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Jaruvan vows to hang on despite ruling

Posted by arnon_k On October - 20 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

Court recognises Pisit as auditor’s office head

Khunying Jaruvan Maintaka is insisting she will continue her battle to keep her post as auditor-general.

The Administrative Court ruled yesterday Khunying Jaruvan could no longer remain in the position after she reached the mandatory retirement age of 65 on July 5.

But Khunying Jaruvan insisted there was still room for appeal even though the court clearly stated she could not use an order issued by the Council for National Security to prolong her tenure.

The CNS, which took power after the military coup in 2006 which toppled the Thaksin Shinawatra government, issued an order allowing Khunying Jaruvan to remain auditor-general until a replacement could be found.

But the court ruled the order did not allow Khunying Jaruvan to remain in the auditor-general position.

“If the interpretation goes that way [that the CNS order overrides the state audit law on the auditor-general’s qualifications], it would mean an auditor-general who is dead, has resigned, is running in an election to be an MP or senator, or has become a drug addict would still be able to carry on working as auditor-general,” said chief judge Somchai Wattanakarun in reading out the verdict.

Such an interpretation would be very disruptive to the state audit office’s function, the court said.

In defending her right to appeal, Khunying Jaruvan said: “I find the verdict doesn’t specify the legal aspect which I will use when appealing the case.”

She also said she had no plans to vacate her office because she still considered herself head of the State Audit Commission. “I’ll go to the office as I have been doing,” she said.

Ombudsman Pramote Chotemongkhol and acting auditor-general Pisit Leelavachiropas filed the case against Khunying Jaruvan for issuing an order to revoke an earlier order appointing Mr Pisit as acting auditor-general.

Mr Pramote and Mr Pisit argued that the cancellation order dated Aug 18 was illegal as it was made after Khunying Jaruvan had reached retirement.

The court concluded the qualifications of the auditor-general should be determined by the state audit law, which states that the auditor-general must retire at age 65. Thus, Khunying Jaruvan’s order to rescind Mr Pisit’s appointment as acting auditor-general was illegitimate.

The court ruled that as Mr Pisit’s appointment was lawful, he was entitled to exercise his authority as acting auditor-general. Also, since the State Audit Commission had not been set up, he would also be able to exercise his authority in lieu of the commission and its chairman.

Mr Pisit said he hoped Khunying Jaruvan understood what needed to be done to follow the court’s ruling, such as returning her office and car.

He also said he would now push forward the work that had been stalled during the conflict.

“The real damage, however, is to the office which has been marred by the conflict,” Mr Pisit said.

MPs have included a new draft bill on the selection procedures for the auditor-general and members of the State Audit Commission on the agenda for their next meeting after the Senate failed to approve the earlier version.

New interior secretary appointed

Posted by arnon_k On October - 19 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

The cabinet on Tuesday approved the Interior Ministry’s nomination of Wichian Chawalit, director-general of the Community Development Department, as the new permanent secretary for the interior, deputy government spokesman Supachai Jaisamut said.

Mongkol Surasajja, director-general of the Provincial Administration Department, was earlier selected for the job.

He announced last week he would not to take the position in the wake of a corruption scandal over the ministry’s computer leasing project. The ministry then nominated Mr Wichian for the post.

Mr Mongkol will remain director-general of the Provincial Administration Department.

Whip to decide fate of medical errors bill

Posted by arnon_k On October - 19 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

The government chief whip could decide in days if the contentious draft bill on medical malpractice compensation should be tabled during this parliamentary session.

Public Health Minister Jurin Laksanavisit said yesterday he would forward the findings of a tripartite committee tasked with breaking the stalemate over the bill to government chief whip Witthaya Kaewparadai in two days. Mr Witthaya would then decide whether the bill would be considered.

Permanent secretary for public health Paijit Warachit chairs the tripartite panel which is made up of the ministry, health care professionals and patients’ advocacy groups.

Dr Paijit would be invited to explain his panel’s findings to Mr Witthaya next week, government whip Warong Dejkitvikrom said.

Mr Witthaya heard arguments from representatives of the bill’s supporters and opponents yesterday at Government House.

“Compensation for medical errors is essential. However some details of the draft bill could cause problems for the health system,” he said.

Thus far the tripartite panel has only agreed that those who receive malpractice compensation would waive their right to also undertake criminal proceedings.

Dr Paijit said other sticking points included the number of medical professionals who would sit on the panel approving compensation, and how medical service standards are defined, given the disparity in health care offered in urban and rural areas.

Meanwhile, the Federation of Healthcare Workforce of Thailand yesterday submitted a petition with about 100,000 signatures of medical and healthcare professionals asking that the bill be withdrawn immediately.

House speaker Chai Chidchob said that was unlikely as the bill had been on the parliament’s agenda for some time and there were seven drafts, including that of the government.

He said the federation would have to petition the chief whip, the opposition chief whip or the prime minister for the bill to be pulled.

Dr Churdchoo Ariyasriwatana, who led the federation’s members in submitting the petition, said the draft law needed to go through a larger and more thorough public hearing and vetting process first.

Army chief takes aim at ‘red’ officers

Posted by arnon_k On October - 19 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

New army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha has wasted no time in wielding his power by ordering a reshuffle of 229 senior officers.

The rejig has led to the transfer of regimental commanders reportedly linked with the red shirt movement.

Among them is Col Natthawat Akanibut, son of Gen Pat Akkanibut, who is a close friend of Puea Thai Party chairman Chavalit Yongchaiyudh.

He has been removed as commander of the 1st Infantry Regiment (King’s Guards) and becomes deputy commander of Kanchanaburi Military District.

“His transfer can be considered as a promotion although it’s a bit off the track [to the force control unit],” an army source said.

Col Pongsawas Phanchit, director of the Operations Division of the 1st Army, was appointed to replace Col Natthawat.

A source said the reason for his transfer was that Col Natthawat had been in charge of the Bangkok-based 1st Infantry Regiment for three years. Gen Prayuth was not confident Col Natthawat could carry out his work any longer. Also, he was connected to Gen Chavalit.

“Gen Prayuth is still concerned about soldiers who are close to the red shirts,” the source said.

Col Apirat Kongsompong, commander of the 11th Infantry Regiment (King’s Guards) which played a key role in dealing with red shirt demonstrators, remains with the regiment despite the fact he has been at the helm for four years.

Other intriguing transfers include the promotion of Col Kiat Srinaka, commander of the 2nd Infantry Regiment (Queen’s Guards), one of the influential military clique called Burapha Payak. He is to become deputy commander of the 2nd Infantry Division. Col Kiat played a key role in the clash with red shirt demonstrators at the Khok Wua intersection on April 10.

The latest transfers are viewed as a move to ensure Gen Prayuth has reliable subordinates who can follow his orders to the letter.

It was reported some military units did not deal with the red shirt protesters as he wanted.