There was nothing wrong in Defence Ministry permanent secretary General Preecha Chan-o-cha’s son securing Bt26.9 million worth of Army construction projects, Defence Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan said yesterday.
Prawit said, “Anyone can place a bid. There is no rule to ban Preecha’s son [Pathompol, also a nephew of Prime Minister Prayut] from bidding for the contracts as long as he proposed the lowest price and the right specifications to meet the requirements of the Third Army Area.”
Prawit said it was normal for the public to |have doubts about the contracts because of |the surname Chan-o-cha.
He added he was not worried if the allegation would impact on the Army’s image and reputation.
Preecha recently was also accused of misconduct and dereliction of duty for employing Army resources to fund or facilitate extraneous projects. The accusations stem from social media criticism after his wife Pongphan, head of the Wives Association of the Office of the Permanent Secretary for Defence, recently presided over the opening of a dyke in the northern province of Chiang Mai named after her.
She was criticised after pictures showed a sign bearing her image and name, which was erected near the newly constructed “Mae Pongphan Development” dyke. Critics said the publicly funded dyke should not have been named after her.
The Association for the Protection of the Thai Constitution lodged a petition with the National Anti-Corruption Commission against Preecha and other officials at the defence ministry over alleged misconduct.
General Preecha, the younger brother of PM Prayut, revealed that the budget for construction of the dyke was Bt7,800 and it came from the Office of the Permanent Secretary for Defence.
“Soldiers and villagers helped construct the dyke. The name ‘Mae Pongphan Development’ dyke was given by the villagers,” he said.
Preecha said WAOPSD was a direct unit under the office of the permanent secretary and the office can allocate funds to support their projects.