Governor Sukhumbhand risks suspension in corruption case

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation




BANGKOK GOVERNOR MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra risks suspension while his corruption case is reviewed by the Centre for National Anti-Corruption (CNAC).

“Our probe has found grounds of corruption in the city administration’s Bt39.5-million decorative-light project. So, we have forwarded the case to the CNAC for further action,” Auditor-General Pisit Leelavachiropas said yesterday.

He said it was up to the CNAC to decide whether to take further action.

The corruption allegation relates to Sukhumbhand’s Bangkok Light of Happiness initiative, which involved the setting up of lighting during the New Year festival. The project is mired in many alleged irregularities.

Established in late 2014, the CNAC is a national-level organisation intended to fight graft. Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha has transferred hundreds of officials, including locally elected ones, in response to CNAC reports.

Last month, Prayut exercised his power under Article 44 of the interim constitution to transfer 23 policemen and officials over corruption complaints.

Although Prayut has said he would not employ Article 44 in the Sukhumbhand case prior to the conclusion of the investigation, a petition from the CNAC may change that.

Sukhumbhand’s spokesman Wasant Meewong said the fact-finding process was far from over.

“But comments from the auditor-general have already affected the morale of working people,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sukhumbhand attended yesterday an important session of the Bangkok Metropolitan Council where the city administration sought a budget for the new fiscal year starting October 1.

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) is seeking a budget of Bt76.5 billion for the next fiscal year.

Sukhumbhand yesterday presented the budget proposal to the Bangkok Metropolitan Council. “It’s a balanced budget and matches the income the city administration will get,” he told the council yesterday.

The governor said the funds would be used in line with his policies of increasing happiness, quality of life, easy access to healthcare services, general safety and a more efficient flood-prevention system.

“We hope to make Bangkok a pleasant place to live in on a sustainable basis,” he said.

The proposal is expected to sail through the first reading today.

BMA deputy permanent secretary Jakkapan Phiewngarm separately disclosed that the BMA would need Bt183 million to repair the 176 fire vehicles that Austrian supplier Steyr-Daimler-Puch Spezialfahrzeug delivered in 2006. The vehicles have never been used due to a corruption scandal.

“The Bangkok Fire and Rescue Department is in the process of seeking the money from the BMA’s Budget Department,” he said.

The BMA has decided to use the fire vehicles after a Switzerland-based arbitrator ordered Steyr-Daimler-Puch Spezialfahrzeug to pay about Bt800 million to BMA for repairs last year.

Over and above the repair budget, the BMA will also have to pay a large sum for the storage of the vehicles.

Namyong Terminal Public Co Ltd, for example, wants Bt809 million in rental fees for parking the vehicles since 2006.

“We will negotiate with the firm on July 25,” he said.

NACC probes Bt40m BMA lights project

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation



THE NATIONAL Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) is gathering evidence to file charges against senior Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) officials who were responsible for the scandalous Bt40-million “Motif of Light” project. Bangkok Governor MR Sukhumbhand Paripatra is also facing corruption charges over the case.

Sansern Pholjiak, NACC’s secretary-general, said the anti-graft body will have to seek approval from its board to expand the investigation to cover the governor’s role in this case as the Office of Auditor-General’s findings show that Sukhumbhand violated the state procurement law.

So far, NACC’s subcommittee chaired by Suwana Suwanjutha has found that Chumphol Sampao-phol, a deputy Bangkok governor, and other officials, could be guilty for favouring a private company to win the contract.

Earlier, the Interior Ministry also ordered the BMA to set up a committee to investigate the case, which could lead to Sukhumbhand’s impeachment if two-thirds of the city’s councillors endorse the proceedings.

Sukhumbhand has threatened to sue the Office for damaging his reputation in relation to this case.

Governor rejects claim of irregularities in light show

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation–30290448.html


THE BANGKOK Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra threatened to sue the Office of the Auditor-General (OAG) yesterday for damaging his reputation.

Investigation conducted by the office has exposed alleged irregularities in the Bt39.5million festive lighting project, which was implemented during his term.

But Sukhumbhand declared that he was not worried about any probes into the project.


In response to OAG’s comment that the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) had handled the water management budget inefficiently, Sukhumbhand said his city administration had proceeded based on his election policies.

“I won’t run the capital based on OAG comments because it’s the people who have elected me to this post,” Sukhumbhand said.

He said he would continue working on his projects, especially the giant water drainage tunnel and a mass-transit route connecting the capital with Samut Prakan province.

Sukhumbhand’s future is hanging in the balance but Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said he would not intervene in the justice process over alleged abuse of power by the governor concerning procurement for the New Year light show.

