By Piyaporn Wongruang
It was not yet 4.30pm, the time when government offices close, but the old four-storey Civil Servants Office Building was already silent, especially the second and third floors.
The car park in front of the building was almost empty, with only a few vans left. A “phu yai” (big boss) was still working in the corner of a room on the third floor. His driver yawned. All the other big bosses had left, he said.
Since the coup last year, the civil service-backed Internet Law Reform Dialogue or iLaw has complied a list of senior government officials transferred to other offices. Some of them have been promoted, while others have been transferred “to help” the Prime Minister’s Office and ended up in the Civil Servants Office Building opposite Government House as there is no room at the latter.
iLaw has noted that so far at least 93 senior officials have been transferred, mainly to the Prime Minister’s Office.
The minister attached to the Prime Minister's Office, ML Panadda Diskul, told The Nation that some senior officials had been transferred there for allegedly being negligent in their duty. In the near future, the office will receive more senior officials following the government’s bid to suppress corruption.
Panadda said the officials had been tasked with helping the Office of the PM’s Secretariat in an advisory role. He did not reveal the number of transferred officials at the office, only saying “top officials” with permanent secretary posts or an equal rank work there.
But by noting the names in the rooms at the Civil Servants Office Building, The Nation found that at least eight of them work on the second and third floors.
They include former Department of Special Investigation chief Tarit Pengdith, former ambassador Pasan Teparak, Pol General Thawee Sodsong and former Transport Ministry permanent secretary Somchai Siriwattanachoke. Several rooms are being renovated.
Some of the officials contacted by The Nation, including Tarit, refused to talk about their work, as did the phu yai who was still working when The Nation visited the office. Some of them are preparing for retirement quietly.
The phu yai’s driver said: “He comes to work every day and stays until the office is closed, but I’m not sure how much work he does.”
Chote Trachu, a former permanent secretary of the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry, said he was transferred several months ago and was working on an assignment, which mainly entailed being an adviser to a policy strategy subcommittee. He said he tried to deliver his expertise and hoped it was still useful to the country.