PM to resolve assets rule row
University council resignation threats spark panic in cabinet
The government will resolve the controversy surrounding a new regulation announced by the anti-graft agency that requires senior civil servants to declare their assets and liabilities, according to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.
Gen Prayut said Tuesday he had ordered Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam to discuss a solution to the regulation and its effect on civil servants with the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC).
NACC's new regulation is upsetting many officials, and some have even threatened to resign.
He said the issue was a hot topic at Tuesday's cabinet meeting, and the problem could not be ignored because more civil servants will be required to declare their assets under the new regulation.
The immediate concern is that university council members affected by the new rule are set to quit their jobs, Gen Prayut said.
There is still time to solve the problem because the new regulation will not take effect until Dec 2. The regulation has been heavily criticised by state universities, which fear it will lead to university council members leaving their positions in droves. Many people from the private sector sit on university councils and are reluctant to declare their assets.
The Council of Rajabhat and Rajamangkala University Presidents of Thailand will this week file a petition asking the NACC to revise the new regulation, saying many of their council members would quit their positions because of the requirement, thus creating a power vacuum in universities.
Viroj Limkaisang, president of the Council of Rajamangala University Presidents of Thailand, previously said many council members at nine Rajamangala universities wanted to resign from their positions due to the new rule.
Education Minister Teerakiat Jareonsettasin urged university council members to delay their resignation decisions. The government has acknowledged the problem and is trying to find a way around it, he said.
"Some council members receive a monthly meeting allowance of only 2,000 baht but they will now have to deal with the burden of submitting declarations of their assets," Dr Teerakiat said.
Most of the council members get next to nothing apart from meeting allowances, so when they are required to declare their assets, it is a bit too much for them, Mr Viroj said.
The regulation was published in the Royal Gazette last Thursday.
It was issued under a new anti-corruption law which authorises the NACC to order political office holders, Constitutional Court judges, members of independent bodies, the Ombudsman, state officials, their spouses and children, including those who are not yet of age, to submit declarations of their assets and debts to the NACC.
Most office holders who are required to submit to the regulation are senior officials holding the ranks of ministerial deputy permanent secretaries, department deputy directors-general, deputy university rectors and other officials holding equivalent positions.
- Earlier report: Academics outraged