(Pic: Boonsong)

Anti-corruption officials in Thailand dropped a political time bomb today announcing that they would be charging fifteen people mainly government officials with corruption over Thailand’s rice trade.

As thousands of anti-government demonstrators continued to blockade the capital Bangkok complaining of the corrupt practices of the country’s Shinawatra regime, the National Anti-Corruption said it was also investigating the Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra for negligence as she failed to stop the corruption.

The announcement comes just a day after Prime Minister Yingluck insisted on going ahead with an election on February 2nd.

At the same time farmers from the government’s power base – the farming communities of north central and north east Thailand said they planned to block roads themselves if they were not paid for their rice.

Poom Sarapol

The row is over a scandal hit rice pledging scheme under which the government guaranteed prices for rice from Thai farmers which were up to 50 per cent higher the market value. The government planned to stockpile the rice – thus forcing up world prices.

But the scheme crashed. Neighbouring countries produced enough extra rice to satisfy world demand. Thailand’s placing in the rice export business dropped.

And to cap it all millions of tons of rice was smuggled from Burma and Cambodia and passed off as Thai rice and sold to the government even as the Thai farmers were still harvesting.

By June last year the government had lost US$4.4 billion dollars and now its coffers are empty and unable to pay the farmers.

The people who made the money were government ministers, officials, and middle-men – the latter being the very people the scheme should have cut out.

The suspects include former Agricultural Minister Boonsong Teriyapirom, Deputy Commerce Minister Poom Sarapol and the former Director General of the Department of External Trade, Manas Sryapol.

31 anti-government protesters were injured when IEDs possibly grenades were thrown into crowds today

Point of first explosion – video link here

Corruption Commissioner Vicha Mahakhun identified two Chinese companies Guangdong Stationery & Sporting Goods Import & Export Corp and Hainan Grain & Oil Industrial Trading Co which were involved.

‘There was no evidence that they were authorised by the Chinese government to purchase the rice. And there is no evidence that any rice went to China.’

It would take a week, said Vicha, to decide whether to proceed against Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra for dereliction of duty.

About the Author

Andrew Drummond

Andrew Drummond is a British independent journalist and occasional television documentary maker. He is a former Fleet Street, London, journalist having worked at the Evening Standard, Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, News of the World, Observer and The Times.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.