Thai reformers suggest 2 anti-graft bodies be merged

Thai reformers suggest 2 anti-graft bodies be merged

THE NATIONAL Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) may be merged with the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) as part of a reform plan to increase efficiency, the chairman of the National Reform Council's panel on counter-corruption and malfeasance Pramon Sutheewong said yesterday.

Pramon said the panel has proposed that the number of NACC members be raised from nine to 11 and be selected from various sectors of professionals and that members serve a six-year term.

They also proposed making the PACC independent from a bureaucratic system or merging the NACC with the PACC, he said.

Under the merger plan, the panel also proposed that check and balance mechanisms be set up for independent agencies to ensure transparency.

To avoid lengthy court procedures, a specialised court to hear corruption cases is proposed, he said. The specialised court would be a two-tier system with courts of first instance and appeal, plus they would adopt an inquisitorial system.

An inquisitorial system is a legal set-up where the court or a part of the court is actively involved in investigating the facts of the case. In this system, a defendant would not enjoy in dubio pro reo - the principle that a defendant may not be convicted by the court when a doubt about his/her guilt exists.

Pramon said the reform plan, tabled to the National Legislative Assembly for deliberation, also allows greater public participation by encouraging tip-offs and public watch against graft.

Under the proposal, a coordinating body would be set up to ensure agencies such as the NACC, PACC, the Anti-Money Laundering Commission and Office of the Ombudsman reduce overlapping corruption inquiries and increase efficiency.

As part of preventive moves, the panel proposed that the Public Information Disclosure Act 1997 be amended so that members of the public can access public information without having to file a petition seeking access.

The panel also proposed that relevant laws on procurement of materials and hiring for state agencies be amended to cover state enterprises, local administrative bodies and other new state agencies.

Members of the public would be allowed to take part in investigations and punishment of bribe takers and receivers. An anti-graft fund to encourage the public to participate in anti-graft work would also be set up.

Instilling Thais with morality is also part of the anti-corruption plan. A campaign titled "Thais are not corrupt" would be launched among target groups including youngsters, civil servants, state officials, politicians, businessmen, media, civil society and the general public.

Every school would be given a special anti-corruption curriculum that try to stop children cheating, becoming corrupt and sticking to good values when they grow up.

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