Political activist Srisuwan Janya on Friday filed a petition with the Justice Ministry, asking it to set up a committee to scrutinise alleged bid rigging in the procurement of outdated electronic monitoring (EM) ankle bracelets worth 1.6 billion baht.
The petition was filed after construction tycoon Premchai Karnasuta was released from Thong Pha Phum prison on Tuesday. The Department of Corrections (DoC) said that he did not have to wear an EM bracelet because the tracker could hurt wounds caused by his diabetes.
Mr Srisuwan said the procurement of EM tools had the stink of corruption about it for many years. He said his investigation found that a Terms of Reference (ToR) committee was formed by academics who were close to the winning bidder. Some committee members even admitted they had never attended any meetings. The activist also found that the signatures of committees required in the ToR and procurement documents were missing.
Given all these matters, the executive officials of DoC were negligent in the procurement process, he said.
In addition, the specifications of the EM bracelets have been used for seven years, and the technology is outdated. At present, the technology is more advanced, and the size is also smaller but durable, like a smartwatch. New EM bracelets also have better tracking systems even if an inmate is in a cave or deep water, Mr Srisuwan said.
However, the Justice Ministry still use the same old specifications for the EM bracelets. This may favour the private company which won the bidding, he said.
So far, 60,000 EM bracelets have been procured with a total investment of 1.6 billion baht, or around 73,333 baht per set. However, the present average price of EM bracelets is about 7,700 baht per set. Prices can be lower if big-lot purchases are made. The ministry is preparing to ask for a central budget of 1.2 billion baht to procure the same old version of EM bracelets. This must be stopped, he said.
"We demand the Justice Ministry scraps the new procurement plan and sets up a committee to probe," he said.