Graftbusters brush off demands to call it quits

Graftbusters brush off demands to call it quits

The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) yesterday shrugged off criticism and demands for its members to step down in the wake of the controversial Constitutional Court ruling on its status.

The charter court ruled on Friday that the provision in the organic bill governing the NACC which excuses some of its members from qualification rules set down in the charter does not contravene the constitution.

Critics have voiced concerns over the ruling, saying it may set a bad precedent for allowing a law to override the constitution which is the supreme law.

Charter writer Jade Donavanik this week suggested the NACC members and the Constitutional Court judges resign to avert potential credibility problems.

NACC president Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit said the ruling would put the agency back on track and the commissioners would be able to clear their backlog after work slowed down over the past 15 months as new legislation was being drafted.

He insisted the new law which seeks to streamline the NACC's work would help the commission better fight irregularities and corruption.

"I've told agency staff they have hard work ahead for the next two years because we're streamlining our work," he said.

Witthaya Arkhompitak, another NACC member, said he felt relieved by the Constitutional Court's ruling and it is time to refocus on his work.

"I don't have to be worried if I am authorised to do the job," he said.

The Campaign for Democracy group is the latest to join the chorus of criticism against the ruling.

The civic group led by Pichai Rattanadilok Na Phuket expressed concerns the ruling undermines checks and balances.

The term of the current NACC should end like those of other independent agencies to reflect the charter's intention, the group said.

"Any of the NACC members who are under-qualified under the new charter but insist on staying do not have the credibility and lack the dignity to do the job," the group added.

The ruling came in response to a petition submitted by a group of 32 National Legislative Assembly (NLA) members in January after the bill drafted by the Constitution Drafting Committee was changed by the NLA to allow seven of nine NACC members to remain in their posts although they are under-qualified under the charter's provisions.

Critics have also pointed out that the organic bill on the Election Commission, which also went through NLA scrutiny, contains no waiver that permits its members to continue working if they fall short of the charter-stipulated qualifications.

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