Prayut said there was no need to exercise his authority under Article 44 of the Interim Charter after the Interior Ministry yesterday set up a committee to pursue criminal charges against Sukhumbhand and other officials of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration responsible for the “Bangkok Light of Happiness” show that run from December 30, 2015, to January 30.

The OAG said the BMA project was in violation of the state procurement law, while the bid selection process was “questionable”.

Its findings were endorsed by the State Audit Commission.

Prayut said it wasn’t necessary yet for the Centre for National Anti-Corruption Commission (CNAC) to take up the case, even though the body has generally taken swift action in alleged graft and related cases since 2014.

Interior Minister Anupong Paochinda said his ministry was acting on the OAG’s findings and recommendations for criminal, civil and other actions against |the alleged wrongdoers, but had |no direct authority to remove |the governor from his office.

He said the case had to reach its final stage before there could be proceedings to impeach the governor or suspend him from performing his official duty.

Sukhumbhand’s term as governor is due to expire next March.

A two-thirds majority of Bangkok’s councillors is required to vote to remove the governor.


BMA backtracks on Mahakan Fort community

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation


THE OPERATION to clear the Mahakan Fort Community will begin next month, when every resident will have to move out and the area will be turned into a park as planned, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) confirmed yesterday.

Sakchai Boonma, director of the BMA’s Land Acquisition Division, said yesterday that the relocation operation would kick off in early August with the demolition of 10 houses, whose owners have already been compensated. The rest of the community will be relocated later.

“We will again display an announcement calling on the community to move out, before we start working on the operation. We will also negotiate with the rest of the community and have them move out so we can continue the beautification project as planned,” Sakchai said.

“We have to take action or the residents will not move out.”

As for whether the BMA spoke to the community last month and promised to consider a plan from academics to let the community stay and develop as a living museum, he said the proposal was impossible to implement.


“The community is living on reclaimed land, so plans to let them continue living there is unrealistic, not to mention the legal aspect of it. We don’t mind preserving some of the historic houses and letting some members of the community take part in developing the area. But people will still have to move out,” he said.

Pornthep Buranaburidet, a community leader, said residents were shocked by the BMA’s latest decision, especially since authorities had spoken to the community on June 23 and agreed to find the best solution for both sides.

“The BMA did not tell us anything about this decision and we only learned about this from the media. We did not expect this from the BMA because in recent talks, we had decided to help each other,” Pornthep said.

“Initially we were relieved that they were sincere enough to talk to us directly, but now things have turned out this way. I have no words anymore.”

Last month, Bangkok deputy governor Pol General Aswin Kwanmuang had promised in front of community members, academics and the media that the BMA was not planning to relocate the community and would consider recommendations from academics to consider the best solution for the prolonged conflict.

Aswin also said that if the BMA did not take action against the community for settling on reclaimed land, it would be punished by state auditors for failing to perform its duties.

Meanwhile, Pornthep said the community had not yet contacted the BMA to complain about the decision, adding that the community planned to explain their stance to the National Anti-Corruption Commission and the Ombudsman’s Office.

“We want them to understand the people and the heritage of the community. We do not want to march to their office, because that will be seen as us putting pressure on them,” he said.

The Mahakan Fort Community has been facing eviction threats from the BMA since 1992. The last eviction notice was served in April, but no action was taken.


BMA denies reprieve for Pak Klong Talad flower vendors

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation


Night vendors from Bangkok’s iconic flower market Pak Klong Talad camp outside City Hall yesterday as representatives attended a meeting with officials seeking another six-month delay of the city’s closure of the market.

Night vendors from Bangkok’s iconic flower market Pak Klong Talad camp outside City Hall yesterday as representatives attended a meeting with officials seeking another six-month delay of the city’s closure of the market.

ABOUT 30 vendors at Bangkok’s iconic flower market Pak Klong Talad appealed yesterday for the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) to allow them another six months to run businesses there, after the deadline last Saturday requiring all vendors to leave.

Group leader Pirom Chitakorn said other markets proposed as alternatives would not attract enough customers and could not host all of the vendors, which justified another three to six-month postponement in closing the market.

Pirom urged the city and government officials to recognise the importance of the market as a hub for retailing flowers supplied by farmers from across the country.

However, after speaking yesterday afternoon with Yuttapan Meechai, assistant secretary to the BMA governor, and BMA adviser Natthanan Kalayasiri, Pirom said vendors must obey the law and quit the market as the city reclaims the area for public use as a footpath.

Phra Nakhon district office director Somchai Traipittayakul told reporters that the meeting went well and vendors understood the city’s policy and the necessity to regulate the area, which will be guarded by security officials 24 hours a day for the next two months.


