PM elevates graft fight to top priority
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha accepted a proposal by the National Defence College (NDC) Monday that the fight against corruption should be made "the core national strategy".
Prime Minister and National Council for Peace and Order chief, Prayuth Chan-ocha, presides over the unveiling of the 2015-2019 national strategic defence plan drafted by Class 56 of the National Defence College, at the Army Club on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road Monday. (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)
Speaking at a gathering of the NDC's Class 56, Gen Prayuth said combating corruption is the key policy of the government and the military regime, even though the issue is not one of the 11 fields earmarked for national reform.
"Now Thailand has both crisis and opportunity, the challenge is how we can turn crisis into opportunity," he said.
The prime minister said the crackdown on corruption is not listed as one of the reform fields because the issue is considered central to each category of reform. Stamping out corruption will be incorporated into those 11 fields, be it politics or public spending, he said.
The NDC is considered the country's top educational institution on strategy and security studies. Its students are senior officers from the three armed forces, the police, civilian officials from government agencies and high-profile executives from the private sector.
At Monday's gathering, Class 56 presented the 2015-2019 national strategic defence proposal which has listed corruption as the most urgent issue and challenge facing the country.
Under the proposal, tackling corruption must be made a national strategy and resources should be mobilised from all sectors to deal with it.
The proposal also calls for stricter enforcement of corruption-related laws and recommends use of social sanctions to deter fraudulent practices. Mechanisms should be established to allow for examination and confiscation of ill-gotten assets.
Legal amendments on the election of MPs and cabinet ministers are also suggested to make sure political office-holders are good enough for the job.
The proposal also suggests the National Legislative Assembly may be extended after a fresh election to baby-sit parliament.
Other suggestions include a need to strengthen the civic network and promote public participation and the possibility of allowing state officials to seek a transfer to work in politics on the assumption that politics should not be limited to politicians only.
Gen Prayuth said he is pleased the NDC shares a similar approach to the government and the National Council for Peace and Order.
"Today is my first day at Government House and this is my first official outing as the prime minister. I am standing here in the capacity of prime minister, the NCPO chief, and the army commander. The problems remain the same," he said.
He said another urgent issue is the administration of state affairs. He emphasised the need for all government agencies to work in unison.
He said it is also important to understand who is in charge when all agencies have to work together, and which is the key agency. Without this, money could go to waste, he said.
On national security, Gen Prayuth said all sectors are responsible but they have different roles to play, noting security is not just about border issues.
He also admitted the second phase of the road-map laid out by the NCPO is a tough task.
It is about building and promoting sustainability for the country in one year.
"We should help strengthen the bricks of democracy that are crumbling. I didn't steal power in the coup. The [Yingluck] government didn't have full power. So we stepped in to take over," he said.
Meanwhile, Justice Minister Gen Paiboon Khumchaya urged agencies under his supervision to step up their fight against graft and corruption.
Cases before the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission, which is responsible for investigating corruption practices by state officials, had increased by 168%, he said.
The minister also instructed justice agencies to compile outdated laws for revision and improvement.
Col Sirichan Ngathong, deputy spokeswoman for the army, said the secretariat office of the NCPO will be moved from the army headquarters to Ban Manangkasila.
She said the number of staff will be also cut as the NCPO is expected to reduce its role after the interim government takes office.
She noted the NCPO will meet once a week and will meet the government once a month.