Thai parks boss sacked in corruption scandal

Thai parks boss removed from post to "pave the way for a transparent investigation"

The head of Thailand’s national parks was sacked on Friday as an investigation into a cash-for-placement scandal engulfs the environmental body. Thai parks boss Rutchada Suriyakul Na Ayutya has been removed from his post to “pave the way for a transparent investigation” into corruption, at least according to Jatuporn Buruspat the Ministry permanent secretary.

Any kind of thorough investigation is going to take a very long time. A large number of people have a lot to say on the matter, and they all demand to be heard.

Jatuporn said…

“What the ministry has done is based on civil service regulations. Rutchada ceased to be a state official when the order was made on February 3. The investigation is to ensure transparency and fairness to all stakeholders. We want the public to be updated and regain trust in our organisation.”

The charges against Rutchada are incredibly simple. It said that if you wanted a good job in a nice place, you paid him a bribe. The nicer the job, the bigger the bribe. Of course, there are thousands of years of culture in Thailand of people each paying each other for similar things and no one objected much, or at least that’s part of the defence.

It seems that the department feels the whole “patronage culture” needs investigation. It might be easier to just bring a single charge against the former Thai parks boss and chuck him in prison if he is found guilty. It’s quite strange that on the one hand, people can pretend to be shocked and surprised at these matters while claiming on the other that they are simply an undesirable cultural phenomenon.

Jatuporn said that a committee would collect and assess information and reach a consensus. But why? These are criminal charges, not departmental discipline. Can’t you just call the cops today?

Talerngsak Petchsuwan, the ministry’s deputy permanent secretary is heading the committee. He said 50 state officials had been questioned so far. He didn’t mention whether any of them got lunch. When Talerngsak has finished hearing testimony and reached a “verdict,” Rutchada has the right to appeal to the Administrative Court, if he so wishes.

When Rutchada was arrested on December 27, cops found 5 million baht in cash in his safe. Names of forestry officials appeared on envelopes stuffed with cash found in his office. It was all, we were led to believe, a matter of donations to monasteries, and other such worthy work.

At that time, Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-Archa moved the Thai park’s boss to an inactive post and appointed the chief of the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources, Attaporn Charoenchansa, to take his place.

Attaporn set up an inquiry and moved at least two other state officials to inactive posts following allegations of involvement.

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Jon Whitman

Jon Whitman is a seasoned journalist and author who has been living and working in Asia for more than two decades. Born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, Jon has been at the forefront of some of the most important stories coming out of China in the past decade. After a long and successful career in East sia, Jon is now semi-retired and living in the Outer Hebrides. He continues to write and is an avid traveller and photographer, documenting his experiences across the world.

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