Friday, September 21, 2007

Bye bye Sittichai

You couldn't make this stuff up. When people (especially people back home) ask me why I am interested in Thai politics, I frequently point out that it has more twists and turns than an epic movie. This week is just one example.

My friend Sittichai Pookai-yaudom and two other ministers in PM Surayud's cabinet have been found to have violated a graft law. They have all exceed permitted limits in public share holdings. Sittichai is head of MICT, the office that awards itself the status of thought police and moral guardian for the entire nation. Sadly, it seems Sittichai fails to follow his own superior ethics that he imposes upon Thailand.

In fairness to Sittichai, he has already resigned his post to "show transparency". Surely real transparency would be taking him to court and asking him why he only "showed transparency" after he was caught? The other two ministers are delivering the usual squabbling, pathetic and remorseless arguments and obfuscation that we have come to expect from greedy politicians.

The complication is that although the three have clearly committed an offence (and credit to the NCCC for actually pointing it out) they are protected from a clause in the new constitution that exempts them from complying!!!!

So there appears to be no punishment. Surayud has given them 'a week to consider their actions' and it appears the worst any of them will face is resignation. Somehow, that seems unlikely to bother them given their amassed wealth.

I wonder, if Thaksin was found to have committed the same offence,would he be protected by this clause? Would he simply be given "a week to consider" ?

Welcome to the world of Thai politics.

1 comment:

hobby said...

Sorry to say it, but this post is not up to your usual high standards, because you appear to have commented before doing the research.

Are you sure "they have all exceed permitted limits in public share holdings" ?

Also you fail to mention that the shareholdings were apparently fully disclosed to the NCCC, and the real problem was the failure to transfer the shares.

From today's Bangkok Post:
Meanwhile, Mr Sitthichai said yesterday he had not transferred ownership of his shares because he had a poor understanding of the law.
He said at first his legal advisers understood only that the anti-graft law barred cabinet ministers from holding shares in listed companies and from assuming executive positions in private firms.

I always thought that Sittichai was basically OK (especially after hearing him at the FCCT), and his latest actions have just confirmed my opinion.