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05BANGKOK6958 MORE CONTROVERSY WITH THE SELECTION OF THE NATIONAL COUNTER CORRUPTION COMMISSION

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“44570”,”11/7/2005 1:45″,”05BANGKOK6958″,”Embassy Bangkok”,

 

“UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY”,

 

“05BANGKOK3521|05BANGKOK3635|05BANGKOK5917|05BANGKOK6269”,

 

“This record is a partial extract of the original cable.

 

The full text of the original cable is not available.”,

 

“UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 006958

 

SIPDIS

 

INFO ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS

HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI

 

SENSITIVE

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PGOV, TH, NCCC – National Counter Corruption Commission

SUBJECT: MORE CONTROVERSY WITH THE SELECTION OF THE

NATIONAL COUNTER CORRUPTION COMMISSION

 

REF: A. BANGKOK 3521

B. BANGKOK 3635

C. BANGKOK 5917

D. BANGKOK 6269

 

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. Thailand,s anti-corruption process

suffered a serious blow with the November 1 announcement of

the selection of nine potentially biased nominees to serve in

the government,s National Counter Corruption Commission

(NCCC). Critics allege that most of the nominees have close

ties with Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and the ruling

Thai Rak Thai (TRT) political party and will render legal

judgements accordingly. The fear expressed here is that the

continued delay in filling positions in the Thai

government,s anti-corruption agencies will allow the

seemingly endless parade of corruption allegations against

individuals connected to the TRT to continue unchecked. END

SUMMARY.

 

——————————————— —-

THE NCCC HAS BEEN SHUT DOWN FOR THE PAST 6 MONTHS

——————————————— —-

 

2. (SBU) The NCCC is the constitutionally mandated

government agency charged to investigate corrupt practices by

individuals in government. In May 2005, the NCCC shut down

completely after all 9 of its members resigned in disgrace

under charges of financial malfeasance (reftels A and B). In

the interim, accusations of corruption within the government

continue to accumulate. The increasing number of cases are

being buried in the avalanche of newer ones. The latest

tally is reportedly over 1,000 individual cases, and includes

candidates that are finalists for consideration for

membership in the NCCC.

 

3. (SBU) After several months of considering candidates,

on October 25th the NCCC Selection Committee *- a mixed

group of lawmakers, judges, academics, and politicians -*

presented the Senate a list of eighteen names for the

Senate,s consideration. The Senate is charged with

selecting the final nine commissioners from that list, which

is the final step in the appointment process, save the royal

endorsement from the King. Like the Senate that selects

them, the candidates are supposed to be non-political and

possess strong credentials in the field of public service.

 

——————————————— —

PERHAPS UNCONSTITUTIONAL, BUT THEY VOTED ANYWAY

——————————————— —

 

4. (SBU) The selection process was thrown into near chaos

on November 1st, when one of the candidates for the NCCC

unexpected announced he no longer wanted to be considered for

the posting. Former Army Commander-in-Chief General Prawit

Wongsuwan, considered by many to be a sure thing for one of

the nine positions due to his ties with the ruling party,

decided to withdraw his name from the process, citing that

with his age and health he did not believe he could fulfill

his nine year term. Although most political pundits agree

that General Prawit,s age and health are not the real reason

for his withdrawal, they are split as to what his real

motivations were. All agree that his move has thrown a

spanner into the process.

 

5. (SBU) The Thai Constitution requires that the Senate

select nine commissioners out of a group of eighteen

finalists. General Prawit,s 11th hour withdrawal reduced

the list to seventeen. Instead of meeting the Constitutional

requirement and finding an 18th finalist, the Senate -* amid

serious in-fighting -* ultimately chose to select the nine

members from the group of seventeen. The vote was called by

Senate Speaker Suchon, a TRT-leaning politician who had

previously come under fire for his role in forcing the issue

in the ongoing Auditor General affair (reftel C). Many

Senators walked out of the Senate to protest Suchon,s

decision, and encouraged by concurring views from the

opposition parties, are already preparing to file this case

with the Constitutional Court.

 

——————————————— ———

COMBATANTS AGAINST CORRUPTION, OR PART OF THE PROBLEM?

——————————————— ———

 

6. (SBU) After spending most of their time debating

whether or not they should vote at all, the Senate selected

the nine commissioners after two rounds of voting. Seven of

the nine candidates selected have very close and obvious ties

to the Prime Minister or the TRT. They include:

 

–A Deputy Secretary General to the PM, who is also the

relative of the PM,s wife;

–A Chairman of the Defense Ministry,s Advisory Board;

–A Deputy Chief of the National Intelligence Office;

–A former police academy classmate of the PM;

–A Provincial Administrator that defended the PM and TRT

after the Tak Bai incident;

–A former professor of the PM and advisor to the PM,s

office;

–A Supreme Court judge that has previously backed the TRT,

and who is also the brother of a TRT MP and the party,s

legal advisor

 

Although the Senate selected the new NCCC commissioners in

just two rounds, their quick vote has come under fire and

raises question as to whether they are truly non-partisan

(Comment: Thailand,s Senators are, by definition, supposed

to be non-political) or if they have TRT leanings. One

Senator, Jon Ungphakorn, accused the TRT outright of

organizing a bloc vote among TRT-friendly Senators to ensure

that nine people would be selected. The Senate has already

been accused of this practice in recent months with the

selection of the National Broadcast Committee (Reftel D).

 

———————————————

THE NEXT ROUND: JUDGES AND A ROYAL EVALUATION

———————————————

 

7. (SBU) Two obstacles remain before the nine members of

the NCCC can assume their posts. First, Thailand,s

Constitutional Court may be requested to decide whether or

not the selection of nine commissioners from a group of

seventeen is legal. Although this step hasn,t started yet,

it is all but certain to occur given the sharp criticism from

Senators and the opposition parties. If the Constitutional

Court declares the selection was illegal, it only delays the

inevitable, as the nomination committee need only nominate an

eighteenth person before they can proceed. The second step

is royal endorsement from the King, which is always the final

step for any national-level nomination process in Thailand.

It is difficult to guess how the King will react, but it more

likely will be negative if the nominees are forwarded without

a thorough constitutional review.

 

8. (SBU) Comment. Any controversy or setback that

further delays the implementation of an unbiased NCCC favors

the TRT. Although allegations against TRT officials will

continue to be raised during this impasse, the lack of legal

action could steadily diminish public confidence in the

ability of the system to punish government wrongdoing. End

Comment.

BOYCE

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Written by thaicables

June 24, 2011 at 2:01 pm

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