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Army says donations paid for park, govt not involved

Nov 16. 2015
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By Jitraporn Senawong,

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DEPUTY PM and Defence Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan yesterday dismissed calls by Pheu Thai Party and others for the government to explain alleged irregularities in the Rajabhakti Park project in Prachuap Khiri Khan province.

The project was initiated by the Army and paid for by donations. As a result, the government and public funds were not involved, he said.

Prawit said people should wait for the results of a probe led by a fact-finding committee appointed by Army chief General Theerachai Nakwanich. The findings were expected to come out tomorrow as per Theerachai’s seven-day timeframe.

The minister admitted that some people were targeting General Udomdej Sitabutr, who inaugurated the project while serving as Army commander and Deputy Defence Minister.

A high-ranking Army source revealed yesterday that the committee led by the Army’s chief adviser, General Veeran Chantasartkosol, was instructed to be thorough with the inquiry.

The source said the investigation was divided into two: first to examine the transparency of state officials involved, as well as police and military officers and second to review private sector involvement. Anyone deemed guilty of tarnishing the Army would be subjected to severe criminal and disciplinary punishment.

The probe was expected to bring about clarity and transparency before the Army takes over the building of a museum for the project, the source said.

Meanwhile, National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) spokesman Wicha Mahakhun said yesterday his agency would wait for the Army panel’s probe result. He said construction of the park was not funded by a state budget and the agency had not seen any links.

He said the NACC secretariat could coordinate, as per the normal procedure, to see if there was any over-budget spending, in which parts, and whether the NACC was authorised to check it. He said the status of those involved would determine if the NACC could probe the issue, because the agency could not investigate a case in which those involved were from positions below C-8 ranking or equivalent.

Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha noted yesterday that the project was ready to be investigated and the procedure would run its course. Anyone found involved in alleged corruption would be punished. Prayut insisted the National Council for Peace and Order wasn’t involved in the project.


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