Who watches for “good” corruption?

Readers will no doubt remember that Thailand’s highest ranking comb-over in the murderous military was General Udomdej Sitabutr. When he was Army boss, allegations of corruption emerged at the Army’s billion baht ode to loyalty to some monarchs at Rajabhakti  Park.

UdomdejWe won’t go into the details except to remind readers that, early on, Udomdej admitted that there were shady dealings, but then every “investigation,” none of them independent, found no corruption. This is probably the first military project in its long history that has been declared “clean.” Needless to say, the fact that several military officers associated with Udomdej and the fled overseas had nothing to do with the Corruption Park scandal.

But General Udomdej is very obviously considered by his military brothers in the junta to be one of Thailand’s “good” people, so nothing is done about him. Indeed, by toughing through the allegations, the arrest of protesting students, charged with sedition for daring to demand a proper investigation, and jailing others who commented.

His reward, with The Dictator invoking Article 44 to do it, has been to be given a task that involves truckloads of money and endless opportunities for self-enrichment. And, there’s almost no oversight by anyone other than the junta. The Bangkok Post reports that:

A special government team assigned to tackle southern unrest will take over the management of multi-billion-baht budgets from state agencies to steer efforts to bring peace to the violence-stricken far South.

Deputy Defence Minister Udomdej Sitabutr, who was appointed to head the 13-member delegation, chaired a team meeting Thursday at the Defence Ministry to assess progress and discuss a roadmap to douse the flames of the southern insurgency.

The Post adds that the budget is huge:

Since 2004, more than 264 billion baht has been spent on tackling southern strife by eight governments. This year has seen the highest budget allocation of just over 30 billion baht, up from 25 billion baht last year and 13 billion baht in 2004.

These figures are only for project budgets, and they do not include the salaries of state officials involved, and the regular spending of agencies responsible for solving the problem, the source said.

…[The team has] … the authority to transfer the ministries’ budgets set aside for projects in the southernmost provinces to support efforts to promote development and boost security in the region. Initially, it will consider a total of 89 projects worth about 1.7 billion to be initiated for this purpose….

Udomdej will be laughing all the way to the bank.


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