Controversial Article 44 of new Thai charter to speed up graft crackdown

Controversial Article 44 of new Thai charter to speed up graft crackdown

The Prayut Chan-o-cha government's crusade against corruption involving state officials has been launched, with 100 officials in a much-discussed watchlist targeted under the draconian Article 44 of the interim charter.

At yesterday's meeting of the National Anti-Corruption Commission, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam, who leads overall anti-corruption efforts, said Thailand would apply to join a Norway-based corruption watchdog in order to gain international recognition.

Referring to the watchlist, which names officials from various agencies between the ranks of C3 to C11, Wissanu said not all of them should be treated as guilty, as many were said to have neither cheated nor been corrupt. But they had failed to duly perform their duties in their posts.

A thorough investigation into their roles was underway and further action would follow if they were found guilty, he said.

Various news reports say that the 100-name list would be followed by many other names on future lists.

Wissanu said Prayut had told him before heading to Indonesia yesterday for a regional forum, to instruct all ministries to keep submitting names of officials suspected of corruption.

The use of powers under Article 44 shortens the normal process of going through the Office of Civil Service Commission channel, which could take months to even transfer them. Wissanu said Article 44 also enables quick creation of interim positions for the transferred officials during the investigation into their alleged wrongdoing.

Citing a policy by Prayut on how to deal with these officials, Wissanu said four measures, from mild to drastic, would be adopted. Those not fully performing their duties would be encouraged to do their jobs; those whose failure had already caused damage to the bureaucracy would be probed by anti-graft watchdog agencies; such damage would be dealt with through the administrative process with those responsible permanently transferred to make way for full-scale scrutiny into the consequences of their corruption or wrongdoing; and those found fully guilty of corruption would be prosecuted.

The application to join the Norway-based Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative would be proposed soon to the Cabinet by the Energy Ministry, according to General Anantaphorn Kanjanarat, an adviser to the Government Budget Auditing Commission, who also attended yesterday's meeting.

Interior Minister Anupong Paochinda, speaking at a press conference, said he had received a list of ministry officials from the premier. He did not say whether the names on this list were the same as those in the 100-name watch-list.

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