Police rule Sanit payment 'within the rules'
The Royal Thai Police (RTP) has confirmed that metropolitan police chief Sanit Mahathavorn is not violating police rules by holding an advisory role with a major alcohol conglomerate.
Pol Lt Gen Sanit has been receiving a monthly payment of 50,000 baht from Thai Beverage Plc as an adviser to the firm since 2015, according to his assets declared to the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC).
Police deputy spokesman Piyapan Pingmuang said Wednesday that based on the RTP's rules, police officers are not prohibited from holding an advisory role in a company. However, it is up to Pol Lt Gen Sanit himself to explain whether advising an alcohol beverage producer could be seen as a breach of ethics, Pol Maj Gen Piyapan said. This is his personal issue and he may have to decide what to do himself, the deputy spokesman added.
Pol Lt Gen Sanit's role with the country's biggest producer of alcoholic drinks was back in the spotlight after the Office of the Ombudsman on Tuesday resolved to summon Pol Lt Gen Sanit to explain the matter within seven days.
Raksagecha Chaechai, secretary-general of the Ombudsman's office, said his agency had written to the NACC to seek information about Pol Lt Gen Sanit's assets and liabilities declaration.
The NACC was asked to supply the information within 15 days after receiving the request, he said.
Mr Raksagecha insisted the Ombudsman would expedite efforts to rule on the case, adding the issue is urgent and draws public attention.
He also gave his assurance that the Ombudsman would consider the case thoroughly and give fairness to all sides.
The Ombudsman's move to investigate the case came after Srisuwan Janya, secretary-general of the Association for the Protection of the Constitution, lodged a petition with the agency, calling for a probe into the senior police officer's conduct last month. Mr Srisuwan accused Pol Lt Gen Sanit of breaching police ethics by taking on the advisory post in the company.
Pol Lt Gen Sanit, who is also a member of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA), was also accused of breaching the ethics of political office-holders on the grounds that there is a conflict of interest in his duty as a lawmaker, as he may have to deal with legislation related to alcoholic beverages.
Mr Srisuwan also called on Pol Lt Gen Sanit to step down as chief of the Metropolitan Police Bureau.
Meanwhile, Mana Nimitmongkol, secretary-general for the Anti-Corruption Organisation of Thailand (ACT) praised the Office of the Ombudsman's probe into the matter.
"It's completely unsuitable behaviour for a high-ranking state official. Moreover, a police officer is supposed to enforce the law. This is a conflict of interest," he said.
In mid-December last year, Worawit Sukboon, NACC deputy secretary-general, said Section 100 of the anti-graft law prohibits any prime minister, minister or local administration executive from being a contractual partner with private operators, but it mentions nothing about "state officials".