New panel to probe graft allegations

Military personnel answer calls at the junta-run complaint hotline centre as part of an anti-corruption panel set up to look into complaints lodged against unscrupulous soldiers and civil servants. (Photo by Thanarak Khunton)

A panel is to be set up to look into complaints lodged against "crooked" soldiers and civil servants as part of the National Council for Peace and Order's (NCPO) campaign to crack down on corruption.

The group will work under the NCPO complaint centres established at all military units nationwide by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, who wants to give people an additional channel where they can complain against dishonest officials.

Their complaints will eventually be forwarded to anti-corruption agencies, but they must first go through the scrutiny panel which will have to check the credibility of information provided to avoid any mistakes, deputy NCPO spokeswoman Sirichan Ngathong quoted army chief and NCPO secretary-general Chalermchai Sitthisart as saying, following a NCPO Secretariat Office meeting.

If the complaints directly concern alleged irregularities committed by military officers, the regional armies will step in to investigate, Col Sirichan said.

People are being made aware of this complaints channel which gives them an extra avenue other than via the 1299 Hot Line and PO boxes, she said.

Gen Chalermchai has ordered military agencies to help screen the complaints to convince people the government is getting serious about corruption. At present, there are up to 74 complaint centres, overseen by the Defence Ministry, Col Sirichan said.

"With these centres nationwide, we hope the public will have greater faith in the state's efforts to fight graft," she said.

The Prayut administration has made tackling corruption a key policy. The Centre for National Anti-Corruption, which is working in tandem with state anti-corruption agencies, have submitted to Gen Prayut lists containing the names of hundreds of allegedly corrupt officials for further action.

Several held high-ranking positions, including ministerial permanent secretaries.

Last month, Gen Prayut said he also receives complaints, such as alleged position buying within the police force.

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