Pattaya Daily News

17 July 2010 :: 13:07:43 pm 31640

“Message-Gate” Scandal Decision Postponed by NACC

Thailand’s National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) on Friday postponed making a decision on the text message scandal involving Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. The commission cited further deliberation and investigation as the reasons behind the postponement.
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Bangkok, the 16th of July 2010: The scandal, budded “message-gate” by the national media, involves investigations into a possible breach of the Thai constitution regarding a request for national mobile phone services to send out messages on behalf of the premier, following his appointment in 2008.

Allegedly, acting on behalf of premier Abhisit, Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij requested three major mobile telephone operators to deliver some 17 million SMS messages, free of charge, in a bid to garner support for the new PM, who took office in December of 2008. The message in question read; “This is your new prime minister. May I ask you to help bring our country out of crisis. If you are interested in receiving further messages from me, please [reply] to 9191 (Bt3 per message).”

Consequently, a petition was filed with the NACC by Senator Ruangkrai Leekijwattana requesting the immediate removal of both Mr. Abhisit and Mr. Korn from office for alleged “abuse of power” and breaches of both NACC policies and the Thai constitution.

Mr. Leekijwattana has since motioned that the acts were in fact a violation of Article 103 of the NACC Act, which prohibits government officials from accepting any gifts or assets valued at Bt3,000 or more. Under the terms of the violations, the pair could rightly be impeached from their positions in accordance with the Thai constitution.

NACC Commissioner Klanarong Chantik, also the NACC spokesman, told a press conference on Friday that the NACC could not yet rule on the case due to the very serious implications any ruling has for the nation. Elaborating on the matter, Mr. Chantik explained that as the punishment involved the removal of both the Prime Minister and Finance Minister from power, further deliberation and investigation is necessary before a ruling can be made.

At present, the NACC is reportedly investigating whether the request by Mr. Korn might be understood as the government asking for cooperation, rather than the premier personally. In the past, telecom operators have cooperated with the government on various public relations issues, including the APEC summit and natural disaster alerts. This form of assistance is deemed in the confines of both NACC regulations and the Thai constitution.

The ongoing “message-gate” scandal is widely thought to be in response to the removal of one of Abhisit’s predecessors, Mr. Samak Sundravej. Samak was summarily removed from office for profiting from an appearance on a nationally televised cooking show while in office.

Reportedly, Mr. Sundaravej received Bt90,000 for his appearance on “Cooking and Grumbling,” a show he was involved heavily with prior to his rise to power. Mr. Sundravej was one of many active supporters of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra who fell foul of the courts.

Following Fridays announcement, the NACC did not set a new date for the decision on “message-gate”, but Mr. Chantik said that additional investigation was expected to be concluded as soon as possible.

Reporter : John Weston   Photo : Internet   Category : Thailand News

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