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Majority agree with seizure of rice case suspects’ assets: poll

MOST PEOPLE surveyed recently agreed with the use of Article 44 of the interim charter to empower the Department of Legal Execution to seize assets of those responsible for the controversial rice-pledging scheme, according to Bangkok Poll results released yesterday.

Of 1,150 people surveyed nationwide, 63 per cent wanted sweeping powers to do so, more than 32 per cent want facts to be discovered quickly and another 31 per cent want the cases to proceed faster. The survey "What do people think about proceedings in the rice-pledging scheme cases?" was conducted from last Wednesday to Friday. Almost 37 per cent of respondents, meanwhile, disagreed with the use of such power as they preferred the cases to follow usual justice procedures and another 11 per cent opined that invoking Article 44 could be seen as political abuse. The respondents' answers followed Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha's use of Article 44 to empower the Justice Ministry department to enforce laws to ensure that alleged wrongdoings by state officials are dealt with through civil liability lawsuits.

Prayut's order on September 13 was issued a few days before the Commerce Ministry ordered former commerce minister Boonsong Teriyapirom and five ex-ministerial officials involved in alleged bogus government-to-government rice sales to pay Bt 20 billion in compensation. Asked what they thought about the Commerce Ministry's order, 44 per cent said there should be other punishments in addition to the seizure of assets, almost 28 per cent said the action was "fair", and more than 14 per cent thought that the seizure was too small in scale. Asked how the proceedings would impact Thai society, 35 per cent said it would make politicians aware of honesty, almost 31 per cent said it would demonstrate how laws can practically punish corrupt politicians, and more than 22 per cent said it would become a case study for Thai politics. Asked to what extent they expected the proceedings to deter officials from being corrupt, 37 per cent thought that it should do a fair bit, almost 24 per cent thought it would "do much" while more than 21 per cent thought it would not do much. Asked how much people were satisfied with the proceedings, 33 per cent said they were fairly much satisfied, 39 per cent said they were much satisfied and 27 per cent said they were fairly satisfied.

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