Absenteeism of top brass gets defence

Absenteeism of top brass gets defence

A Defence Ministry spokesman has defended military top brass serving as senators who have been accused of taking unnecessary leaves of absence and neglecting their duties in the Upper House.

Navy chief Adm Luechai Ruddit, army chief Gen Apirat Kongsompong and retired and incumbent air force chiefs ACM Chaipruek Dissayasarin and ACM Manaat Wongwat are the least involved senators in the military-appointed Upper House, the civic group Internet for People's Laws Project (iLaw) claims.

iLaw added the military leaders have the worst track records when it comes to Senate voting.

But Defence Ministry spokesman Kongcheep Tantravanich denied the charge, saying the men had not neglected their Upper House duties.

Lt Gen Kongcheep said the senators have taken leave of absence on some days to pursue important work as state officials, adding their nonattendance has not been infrequent and was done within regulations. When attending the meetings, the senators freely voted or refrained from voting under democratic rules, the spokesman said.

"The [military] leaders who also serve in the Senate are committed to their duties and contribute constructive ideas every time they attend Upper House meetings," said Lt Gen Kongcheep said.

If they were not at meetings, they watched sessions on television, he added.

Meanwhile, a military source reiterated that military leaders regularly attended Senate meetings although they may not have stayed on until the end to cast their votes.

While regulations require senators to participate in meetings, there is no mention of a requirement for them to be in attendance during voting, the source said. The men are among the six state officials serving as senators as prescribed by the 2017 charter.

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