Veera, Yingluck and the NACCBy Bangkok Pundit Mar 30, 2014 11:00PM UTC
Veera in the Bangkok Post:
Last week, the prime minister posted a long message on her Facebook page complaining she was treated unfairly by the NACC and questioned what she implied were the NACC’s double-standard practices.
She pointed out that the normal practice of the NACC when approaching cases of alleged corruption, a fact-finding subcommittee is first established to probe the case and its findings are later submitted to the “big committee” or the commission. In her case, the subcommittee was bypassed and her case landed straight with the “big committee”.
Ms Yingluck suggested the NACC was hasty in concluding case in just 21 days whereas the probe against the other political office holders apparently referring to former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva over the rice price guarantee scheme took over four years and the case is still pending.
She said her legal team was given only a 49-page file from the NACC during the 21-day period and was granted 15 more days until yesterday to prepare the defence. The team asked for more documents from the NACC and was given a 280-page file which her lawyers would have just three days to study but the lawyers would need more time to study and asked for a 45-day extension of the March 31 deadline which was rejected by the NACC.
Did the NACC take just 21 days to investigate the case against the prime minister and to decide by unanimous vote to accuse her of negligence of duty regarding the rice pledging scheme as alleged by the prime minister?
The following is a timeline of the activities pertaining to the rice scheme which will help answer the above question.
- Oct 15, 2012, the Mai (New) party asked the NACC to probe the rice pledging scheme.
- Nov 6, 2012, the private sector’s anti-corruption organisation asked the NACC to probe suspected corruption in the rice pledging scheme.
- Dec 3, 2012, then-Democrat MP Warong Dejkitvikrom of Phitsanuloke petitioned the NACC to investigate alleged corruption in the rice scheme and the government-to-government rice deal with China which was eventually proven to be non-existent.
- June 5, 2013, Dr Warong asked the NACC to investigate alleged corruption in the government’s offloading of the 2011-12 rice crops from the rice stockpiles.
- Dec 3, 2013, NACC spokesman Vicha Mahakhun announced that allegations of corruption in the rice scheme were found and the investigation was expanded.
- Jan 16, 2014, the NACC resolved unanimously to indict former commerce minister Boonsong Teriyaphirom and 14 other officials and businessmen of corruption concerning the G-to-G rice deal with China. The NACC also decided by unanimous vote to conduct an inquiry on the prime minister for alleged negligence of duty in connection with the rice scheme.
Having seen that timeline, it is totally untrue that the NACC took only 21 days to probe the alleged corruption in the rice pledging scheme which, in fact, started over a year ago.
The prime minister is not facing an investigation of a corruption case which is different from Mr Boonsong and 14 other officials and businessmen. She is facing an accusation of negligence of duty for not properly overseeing the rice pledging scheme in her capacity as chair of the National Rice Policy Committee and the conduct of the officials under her supervision.
BP: Does Veera even bother to read what he wrote? He asks the question “Did the NACC take just 21 days to investigate the case against the prime minister and to decide by unanimous vote to accuse her of negligence of duty regarding the rice pledging scheme as alleged by the prime minister?”, but then states it is totally untrue that the “NACC took only 21 days to probe alleged corruption in the rice pledging scheme“. He asks the question correctly, but his answer doesn’t answer the question he asked. It was a poor attempt at smoke-and-mirrors. He skips over what he says in the previous paragraph where he says that it was on January 16 that the NACC decided to conduct an inquiry on the PM. No doubt the inquiry would use the information previously gathered, but it skipped the sub-committee and it was not until January 16 that inquiry turned to Yingluck.
In other words, she does not need to defend herself on the corruption case and does not need to know every detail of the alleged corruption probe against Mr Boonsong and his gang. She needs to know the information about her alleged negligence of duty and needs to defend herself on the grounds that she did not ignore her duty nor the warnings voiced by the Office of the Auditor-General and Ms Supa Piyajitti, deputy permanent secretary of finance.
Her suggestion that the NACC is biased against her or has adopted double-standard practices is after all part of the campaign strategy of the Pheu Thai party to discredit the NACC ahead of its ruling on whether to officially indict her or not.
BP: This is actually where you see the entire case against Yingluck is undermined. It is stated that Yingluck ignored warnings, but so far in Veera’s timeline we have allegations of corruption. It is the NACC which investigates such allegations not the Prime Minister. It wasn’t until January that the NACC found enough evidence to against Boonsong and others. It is not as if they provided all of this information on the allegations of corruption to Yingluck in the warnings. You may ask, how do you know this BP? Well you can see, even after January 16, they are not even providing this information to her let alone before. Veera thinks it is unnecessary to know all this information. This is the problem with the warnings. There was not enough evidence at the time of the warnings to take action against Boonsong. It was only in January 2014 that the NACC found sufficient evidence to proceed with the case – we are not talking about a prosecution let alone a conviction. If you are going to argue that Yingluck was negligent in her duty, if it was so obvious at the time of the warnings, why had not sufficient evidence been found against Boonsong and others then? If it took an investigative agency with powers of investigation until January, how was Yingluck meant to be able to establish anything before this?