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Phuket lifeguard contract corruption probe confirms ‘irregularities’, case sent to NACC

PHUKET: Region 8 Police this week submitted the results of their preliminary investigation into alleged corruption over a government contract issued to provide lifeguards at Phuket’s beaches to the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) in Bangkok.

By The Phuket News

Saturday 22 September 2018, 09:00AM

Region 8 Police Deputy Commander of Investigation Col Arnon Dashrugsa announced the news at a press conference at Region 8 Police headquarters, at the northern end of the island, on Tuesday (Sept 18). Photo: The Phuket News

Region 8 Police Deputy Commander of Investigation Col Arnon Dashrugsa announced the news at a press conference at Region 8 Police headquarters, at the northern end of the island, on Tuesday (Sept 18). Photo: The Phuket News

Region 8 Police Deputy Commander of Investigation Col Arnon Dashrugsa announced the news at a press conference at Region 8 Police headquarters, at the northern end of the island, on Tuesday afternoon (Sept 18), noting that a police investigation had confirmed irregularities in the execution of the contract.

Present for the announcement yesterday were members of the ‘Khon Rak Thong Tin’ (People who love this place) group, who initially filed the complaint with Region 8 Police in May. (See story here.)

“All information concerning the Phuket lifeguard corruption allegation was sent to the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) at 4:20pm on Sept 13,” Col Arnon confirmed.

An official at the Office of the Secretary General of the NACC confirmed to The Phuket News on Wednesday that the office received the case from police on Monday (Sept 17).

“All information is now with the NACC. Next, NACC officials will continue this investigation, as we have found that the corruption allegations do have merit,” Col Arnon said.

At the press conference on Tuesday, the Khon Rak Thong Tin group presented a hefty collection of photos and statements to support their claim that a company had managed to be awarded a government contract to provide lifeguards at Phuket beaches despite the company not having the resources to provide what the government tender required.

The complaint also pointed out that the company had also failed to deliver on the services provided after the contract period began, but yet the contract was not annulled by officials, which itself serves as another breach of government procurement regulations.

Lt Col Monsak Srisuwan, who conducted the Region 8 Police initial investigation, yesterday would only re-confirm the same information he was willing to reveal when questioning people at Kamala Police Station last Wednesday (Sept 12).

“So far by the evidence we have obtained during our investigation it appears that the accusations against the parties are true.” he said again.

Col Monsak also repeated that at this stage, by law, he was unable to publicly reveal the parties under investigation from the complaint.

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However, The Phuket News understands that one of the parties under investigation is an official who was a key figure in awarding the contract.

Of note, Col Monsak on Tuesday did volunteer, “The accusations have led to the discovery that officials have been found not upholding their duties and avoiding following the regulations.”

The regulations governing how government officials are allowed to contract were overhauled last year with the introduction of the Government Procurement and Supplies Management Act of 1997, which replaced procurement regulations of the Office of the Prime Minister in 1992. (See the new law as provided by the Council of State here.)

The new law became effective on Aug 23 last year, and is regulated by the Thai Government Procurement Department under the Ministry of Finance.

The law allows the public to participate as observers every step of the process, from drafting the terms of reference to completing the procurement process, as well as setting penalties for authorities, officials or the accomplices who take bribes or fail to perform their duties in goodwill.

Under the new law, offenders are subject to one to 10 years imprisonment and/or a fine of B20,000-200,000. (See story here.)

Col Arnon concluded the conference yesterday, saying, “I definitely hope to see qualified lifeguards working and saving people, and I expect to see professional and skilled lifeguards on Phuket’s beaches.

“Then Phuket’s beaches will be safe for everybody and tourists (sic). Anything that is good for Phuket province I will do.

“If anyone wants to follow up on the case and find out more information, they can call the NACC at 02-5284800 ext 4993,” he said.

The NACC official The Phuket News spoke to this morning noted, “Anyone can check on the progress on our investigation by calling us and citing the NACC case number 28558.”



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Foot | 22 September 2018 - 12:45:09

Everyone know this has been going on for years.  Going after these folks and stopping it is welcomed.
But, that still doesn't put lifeguards on the beaches now.  And, "high season" is rapidly approaching.

Kurt | 22 September 2018 - 10:03:03

Lets hope that all thai Phuket Officials realize that this news is now cyber/ internet wise going all over the world. What a blow. A enormous thai Phuket and TAT loose face happening. Incompetence, laziness, and looking away of this now 1 year affair. Not nice for the departing Governor to get this with him as a inheritance.

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