Monk urges rice probe progress

Luang Pu Buddha Issara will rally today at the Office of the Auditor-General demanding faster progress in the agency’s probe into the rice-pledging scheme.

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The monk, a co-leader of the anti-government protest movement based at the Chaeng Watthana site, said he and his supporters would ask the agency to speed up its probe into corrupt practices which may have contributed to delayed payments for pledged rice.

Luang Pu last week led rice farmers to visit the Attorney-General’s office and demanded it quickly proceed with legal cases concerning overdue rice-pledging payments. Some farmers have been waiting for months to be paid and are forced to rely on underground lenders to survive, he said.

Prosecutors have promised to file a complaint with the Central Administrative Court this week over the stalled payments.

The monk also insisted yesterday the Chaeng Watthana rally site would not be disbanded despite the decision by its parent body, the People’s Democratic Reform Committee, to merge four main rally sites into a single stage at Lumpini Park.

He said there is no reason why the Chaeng Watthana site should be closed. The monk earlier agreed to unblock more roads and allow state officials to return to work at the nearby government office complex.

He said the Chaeng Watthana stage would not be shut down until assurances are given from a new government that reform proposals will be considered and put into practice.

Luang Pu said the protesters have made efforts to draft blueprints for reforms and do not want them to go to waste. His group would focus its campaign on probes into corruption within government agencies.

However, he said the group’s next move will be to petition the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) to take legal action against people who threatened to divide the nation and set up a separate state.

His group has been collecting evidence and will submit it to DSI chief Tarit Pengdith.

If he refuses to take action, he will seek advice from the Office of the Attorney-General on how to proceed.

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