By THE NATION
Colonel Sirichan Ngathong, deputy spokeswoman of Royal Thai Army, said on Friday (February 21) that Army chief General Apirat Kongsompong had ordered deputy Army commander General Natthapol Nakpanich to appoint such a committee.
“This committee will be a part of General Apirat’s campaign to reform the Royal Thai Army to make the Armed Forces more transparent and end any illegal operations within the barracks,” she said. “The committee will have the power to call in any military personnel and request related documents to verify the details of any welfare-related operations to clear public doubts, especially those related to the livelihood of low-level military personnel.”
Sirichan added that the Thanarak Housing project will be among the top priority investigations of the committee. The project, which allows construction of houses for military personnel on state-owned lands, is believed to be the cause of the killing spree in Nakhon Ratchasima province earlier this month. Thirty people were shot dead and 58 others injured when an Army sergeant-major, apparently upset over an internal business deal with his superior gone wrong, went on a shooting rampage.
“Furthermore, all loans from the Savings Division of the Army Welfare Department will be investigated and closely monitored,” she added. “In the past there were Army personnel who loaned money to buy properties from private companies but were unable to pay back, leading to pending lawsuits between the department and the private sector.
“The Army is committed to improving its administration regarding the welfare of Army personnel to be transparent, verifiable and in compliance with governing rules and regulation,” Sirichan added. “We will make sure that no Army personnel are taken advantage of by any party and that they receive the full benefit that they are entitled to.”