Paiboon backs tough anti-corruption bill
Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam warned Tuesday that an anti-corruption bill seeking to cover all graft could wind up nabbing civil servants for theft of government property if they charge their mobile phones at work. (File photo by Thanarak Khunton)
Justice Minister Paiboon Koomchaya threw his support Tuesday behind a corruption bill which extends punishments to cover parents and children of state authorities found guilty of dishonest acts.
The bill, now being scrutinised by the Council of State, the government's legal arm, is a lighter version of the "seven generation bill", a draft law introduced in the Surayud Chulanont government six years ago to punish corrupt officials, along with family members going back seven generations.
The original version was criticised for being too harsh, Gen Paiboon admitted, though he personally agrees with tough punishments, which act as a brake on corruption in state agencies.
"But eventually the law is just words," said the minister, also chief of the Centre for National Anti-Corruption. Whether transparency is firmly established must depend on persons and organisations in addition to the law, he said.
What worries Gen Paiboon is that some people have started talking about plans to have "nominees" act on their behalf to avoid harsh punishments under the bill.
The draft law, officially known as a conflict of interest bill, was unveiled earlier to the public by Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam who warned state authorities against its penalties which he said will be "more fearful than other laws"
The law will scare the authorities off of actions that may even cover using electricity at their agencies to charge their mobile phone batteries or driving state cars for personal purposes, he said.
The bill was dusted off after politicians who succeeded the Surayud administration paid no heed to the seven-general bill, said National Reform Steering Assembly (NRSA) member Sangsit Piriyarangsan.
Those politicians rose to political power because of strong financial support from their businesses and families and they did not want anything to affect this money politics, he said.
Under this military government, there is a chance to revive the bill but in softer form, Mr Sangsit added.
The Council of State is tweaking the bill also by considering proposals forwarded by the NRSA.