Friday, August 22, 2008

Eyebrows raised over 'specialists'


Eyebrows raised over 'specialists'


Civil servants in the Justice Ministry threw up their hands in frustration when the names of the newly-appointed nine specialists to the Department of Special Investigation's (DSI) special litigation committee were announced recently.

When they looked at the list, they realised that political influence had surfaced everywhere.

One of the new specialists is Chaiyawat Wibulsawat, the former central bank governor. His economic expertise is indisputable and he is said to have won praise from former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

After stepping down as central bank governor, he was appointed chairman of the board of the Krung Thai bank after serving as board chairman of SC Asset Corporation, a property development company established by the Shinawatra family.

Audit commissioner Raweeporn Kuhirun is the only woman among the specialists. She was nominated by DSI chief Pol Col Thawee Sodsong.

Mrs Raweeporn was a classmate of former transport minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit and Education Minister Somchai Wongsawat at the National Defence College.

She once disagreed with the tax audit on the sale of shares in Shin Corp to Temasek Holdings via Ample Rich by the Shinawatra family.

It is not hard to see why Pol Gen Luan Panrosthip, the former chief of the Central Investigation Bureau, made it as one of the committee members.

Being the former boss of the present DSI chief as well as enjoying close ties with Pol Gen Sombat Amornwiwat, another former DSI chief who is the younger brother of the present justice minister Sompong Amornwiwat, speak volumes about his appointment.

Former attorney-general Rewat Chamchalerm was also appointed as a member of the committee. After retiring, he served as state broadcaster MCOT board chairman with Mingkwan Sangsuwan, now the commerce minister, in charge as president.

But the new special litigation panel is not without some good names. Vasit Dejkunjorn, a former police chief, and Pradit Ekmanee, a former Criminal Court chief justice, are included.

Pol Gen Vasit was pivotal in the reform of the police force, while Mr Pradit spearheaded efforts to oppose the plan to move the Administrative Court to the control of the Council of State during the Chavalit Yongchaiyudh government.

Former judge Sawat Chotipanich is another new committee member.

The DSI's 21-member special litigation committee has the prime minister as chairman and the justice minister as deputy.

Other members include the heads of civil service agencies.

The panel's task is to decide whether a criminal case should be treated as a special case and be taken over and handled by the DSI.

A vote requiring two-thirds of the panel members' approval is required for a criminal case to be taken up by the DSI.

But whether the committee as a whole will be free of political meddling remains a big question.

No comments: