Anti-graft measures 'must be retained'
Mana Nimitmongkol, secretary-general of the Anti-Corruption Organisation of Thailand (ACT), has called for rigorous anti-graft measures in the current constitution to be retained in any future charter amendments.
In a recent Facebook post, he said the 2012 hit-and-run case involving Red Bull scion Vorayuth "Boss" Yoovidhya and the five-million-baht extortion case in parliament are proof that corruption is rife in state agencies.
The alleged extortion case involves several MPs in one of the sub-committees examining the 2021 fiscal budget.
They stand accused of demanding money from the Department of Groundwater Resources at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment in exchange for letting its portion of the national budget pass scrutiny easily "with no trimming".
"The public cannot trust as long as the state sector still lacks transparency and is without scrutiny," Mr Mana said.
"The constitution must stipulate clear anti-corruption measures to ensure justice and transparency in society regardless of economic and political changes."
Even though the present constitution has come up with improved measures to stamp out graft, several cannot yield practical results, he said. Often, those in power in each organisation lack sincerity and intend to exploit legal loopholes to avoid punishment, Mr Mana added.
He said no serious efforts have been made to push through some major issues in tackling corruption, such as transparent state procurement, police reform and punishing state officials extorting people.
He added several measures have not lived up to people's expectations, such as methods to guarantee the safety of whistleblowers exposing corruption.
Some independent agencies have also failed to measure up in terms of punishing wrongdoers, Mr Mana wrote.
"Therefore, if there are any charter amendments, all involved should take this opportunity to improve anti-corruption measures so they are more comprehensive and more vigorous, or at least they must not be toned down and weaker than the current ones," the ACT secretary-general wrote.
The current constitution has at least 53 sections which deal with good governance and anti-corruption. For example, Section 41 gives the public the right to sue state agencies over dereliction of duty. Section 63 stipulates the state must promote efforts to educate the public about the dangers of corruption.
Section 258, meanwhile, calls for justice and police reform, and for measures to ensure the swift dispensation of justice and to help poor people have better access to judicial services.