Commenting on last Friday night’s blockage of a road by 300 vendors near the Memorial Bridge, BMA chief adviser Wanlop Suwandee said the city had tried to talk with vendors to move them to alternative marketplaces and had already extended a six-month postponement. However, about 50 vendors still operate businesses in the area.

‘Respect the law’

“There will be no more negotiations for a time extension because everyone must respect the law,” he said.

Deputy clerk Jakkapan Phewngam said vendors who operated during the day had stopped doing business at the market since April 1, while the deadline for night vendors was June 30.

“We negotiated 10 times before so they must respect the law because the time is up,” he said, adding that the city effort to regulate footpaths had already resolved 46 problems in 22 districts without issue, so Pak Klong Talad vendors had to abide by the law as other business owners have done.


Sukhumbhand faces pressure to resign

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation


Bangkok Governor MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra gestures while addressing the media during his press conference about the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration’s controversial “Bangkok Light of Happiness” project at City Hall yesterday.

Bangkok Governor MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra gestures while addressing the media during his press conference about the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration’s controversial “Bangkok Light of Happiness” project at City Hall yesterday.

Defiant Bangkok governor vows to stay on; defends controversial project.

MR SUKHUMBHAND PARIBATRA, the embattled Bangkok governor, is coming under pressure to call it quits after the Office of the Auditor-General found irregularities and implicated him along with eight others over the Bt39.5-million “Bangkok Light of Happiness” project.

However, the governor, a deputy leader of the Democrat Party, remains defiant and vows to continue his work.

He said he was surprised the A-G’s office had hurriedly concluded that there was graft in the procurement of LED (light-emitting diode) equipment and accessories used in the project, which ran from December 30 to January 30.

Vilas Chanpitak, a former Democrat MP from Bangkok, urged Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to exercise his powers under Article 44 of the interim charter to suspend Sukhumbhand, citing the A-G’s graft finding.


The Pheu Thai Party also called on the Bangkok governor to show responsibility.

However, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krau-ngam said the governor could still continue his duties. The governor will be required to step down if the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) accepts the case from the Office of the Auditor-General and seeks his prosecution.

The Bangkok governor may have to reconsider his status if the NACC accepts the case or the military’s ruling National Council for Peace and Order issues an order suspending him from office, which is currently not the case, Wissanu said.

Justice Minister Paiboon Koomchaya said he had not received a report from the Office of the Auditor-General, which may include a recommendation on the governor’s status.

NACC chairman Watchara-phol Prasarnratchakit said that at this stage the Bangkok governor could continue performing his official duties, as the NACC has not received the auditors’ dossier.

Despite all the graft allegations, in which several other city officials were also implicated, Sukhumbhand told a press conference that the project was economically worthwhile, with more than 1.7 million Thai and foreign tourists visiting the extravaganza during the 33-day New Year festive season.

‘Boost to tourism’

The project was designed to boost the city’s tourism and other economic activities while costing only about Bt20 per visitor, since the budget was only about Bt39 million.

“We also got a lot of attention on social media during the Bangkok Light of Happiness show, so maybe 16 million to 17 million people got to see the event.

“This was also not the first time we spent money to promote the city’s tourism. Previously, we spent more than Bt20 million for an event at Klong Padung Krungkasem.

“It’s an appropriate policy and if the Office of the Auditor-General thinks there are problems, they should have let us know. But we heard nothing from them,” he said.

Sukhumbhand said he would sue anyone suggesting that he and his team were guilty of violating the anti-graft law on procurement, since the auditors’ finding is just the start of a long process on this matter.

On the Democrat Party’s position on this matter, he said he was still the party’s deputy leader and there had been no meeting, so any statements regarding this matter were not based on a party resolution.

Vilas of the Democrat Party said the two deputy Bangkok governors, Amorn Kitchavengkul and Chumpol Samapophon, were not named in the auditors’ report even though they were proponent of the project and Chumpol was the official who granted approval for it.


4,400 phone-booths on footpaths to be removed

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation


File Photo

File Photo

Bangkok governor MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra had instructed to remove unauthorised phone booths, plus legal ones installed at wrong spots or which block pedestrian walkways.

Deputy director of the BMA’s Department of Public Works, Prasan Pitakworarat, revealed after an executive meeting yesterday that some 1,000 of 4,417 phone booths to be removed belong to True Corp Plc, he said.

Next week, the BMA will meet with representatives of TOT Plc, CAT Telecom Plc and respective district offices to discuss the action plan. Phone booth owners would also be contacted to determine whether they will remove the booths themselves or ask the city to do it, he said.