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Purachai orders Surasak out of office

Legacy Phuket Gazette



Purachai orders Surasak out of office | Thaiger

PATONG: In one of his last acts as Interior Minister, Purachai Piemsomboon signed an order instructing Patong Mayor Surasak Maneesri and one of his two deputies to step down because of allegations of disreputable behavior. The order, signed on Wednesday, K. Purachai’s last day at the Interior Ministry before taking up his new post as Minister of Justice, was delivered to the office of Phuket Governor CEO Pongpayome Vasaputi yesterday evening. The Governor today countersigned the order and sent it to Kathu District Office for enforcement. The order cites evidence from Suthat Pantana, a representative of Navajessada Transportation and Construction Co, who on November 15 last year went to the Patong Municipal Offices to pick up an instalment of the payments for construction of the town’s water treatment system. K. Suthat said that he met with K. Surasak and his deputy, Sakorn Cheuayuan. K. Sakorn told K. Suthat that he must bring 2 million baht, failing which K. Surasak would not sign his instalment check. He also handed him a slip of paper on which was written “2.0 million no check.” Four days later, on November 19, K. Suthat went back to the Mayor’s office to ask for payment of a further check. Again it was refused, and K. Sakorn asked him again about the payment of 2 million baht. K. Suthat said that discussions over the payment to the Mayor and K. Sakorn went on until the end of December, when the company finally made two cash payments totaling 1.08 million to K. Surasak. Both K. Sakorn and Mayor Surasak denied being at work on November 15, but Ministry investigators unearthed documents signed by the two, and dated that day. Handwriting experts compared documents known to have been written by K. Sakorn with the slip of paper that K. Suthat said he had received from K. Sakorn, and found they were written by the same hand. In addition, K. Suthat secretly recorded both the November 19 meeting and those on December 26 and 27 when the cash was handed over. Having examined the evidence, K. Purachai ordered K. Surasak and K. Sakorn to quit their posts for behavior likely to bring the Municipality into disrepute. The timing of the order is exquisite – the council was dissolved yesterday anyway, to clear the way for elections. K. Surasak and his deputy now have 90 days to appeal against the decision in the recently established Administrative Court in Bangkok, which handles grievances against the central government. In the meantime it is not clear whether the two men may stand in the Patong elections, which must by law take place by November 18. Gov Pongpayome said that the law governing the elections is complex, especially as it has not yet been decided whether Patong will remain a tessabaan tambon or will be upgraded to a tessabaan muang. That decision is expected on Monday (October 7). “However, under the tessabaan muang election rules, anyone removed from office because of corruption or bad behavior is not allowed to stand for election,” he added. Neither K. Surasak nor K. Sakorn was available for comment today.


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