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NACC accuses former ministers of fabricating G2G rice scheme

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NACC accuses former ministers of fabricating G2G rice scheme
The Nation / Phuket Gazette


PHUKET: Claims of rice stockpiles being sold through government-to-government (G2G) scheme by the Yingluck Shinawatra administration were “total lies”, National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) member Vicha Mahakhun told members of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) yesterday.

The scheme, he said, played a key role in “one of the most scandalous corruption cases in Thai history”.

However, former commerce minister Boonsong Teriyapirom said the allegations were part of a political game by the NACC, claiming the commission had chosen to single out and annihilate a political group by using “double standards”. He also accused the NACC of rushing the case through without taking into account important witnesses and evidence, which led to false conclusions.

The other two accused, former deputy commerce minister Poom Sarapol and former director of the Commerce Ministry’s Foreign Trade Department Manus Soiploy, also said they had hard evidence to prove their innocence.

The NLA held a second meeting yesterday to deliberate on impeachment cases against public officials in relation to alleged corruption in the G2G scheme. The first meeting was held earlier this month.

At yesterday’s meeting, which was chaired by NLA president Pornpetch Wichitcholchai, Vicha presented the case statement on NACC’s behalf. Boonsong and Poom came armed with a team of 11 lawyers.

In the question-and-answer session, Vicha questioned the very existence of the Chinese government representatives who had engaged in the deal. He pointed out that Beijing had claimed that these “state enterprises” were not their representatives.

Mr Vicha also asked why the companies Kwang-Tung Stationary and Hai-Narn Grain and Oil Industrial Trading – who the Pheu Thai-led government claimed were representatives of the Chinese government -sold the rice back to Thai local distributors. He backed this claim by saying local firms Nakorn-Luang Ka-Kao and Thai-Fah 2551 had both come forward to say they bought rice from the Chinese companies.

He also said documents issued by the Foreign Trade Department recording the so-called sale to China only accounted for a single ex-warehouse transaction. Mr Vicha said the deal was in fact with North Korea and the transaction had to be cancelled because no payment was ever made.

“There was never any G2G deal because the rice was sold at less than market price and then redistributed in the country. This created an oversupply, pushing the price even lower,” Vicha pointed out.

The NACC member also accused the officials of doing nothing to prevent corruption or making any effort to organize fair bidding. “You have caused immeasurable damage to the country. You cannot deny responsibility because you had direct power in overseeing the G2G affair. If you detected any error, you should have fixed it. In reality, though, you did the opposite by committing [corruption], hiding and denying the corruption. You have severely violated the official code of ethics,” he concluded.


Double standards

Mr Boonsong, however, denied all the charges and even criticized the behavior of Vicha, who played a key role in Ms Yingluck’s impeachment.

“This NACC official is prejudiced and engaged in improper conduct that demonstrates his personal bias against me by giving media interviews indicating that I’m guilty,” he said.

The former minister went on to say that it was difficult for him to believe he will undergo a fair and legal deliberation process now that the case has been handed over to Mr Vicha.

He claimed that NACC was using the same double standards against him as the ones it used against Ms Yingluck’s administration, in comparison to the Abhisit Vejjajiva government’s rice scheme, which is still incomplete after five years.

He went on to say that the NACC had rushed the G2G case by refusing to investigate the buyers, who were representatives of the Chinese government. He added that these firms had sent the NACC official letters confirming the fact that they were state enterprises. He claimed that the rice-pledging scheme is being used for an artificial political discourse to discredit the Yingluck government.

“It’s a shame that those against Pheu Thai turned the rice scheme into political discourse to bring down Ms Yingluck’s government, even though the scheme helped millions of farmers,” he said.

Mr Boonsong said the G2G system has been widely used in many countries and that Thailand too had engaged in it several times in the past.

Mr Poom agreed, saying the G2G deal was beneficial to the country because the government did not want the stockpiled rice to degrade or rot and that releasing the whole lot through this deal was the best option.

He also pointed out that if the G2G deal had been delayed, the price of the rice would have dropped further and there would have been the additional cost of storage and tax. Plus, he said, it forged stronger ties with China.

The NLA will meet again next Thursday to pose questions to all sides.

The final statements will be presented on May 7, and the NLA will vote for or against impeachment the following day.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Public Health Minister gets first Covid-19 vaccine shot in Thailand

Caitlin Ashworth

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Public Health Minister gets first Covid-19 vaccine shot in Thailand | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Facebook/ Anutin Charnvirakul

Thailand’s Covid-19 vaccine campaign started with Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul who was jabbed with China’s Sinovac vaccine. PM Prayut Chan-o-cha was initially planned to be the first to kick off Thailand’s immunisation plan with the AstraZeneca vaccine, but due to problems with paperwork, the prime minister’s injection was postponed. Doctors advised Prayut to get the AstraZeneca vaccine due to his age. Prayut is 66 and doctors say the Sinovac vaccine has been declared safe for people ages 18 to 59.

