Anti-graft agency to summon caretaker PM Yingluck on rice scandal


BANGKOK, Jan 17 – The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) said today that it will instruct caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to acknowledge charges of negligence of duty in the government-initiated rice subsidy scandal.

The NACC resolved yesterday to set up a sub-committee to probe Ms Yingluck for negligence of duty after deciding to bring graft charges against 15 people including former commerce minister Boonsong Teriyapirom with cheating in rice deals with traders under the rice pledging programme.

According to the NACC, the Commerce Ministry claimed it had sold rice on a government-to-government basis but there was no shipment from Thailand to other countries.

Vitthaya Arkompitak, NACC deputy secretary general, said the NACC will officially send the list of sub-committee members to Ms Yingluck who can object if she disagrees.

“In case of objection, NACC members will decide if her reasons are acceptable. If so, the NACC will change some members to be fair to her. If not, Ms Yingluck will have to sign to acknowledge the investigation,” he said.

He said the NACC may either inform her by mail or summon her to personally acknowledge the charges within seven days, as imposed by the law.

The date has yet to be set, he said, adding that he could not say how long the investigation process will take, depending on available witnesses, evidence and details of the charges.

In an interview to 15 foreign media today, Ms Yingluck said that she believed the political conflicts will end after the Feb 2 general election.

She said she has not shut the door for different groups–particularly the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC)–to hold talks.

However, the PDRC proposals cannot be executed under the Constitution, she said.

Asked about escalating demands for her resignation, Ms Yingluck said she must carry on her caretaker duties until the new government takes office

“I am only remaining in power because of my duty to hold the government together. The only way to listen to the real voices of the people is through voting in the general elections,” she said.

Asked what benefit an election will have to Thailand today, Ms Yingluck said it will be undemocratic if (people) do not go to the polls and she has launched a parallel forum for national reform so that the country can move on.

She said only a group of people has been dissatisfied with the government and her family has become the victim (of hatred).

“My family is being victimized. No one wants to be hated and insulted. It is my duty to safeguard democracy. I would like  the general elections to take place as soon as possible,” she said.

Ms Yingluck said a coup would not solve the problem and the government has done its best to maintain peace and to avoid using weapons in dealing with protesters.

Asked if she has consulted her brother, ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, she said she has never done that but only discussed with deputy prime ministers who have worked with her and security officials.

Regarding the NACC decision to investigate her on negligence charges in connection with the rice subsidy scheme, Ms Yingluck stood firm that the policy resulted from the government’s intention to help low-income farmers.