Prayuth vows wide corruption crackdown
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has vowed to make an anti-corruption campaign a national priority, saying fighting pervasive graft is a central theme of the government's national reform strategy.
Gen Prayuth made the statement as a guest speaker at the 2014 Anti-Corruption Day forum organised by the Anti-Corruption Organisation of Thailand (ACT) at CentralWorld.
More than 1,500 people, including government officials and those from the private sector, attended the event.
Gen Prayuth, who also heads the National Council for Peace and Order, stressed the need to include an anti-corruption campaign in the 11 areas of national reform set out by the council.
"Solving corruption is a national agenda item and is central to national reforms," he said.
Gen Prayuth said corruption has been deeply entrenched in Thai society for a long time and the problem has worsened, causing social division and disparity.
"Thailand has lost numerous opportunities. Foreign investors lose confidence in us, making new investments impossible. Government agencies and companies lack credibility. Resources, which should belong to all Thais, fall into the hand of a group of people," he said.
Gen Prayuth said fighting corruption is the most important issue of concern, adding that cooperation from all sectors is needed to achieve this goal.
Civil servants must work transparently, efficiently and with good governance and they must avoid favouring any particular groups, Gen Prayuth said, adding that the public and private sectors and the people must join forces as a network to combat corruption.
He said enormous amounts of money that have been lost in corruption could have been used to bring about considerable national progress, and stressed the need to elevate the country's middle-income status to the ranks of high-income countries.
Gen Prayuth also urged foreign media and foreign countries to recognise Thailand's intention to combat graft and not to downgrade the country's credit rating any further.
He said he has met businessmen from Japan and Europe and they confirmed their confidence in the country and promised to continue to invest in the country.
Other guests at the event included PM's Office Minister and permanent secretary ML Panadda Diskul, National Security Council chief Thawil Pliensri, Attorney-General Trakul Winitnaiyapak and Isara Vongkusolkit, chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce and Board of Trade.
ACT chairman Pramon Sutivong said Thai people can no longer accept the extent of damage caused by corruption and they have high expectations for Gen Prayuth to tackle the corruption problem head-on.
Mr Pramon said the state and private sectors must unite to find the best solutions to corruption problems, with members of the public acting as a monitoring watchdog.
Mr Trakul said that dealing with acts of corruption include prevention, suppression and condemnation, although inculcating anti-corruption values into young people is the most important.
Mr Thawil criticised those who hold the view that some petty corruption is acceptable as long as it oils the wheels of things, saying such a notion has become old-fashioned. "We now cannot tell how small is enough. Someone may have said tens of billions or hundreds of billions baht are still not enough. Corruption is the devil that you cannot afford to take lightly," Mr Thawil said.