Updated: Tambon officials summoned by military over trip to investigate corruption

Update: Watana Muangsook, an embattled Pheu Thai Party politician, posted on his Facebook account that nine people in total were summoned by the military from the 3rd Region military Base for joining the trip to investigate corruption allegations on the canal dredging project in Phitsanulok.

The Thai military have summoned tambon (sub-district) officials in the northern province of Phitsanulok and others who joined a field trip to investigate corruption allegations over a canal dredging project by the War Veterans Organisation.

Chaowalit Wichayasut, Acting Secretary-General of the Pheu Thai Party, told the media that on Wednesday, 11 May 2016, the military summoned the head and deputy head of the Hin Lat Tambon Administrative Organization (TAO), Wat Bot District in Phitsanulok, and the village headman of Ban Hin Lat for a discussion, according to a Thai News Agency report.

The military summoned the three for a talk because on 9 May, they had joined a group of Pheu Thai and Democrat Party politicians on a field trip to monitor a project of the War Veterans Organisation of Thailand (WVOT), an organisation under the Defence Ministry, to dredge canals in Phitsanulok.

The trip was organized because there have been rumours of corruption surrounding the canal dredging project.

Earlier, soldiers from the 3rd Region Military Base contacted Nakhon Machim, former Member of Parliament for Phitsanulok, summoning him for a discussion about his participation in the trip. The MP will report to the military on 14 May.

Chaowalit pointed out that the Pheu Thai Party is cooperating with the government to prevent corruption, as the field trip was organised to gather information and evidence on the corruption allegations for the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) and the Ombudsman’s Office. Therefore, the military summons should not have happened.

“We urge the government to stop summoning villagers to military camps because they are not really involved in the field trip,” the Thai News Agency quoted Chaowalit as saying.

The Pheu Thai Party Acting Secretary-General told the media that the canal dredging project is not being implemented by the WVOT, but a private company, which violates a resolution of the Finance Ministry that all machinery and labour required for the project must be from the WVOT. Therefore, the government should revoke the WVOT’s concession for the project.

He further said the local authorities in many provinces had already received a budget for the project.

The Pheu Thai Party will gather evidence on the alleged corruption before submitting it to the NACC and Ombudsman’s Office, Chaowalit said.

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