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PM orders investigation into pricey street lamps



Photo via Facebook/ @act.anticorruptionThailand

Thailand’s PM has ordered an investigation into accused corruption over decorative street lamps in Samut Prakan.

Prayut Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered an investigation into local governments for the purchase of 600 kinaree (animal-human hybrid/Buddhist mythical figures) street lamps in the Racha Thewa sub-district. The Racha administrative organisation is accused of blowing through over 642 million baht to install 6,773 lamps. 600 of which are solar powered.

It should be noted that the 6,773 number is ambiguous as other sources place it even higher.

Despite the swirling lamp centred controversy, 684 million baht has been approved by the local government for 720 more street lamps. Critics sounded off on Twitter to lambast the expensive purchases as the country struggles with a new wave of Covid-19. Albeit, as of last night this purchase was “frozen” while an investigation takes place…

However, the local government is seemingly confident of the outcome of the investigation already. The government stated that the conclusion of the investigation will reveal… no corruption was found.

TAO chairman Songchai Nokkhamin says everything about the project has been “considered”. Songhai says the lamps are a “tourist attraction” because the area is close to the Suvannabhumi Airport.

Anucha Burapachaisri, a government spokesperson says the government has got many complaints, thus the “serious” investigation into the pricey lamp posts. Anucha says an investigation is underway and further data must be collected to make sure there is transparency.

The spokesperson says the State Audit Office, the National Anti-Corruption Commission, the Anti-Money Laundering Office and Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission are all “looking into the issue”.

It is unknown if the government is aware that street lamps can be purchased on Lazada for as little as 155 baht. More expensive models cost about 3,000 baht. It is also possible they are aware of the disparity between their lamps that cost about 95,000 baht apiece and these cheaper models as they know no one would go to an empty field to check out a 155 lamp post.

Yesterday, the Thaiger wrote that reports and photos showed revealed the lamps (i.e. “tourist attractions) were placed in areas with no paved roads. That is, in case tourists wanted to see an open field at night, they were in luck.

Samut Prakan isn’t the only province to be embroiled in a lamp based controversy.  Hat Yai, a city in the southern province of Songkhla, is also in the midst of its own lamp controversy. The Thaiger will shine more light on this story as it develops.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News Bangkok Post


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Jack is from the USA, has a B.A. in English, and writes on a variety of topics. He lives in Thailand.

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