“NACC Phuket officials are now collecting evidence from private businesses and individuals who claim to have been extorted by officials,” Preechanun Pumlek, Director of Phuket Provincial NACC Office, told The Phuket News today (Feb 22).
The investigations follow NACC Secretary-General Sansern Poljeak in Bangkok ordering the Phuket Office to launch investigations into Phuket officials.
“You do not have to wait to receive complaints from people to launch investigations. This is your job,” Mr Sansern said on Saturday (Feb 18). (See story here.)
Mr Sansern was invoking the NACC Phuket to take action after Phuket Governor Chockchai Dejamornthan last Tuesday (Feb 14) called an emergency meeting of top police, law enforcement officials and department heads on the island to order them to investigate a slew of corruption allegations against their own officials, including branches of the Royal Thai Police.
At the meeting he identified eight key areas to be investigated for corruption, as alleged by the National Anti-Corruption Organisation of Thailand. (See story here.)
Gov Chockchai ordered the island agency chiefs to report to him any findings of graft within their own offices and to report to him by Friday (Feb 17).
Those reports have yet to be made public.
Asked whether he thought corruption was present among Phuket officials, NACC Phuket chief Mr Preechanun today said, “It is true.”
“We have begun our investigations, but cooperation with private businesses and individuals is not good enough,” Mr Preechanun noted.
“We can only charge corrupt officials when we have strong enough evidence, but these people don’t want to fully cooperate by having police or the army join in the investigations. They are scared of the consequences if they have problems with any of these officials,” he said.
“However, we will still contact private businesses to talk with them this week,” he added.
Mr Preechanun said no deadline had been set for the NACC Phuket office to conclude its corruption investigations.
“I cannot estimate how long this will take. We must collect evidence, which takes time. After that we must send our evidence to the NACC in Bangkok, and they they will consider whether any further action will be taken,” he explained.