Both shipments of the Sinovac and AstraZeneca vaccines arrived last week, the AstraZeneca vaccine still needs to be endorsed by the Medical Science Department. Anutin says the pharmaceutical company has not submitted documents and samples needed for the endorsement.

Along with Anutin, a number of other government officials and health professionals were vaccinated against the coronavirus. Anutin’s shot was administered by Thailand’s top virologist Yong Poovorawan.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Bangkok

Royal Thai Police accused of “ticket” promotion system to buy senior positions

Caitlin Ashworth

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Royal Thai Police accused of “ticket” promotion system to buy senior positions | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Nation Thailand

The Royal Thai Police are being accused of using so-called “elephant tickets” to buy their way into promotions and pay their way up the police force’s chain of command. The corruption among the police force and the buying of positions without meeting the requirements for a promotion has been a longtime problem, according to the Bangkok Post.

The “elephant ticket” issue was recently brought to light by an opposition MP at a censure debate who said it fast tracked the promotion system and allowed some people who were unqualified and undeserving to raise their rank. Some Thais have protested the “elephant ticket.” Many gathered in front of the Royal Thai Police headquarters in Bangkok last week, including one person who dressed up as an elephant.

At the censure debate on February 19, Move Forward Party MP Rangsiman Rome called out PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, who chairs the Police Commission overseeing the Royal Thai Police, and said the prime minister allowed the “elephant ticket” promotions. Prayut later said there were problems within the police force and that he would handle it.

Police who want a promotion need a ticket, which is basically just a reference or a stamp of approval from a senior officer or even a politician or business person. To get an “elephant ticket,” some can pay for the ticket. A source told the Post that positions for police superintendents cost between 5 to 10 million baht.

Others can get a ticket by doing favours for their superior or even just serving their superior for a long time, sources told the Bangkok Post. The higher the position a senior officer has, the more tickets they have to give out.

To read the full special report by the Bangkok Post, click HERE.

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Crime

Woman talks about the life of a Thai “pretty” after model’s death

Caitlin Ashworth

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Woman talks about the life of a Thai “pretty” after model’s death | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Instagram/ wawa_manika

Following the news of a model who died after working as a hostess at a Bangkok party, Thai media spoke with a woman, known in Thailand as a “pretty,” about what it’s like to work in the lucrative, yet shady Thai model entertainment industry where many work as hostesses at parties and events that often involve alcohol, drugs and sex work.

“Miss Cake” told the Thai news outlet Daily News that pretties are sent to parties by “modelling agencies.” The parties are even categorized depending on if drugs or sex are involved. Apparently the parties are either “En-Up,” “En-V” or just “En” for entertainment. En-Up means drugs are involved, while En-V means the pretties will offer sexual services. Other pretties work at promotional events like auto shows. Since nightclubs and other entertainment venues in Bangkok have been closed due to the pandemic, many of the parties are now held at private homes.

If a pretty is working at an En-Up party, Miss Cake says that means there will be ecstasy, known as “khanom,” the Thai word for a dessert or snack. She says good “khanom” shipped from overseas costs around 900 to 1,000 baht while the poor quality, Thai-made drugs cost 500 baht. Just about every pretty takes drugs, she says. If mixed with ketamine, Miss Cake says it can be dangerous.

Daily News spoke with Miss Cake following the death of a 33 year old Witchayaporn “Wawa” Wisetsombat who worked died in a hospital after working as a hostess at a party in Bangkok’s Chatuchak district. She had been hired by a modelling agency to serve drinks at a private party. Her younger sister told the Bangkok Post that Wawa was a product presenter and never sold sex or used narcotics. Doctors told the Post Wawa died from respiratory and blood system failure. They are still waiting for the results for a toxicology test.

The death of another model back in 2019 shed light on the abuse and danger many pretties face in the industry. 25 year old Thitima “Lunlabelle” Noraphanpiphat died from “extreme alcohol intoxication,” according to an autopsy report. Her dead body was found in the lobby of a Bangkok condominium. 6 people were found guilty for involvement in Lunlabelle’s death.

Abuse is common in the industry and many women working as pretties are often pressured into drinking excessive amounts of alcohol. The work of pretties is looked down upon in Thai society. Due to the stigma, many due not file complaints when they are abused.

SOURCE: Thai Visa

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