "Indeed, I have always wanted the information to be revealed. Only then will the public know what actually happened," he said.

The NACC, unsurprisingly, has shown its reluctance to carry out the Supreme Administrative Court's order. Niwatchai Kasemmongkol, the NACC secretary-general, said the agency might have to ask the Constitutional Court to weigh in on the matter.

It is not the first time the NACC has used the excuse to not follow the Administrative Court's order to reveal the results of its investigation into Gen's Prawit's wristwatches.

In September 2021, the Administrative Court ordered the NACC to publish a summary of its probe into the luxury watches, as well as evidence and documents compiled by its inquiry panel and Gen Prawit's testimony.

Even after the Administrative Court agreed that information pertaining to other individuals could be withheld, Mr Niwatchai, who was the NACC's spokesman at that time, said the agency could not release any information from the probe as they involve accounts by witnesses which could lead to lawsuits and "a deterioration of the justice system".

It is disappointing to see the NACC fiercely guarding the details of Gen Prawit's wristwatches over all these five years.

The NACC is a state anti-corruption agency funded by taxpayers' money.

While its current commissioners were handpicked by the junta, the NACC's are bound by law to serve the public, by not only investigating corruption, but promoting transparency and anti-corruption practices.

Disclosing information pertaining to Gen Prawit's wristwatch case will enable the public to see the NACC go after corruption. This would kill off lingering public doubts over the NACC's investigation process and Gen Prawit himself.

Instead of dragging its feet, the NACC must respect the Supreme Administrative Court by disclosing all pertinent information. Any resistance will only do more damage to the NACC and our justice system.


Bangkok Post editorial column

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

Email : anchaleek@bangkokpost.co.th

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