New parks chief vows transparency
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New parks chief vows transparency

Athapol: To address 'missing budget'
Athapol: To address 'missing budget'

Promising justice for state forest officials hit with unfair transfers and vowing greater transparency to boost the public's trust, Athapol Charoenshunsa was sworn into office last week as the acting chief of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation.

Earlier, Mr Athapol, who is currently working as chief of the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources, was assigned by the environment minister to a taskforce supervising the park and wildlife department as its acting chief.

The order was made to restore the public's confidence in the department, which has been damaged by a bribery scandal involving its chief, Rutchada Suriyakul Na Ayutya.

Mr Athapol said he would make his utmost effort to restore confidence. He vowed to start by setting up a committee focused on reviewing and revising post transfers ordered by Mr Rutchada.

He said it will proceed on a case-by-case basis to ensure all transfers were issued on the basis of placing the most suitable candidate in each position.

"My first priority is to restore justice to any staff who may have received unfair treatment," he said. "A new transfer order will be made later to boost morale. I can do my job unhindered because the minister has given me full authority to proceed without interference."

"I have three years left in office," he said. "Whenever I retire, I don't want to have any regrets, but rather fond memories of everything positive that I have achieved. This is what gives me joy. It would be a shame if I were not to try my best during my career."

He said he would also visit local officers, especially the forest fire prevention unit that has been hit by its so-called "missing budget".

He said operating budgets would be provided "in full", adding the department will let the public know its budget allocations with full transparency.

Regarding the Rutchada case, he said the department is in charge of providing information as requested by the committee teams. The committee probing disciplinary actions has been working in line with the National Anti-Corruption Commission, he added.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has given the committee on disciplinary investigation a one-month deadline to determine whether Mr Rutchada is guilty of any corruption charge. The results are expected next month.

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