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Paiboon says park scandal manipulated for political gain

Jan 05. 2016
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By Jeerapong Prasertponkrung,

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JUSTICE Minister General Paiboon Koomchaya said yesterday someone had been exploiting the Rajabhakti Park scandal for political motives.

Allegations associated with the scandal have affected the reputation of the current government, because they involved claims of corruption regarding the casting of the giant statues of seven former Thai kings at the park.

Deputy Defence Minister General Udomdej Sitabutr, who has been implicated in the scandal, has urged senior figures not to jump to conclusions about corruption.

“Don’t say just yet that there has been corruption or irregularity in the Rajabhakti Park project,” Udomdej said.

He added that any problems in the project that involved the private sector had already been resolved.

“No one has lost anything,” he said.

Speaking separately in his capacity as chairman of the Centre for National Anti-Corruption (CNAC) before he attended a Cabinet meeting, Paiboon said he had been careful about commenting on the Rajabhakti Park case because someone had used the case for political manipulation.

“At this point, we should just let relevant officials do their duty,” he said, referring to probes that have been launched in response to the scandal. The Office of the Auditor General (OAG) is investigating the project.

Private donations contributed most of the funds to develop the park on an Army plot in Prachuap Khiri Khan’s Hua Hin district and to erect the statues of the former kings, but some public funds were used as well.

Pheu Thai Party has raised questions about the project.

“The OAG has already reported some progress. Once the CNAC concludes [its investigations] into the case, I will invite all parties that |have questions to listen,” Paiboon said.

A source said the Rajabhakti Park Foundation chaired by Udomdej is in the process of being renamed the “Rajabhakti Park Foundation under the Royal Patronage of the Crown Prince” in response to a request submitted by Udomdej last year.


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