Overstayers 'not breaking law': Govt

Overstayers 'not breaking law': Govt

There is no law barring retired soldiers from occupying military housing, Defence Ministry spokesman Kongcheep Tantravanich said on Thursday.

His statement came in response to activist Srisuwan Janya's decision to file a complaint with the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) against retired top brass who continue living in military residences, including Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan and Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda.

Lt Gen Kongcheep said yesterday the retirees were breaking no laws by occupying these residences, adding the housing is among the welfare benefits provided to army officers, with certain exceptions.

The army said earlier that retired top brass working for the country, such as the prime minister and senators, are allowed to live in army residences during the period of their public service.

This controversy came to light when army chief Gen Apirat Kongsompong announced reforms to the army, including getting professionals to manage the army's commercial interests. He also set a deadline for retirees to move out of army residences by next month.

Lt Gen Kongcheep also insisted the army does not pick up the tab for utility bills for retirees occupying military residences, as alleged by Mr Srisuwan. However, he admitted some junior officers help the retirees with some chores, though this service was provided only time to time.

He said the same rules apply to state officials in other professions, such as education, in which retired teachers take up residence in official housing.

Meanwhile, Mr Srisuwan said he will file a petition with the NACC on the subject, adding all retirees must vacate their military residences unconditionally. He pointed out the ones benefiting from the exception to the rule are mostly well-off top officers who can easily afford to buy a private residence.

By continuing to occupy military homes, the retirees risk violating the law on conflicts of interest, he said.

Mr Srisuwan also said retirees who have moved out are still subject to prosecution because the alleged wrongdoing has already been committed.

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