Let investigators do their job
- 30 Dec 2018 at 04:00
- WRITER: POSTBAG
Re: "NACC cops backlash in Prawit case", (BP, Dec 28).
Like Caesar's wife, Defence Minister Prawit must be above suspicion as to where he got the 22 ultra-luxury watches allegedly worth 36.9 million baht. NACC chairman Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit announced that his former boss, Gen Prawit, didn't make a false asset declaration -- but the Anti-Corruption Organisation of Thailand and many others aren't convinced.
The NACC and Gen Prawit should be completely transparent about the matter, for as police often say to suspects, "If you're innocent, why try to hide things?" Gen Prawit, the NACC, and the heirs of the alleged true owner, Phatthawat Suksriwong, should put the documents, watch serial numbers, interview reports, and so on on the web, with waivers of confidentiality for all journalists and anti-corruption organisations, and let investigative journalists do their job. For example, did Khun Phattawat really loan other ultra-expensive watches/money to his St Gabriel classmates for decades in return for nothing? Did Khun Phattawat have children whom Gen Prawit might have helped in return for the "loan"? The Swiss manufacturers must have warranty records as to the initial owners -- how did the timepieces find their way to the alleged owner -- or Gen Prawit? Have import duties been paid on any of the watches, each of which is many times over the duty-free import limit -- including those "lent" to other friends? If not, then the owner is liable for massive fines and possible jail time.
Elections are just two months off, and millions don't believe Gen Prayut has been serious in fighting corruption because of this case. Show the "Doubting Thomases" that they're wrong, and come clean.
In his response to those Thai citizens to whom happiness has not been returned by its scrupulously timed ruling on the deputy prime minister general's sufficiently impressive wrist adornments, the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) secretary-general is certainly correct when he insists that "The NACC's work had been done in accordance with the law."
Why does such loyal service by the rule of law so upset the unhappy ingrates? Who, after all, would go to all the trouble of selflessly staging a coup to make up a new rule of law without the natural expectation that rulings be made in strict accordance with their reformed rule of law?
Make voting compulsory
A respected columnist draws our attention to how many countries are suffering from the manner in which democracy has been rendered dysfunctional in that the wishes of the people are not being achieved.
The reasons are obvious. In the US and UK, for example, analysis shows that the effective dictators in power are only there because of the support of one quarter of the US people and roughly one third in the UK, despite their swaggering claims and attitudes. Once elected they take the role of self-interested dictators, adopting an irritating "I know best " attitude, that is creating, I believe it's true to say, harmful divisions in those countries.
Tony Blair taking the UK into the costly and disastrous Iraq war against the wishes of almost everybody else is a fairly recent example. The problem is that so many people did not support the election of the current leaders, and only complain when it is too late. Hence profoundly divided nations!
Australia is one of 22 nations that embrace compulsory voting, and, therefore, any Aussie will tell you, do not experience such a farce. All countries accept that certain areas such as road speed limits, jury service and various other impositions are mandatorily recognised as being for the general good. There is surely no greater civic duty than to ensure the wishes of all the people in a general election.
The reality is that to obtain the actual will of the people in a democracy, and not just the views of those, particularly with a chip on their shoulder, everybody must vote. In fact, one could argue that so-called democratic elections are now being handed to a minority of extremists in each case.
Frankly, one could argue that opinion polls, properly supervised, better represent all the people because they include potential non-voters in their results! It is vital to take this most important of all issues in hand. First, make voting compulsory. Second, give everybody a day off work so that they have no excuse not to. Even give them a small incentive to do so!
Get immigration together
I was surprised to read about the really large number of tourists who entered Thailand in 2017-2018 -- close to 40 million with about one third from China. A welcome and well-deserved source of revenue for this beautiful country and its friendly people. But when I arrived at Suvarnabhumi airport on Dec 28 from Sydney somewhat ahead of schedule, shortly after 1am, it was indeed chaotic at immigration. It took me 3 hours, including 90 minutes at immigration.
First of all, the arriving Chinese tourists obviously had to apply for a "visa on arrival" and filled out the forms in packs of hundreds on the airport floor. The following passport checks had about 1,000 people queuing up in the waiting grids with maybe only half of the check-booths staffed. The final disgust came when at 2am, the work shift changed and another half of the already-reduced personnel left and closed the counters.
If masses of people arrive 24 hours a day, the passport controls have to be on full duty 24/7 as well. Maybe the Chinese tourists are more tolerant and used to waiting in big crowds, but for us Europeans used to open borders, such an experience upon arrival is bad and unnecessary.
CONTACT: BANGKOK POST BUILDING
136 Na Ranong Road Klong Toey, Bangkok 10110
Fax: +02 6164000 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
All letter writers must provide full name and address.
All published correspondence is subject to editing at our discretion.