[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index
BKK Post, March 7, 1998 SALWEEN SCA
- Subject: BKK Post, March 7, 1998 SALWEEN SCA
- From: burma@xxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Fri, 06 Mar 1998 22:13:00
March 7, 1998
Chettha speaks out in defence of Third Army commander
Says he does not have to testify before panel
The army chief yesterday spoke in defence of the Third Army commander,
saying he did not have to testify before a House committee looking into
the Salween logging scandal.
The commander, Lt-Gen Thanom Vatcharaphut, has assigned his deputy,
Maj-Gen Vattanachai Chaymuenwongse, to testify before the House
Committee on Agricultural Affairs.
Gen Chettha Thanajaro, the army chief, yesterday said it was all right
for Lt-Gen Thanom to do so since it would not make any difference
whether it was the Third Army chief himself or another senior officer
who gave the testimony.
Maj-Gen Vattanachai might even know better about the matter, added the
Gen Chettha insisted Karen refugees had to be moved out of the Salween
National Park for security reasons, adding they would be repatriated
when it was safe to do so.
An army source said yesterday the army was getting tough with wayward
officers and they would be fired if found guilty.
Gen Chettha had made it a policy to dismiss any officers found to have
abused power or been involved in extortion rackets, the source said.
The move followed news reports of a number of violent crimes in which
military officers were allegedly involved. Many, including senior ones,
have been accused of heading mafia-like gangs or being on their
Gen Chettha was quoted as telling a meeting on Monday the army would no
longer tolerate wayward behaviour among its officers which could tarnish
About 10 officers had already been dismissed in connection with such
reports, the source said.
Supervisors of accused officers were also obliged to report to the army
chief directly, according to the source.
Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai, in his capacity as defence minister, had
also asked the top brass to keep their men in check and to take action
against those who misbehaved, the source said.
Meanwhile, the House committee yesterday urged investigators to speed up
their probe into alleged log felling activities by a timber company
linked to a five million baht bribe.
The panel also blamed local authorities for negligence of duty by
failing to press charges against the owner of the firm. The authorities
were also found to have allowed the firm to use public land for storing
railway sleepers without seeking permission from the Land Department.
Committee Chairman Charoen Chankomol yesterday led a 35-member team to
inspect railway sleepers piled up in Ban Tak, Tak province. The wood
reportedly belonged to Saha Vanakij Sawmill Co operated by logging
tycoon Vinai Panichayanuban.
Mr Vinai has been accused by a team of investigators led by Pol Lt-Gen
Seri Temiyavej, commissioner of the Central Investigation Bureau, of
having paid a five million baht bribe to Prawat Thanadkha, the deputy
Forestry Department chief.
The House committee was accompanied to the site by Tak Governor
Phongpayom Wasapooti and Tak forestry chief Sunthorn Phakakarn. Ban Tak
district chief Thavorn Choeiphan, head of the local investigation team,
gave a briefing on the source of origin of some 13,000 teak logs found
in Saha Vanakij Sawmil Co to the panel.
After the briefing, Mr Charoen asked why the local investigators did not
press charges against the logging tycoon.
"I am puzzled why the investigators, despite having evidence, failed to
file charges against Mr Vinai. What they did was press charges against
Mr Vinai's workers. They should have gone for the mastermind," said the
Mr Charoen claimed the firm has made use of public land for several
years without any permission from the Land Department. The firm stored
both illegal and legal timber on state land, he alleged.
Tak governor Phongpayom said he has ordered the seizure of teak wood
from the firm to facilitate the probe.
On the seizure of 5,576 logs worth 50 million baht found hidden in a
forest in Ban Tak district on Thursday, Mr Phongpayom said Saha Vanakij
Sawmill, which claimed to own the logs, had a permit to transport the
wood from the forest.
The panel is expected to take a week to re-check the legality of the
permit and other related documents.
If the documents are found to be fake, the owner of the firm and
officials linked to the scam would face legal action, stressed Mr