'Special method' sign of dodgy dealing

'Special method' sign of dodgy dealing

Construction of the new parliament complex and the parliamentary club needs to be examined as state projects are prone to a "dodgy special method" of procurement, says the Anti-Corruption Organization of Thailand (ACT).

ACT secretary-general Mana Nimitmongkol said he has written articles on the complex's construction after receiving complaints from senior officials about the work and project design.

He said he believed conflicts of interest may be rife in the project which has been beset by myriad problems such as bloated costs causing delays.

The core problem is the preferred adoption of a "special method" in construction. Its advocates say this enables speedy and urgent implementation of state projects to address economic hardship or national security. "We've heard it all before," he said.

Mr Mana said the irony was that the special method was put in practice by a parliamentary body which is supposed to scrutinise public spending. "It's sad and shameful," he said.

Graft is able to thrive where people with power wield influence over state officials and politicians who feel submissive to them.

With the parliamentary club, Mr Mana said an example should be drawn from the club in the old parliament which was open to officials and private individuals. A committee was registered with the authority to call bids to select a team to run the club.

''The process of operating the club must be accountable and above-board,'' he said.

As for the club in the new parliament, several queries must be answered. These include whether it will be open to private individuals as well and what the criteria for charging user fees will be.

He said it would be a joke if access to the club were restricted to lawmakers and parliament officials, which would give the impression of an exclusive club.

Parliament should embrace inclusiveness as it struggles to shake off the disrepute it has fallen into in recent years.

One instance was the purchase of overpriced wall clocks to be hung in every room in parliament including under-the-stairs storerooms and toilets.

"It was laughable to think that parliamentarians who could afford a wristwatch and a smart phone would need a wall clock to check the time," the ACT secretary-general said.

He added some services at the club, such as traditional and therapeutic massages, may hold health benefits, but sauna rooms might be going overboard.

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