Phuket Gazette Thailand News: B350bn water project hits corruption dam; Khon Kaen killer cop; Cheating teacher investigated

Thailand news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Water projects may break corruption law
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The government might run into another serious legal problem; barely escaping the Administrative Court’s injunction last week, the Bt350-billion water-management project could be found to violate the Counter Corruption Act BE2542 (1999).

A source at the Comptroller General’s Department said on condition of anonymity that Article 103/7 of the act specified that government agencies must draw up an appraisal with details of expenditure on procurements, which must be revealed to the public via the Internet or through published media channels.

“In general practice, we set up the project before calculating its investment budget. However, for this water-management project, the government has created the budget before informing the public about the project details,” the department source said.

“The question is, how can they know how much money needs to be invested? The government has already set up the Bt350-billion loan to facilitate the project, so this indicates that the government has already calculated the budget to be allocated. If this is the case, why hasn’t the government presented the project to the general public?”

The government last week proceeded with the tendering process, as the Administrative Court turned down an injunction request filed by the Stop Global Warming Association. The request was filed on the ground that no project details were available before the tendering was kicked off. The investment scheme, touted by the government as a strategy to win back local and foreign investor confidence after the great flood of 2011, on Friday received bids from only four companies.

There has also been some effort to draw some of the investment to other projects not included in the nine infrastructure modules for the water project. Under Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s order, Bt10 billion would be allocated to the Strategic Committee for Reconstruction and Future Development for the development of water infrastructure in the Eastern Seaboard – to ensure smooth operations of industrial plants.

According to a person familiar with the committee, of that Bt10 billion, the Agriculture Department is tapping Bt3 billion for its land-use zoning project. Another Bt2 billion is now being tapped to address water pollution in the East.

The subcommittee on water strategy in the |East is expected to review the spending plans worth Bt5 billion tomorrow.

The plans will be forwarded for the Cabinet’s approval on May 14. If approved, the committee will be able to borrow money for the projects.

If government agencies don’t adhere to Article 103/7 of the Counter Corruption Act, then under Article 103/8 of the same act the National Anti-Corruption Commission is obliged to report the issue to the Cabinet. The government can then order the agency to present the procurement information to the public. This must be done within 180 days after the project receives government approval, the source at the Comptroller-General’s Department added.

The department on April 22 just completed the new median prices of government procurement projects, to be in line with the adjustment in the daily minimum wage to Bt300.

The rise in the minimum wage has pushed up the cost of procurements by about 2.91 per cent on average.

“However, the cost increases vary from one procurement to another because of their different construction patterns,” the source said. “As a result, the government cannot apply the average increase of procurement cost to the appraisal adjustment. Nevertheless, the Comptroller-General’s Department has its own calculation formula for the appraisal adjustment, of which the government agencies have been advised.”

Policeman wanted for Khon Kaen killing
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Police yesterday issued an arrest warrant for Khon Kaen’s Nong Rua deputy superintendent Pol Lt-Colonel Somjit Kaewphrom, 43, after his subordinate implicated him as the man who shot dead the chief administrator of Khon Kaen’s Provincial Administration Organisation.

Suchart Kothum, 53, was killed in front of his Muang district home on Friday.

Royal Thai Police senior adviser Pol General Chalermkiat Sriworakhan said Somjit’s arrest warrant followed the earlier arrest of Pol Senior Sgt-Major Weerasak Chamnanpol, 37, in Maha Sarakham.

They allege that during interrogation, Weerasak confessed to being a target identifier for the team and also implicated his superior Somjit as the man who pulled the trigger.

Besides getting an arrest warrant for Somjit, Chalermkiat said police were now looking for two other members of the assassination team based on surveillance-video evidence, and a motive for the killing should be known after Somjit’s arrest. He said police would work with transparency to ensure justice for all sides.

Weerasak was brought for re-enactment to Suchart’s house at 1.30pm yesterday amid tight security. Onlookers included Suchart’s co-workers.

Provincial Police Region 4 deputy chief Pol Maj-General Sakda Techakriengkrai said both Somjit and Weerasak were initially dismissed from the civil service pending investigation. Weerasak is now detained at Muang Khon Kaen police station and police opposed his bail.

Meanwhile Nong Rua superintendent Pol Colonel Thanomsit Wongwijan said both men were good drug-suppression policemen and still came to work on Saturday before being out of reach by phone during the next two days.

A source at Suchart’s office, who asked not to be named, said a motive for the killing might stem from conflict over a local development budget.

Suchart’s royal-sponsored cremation rite will be held at Wat Srichan on May 15.

Education chief vows instant dismissal if DSI finds school director, assistant teacher guilty of cheating
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The education office chief of an allegedly corrupt school director and an assistant teacher in Nakhon Ratchasima yesterday vowed to dismiss them from their posts if the Department of Special Investigation found them guilty of cheating in the latest assistant-teacher examination.

Wicha Manadee, director of Nakhon Ratchasima Primary Educational Service Area Office 2, said he was awaiting the results of the DSI’s investigation, which are due to be issued tomorrow, as the report would establish whether the two subordinates were guilty.

The two being investigated are Amphorn Thawannakul, director of Sema-uppatham School in Chakkarat district – and also a member of the subcommittee of the education area’s Office of the Teacher Civil Service and Educational Personnel Commission – and Suchao Yatheelo, an assistant teacher working at Kong Rot Rat Samakkhi School in Huai Thalaeng district.

“If they are found guilty and the subcommittee agrees with the decision, I will order them to be dismissed from their positions immediately,” he said.

Amphorn had allegedly sold answers to Suchao, who achieved abnormally high scores in the assistant-teacher exam.

DSI officials on Friday raided Amphorn’s house in Muang district and found answers for the test-paper questions in all of the exam subjects.

They also found ev

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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