|Audit man sticks to his guns over Jaruvan
Published on September 02, 2005 - In an unprecedented move, a member of the State Audit Com-mission yesterday made public his personal defiance over the impasse surrounding the position of the auditor-general. His comments probably reflect the stance of the commission.
Commissioner Kriengsak Wata-nawarangkoon insisted that Khun-ying Jaruvan Maintaka had been removed as auditor-general following the Constitution Court ruling that the selection process for her appointment was illegal.
“The verdict by the Constitution Court is legally binding on all parties. Since the court has made such a verdict, the State Audit Commis-sion has no choice,’’ Kriengsak said.
He added that whether or not His Majesty the King endorsed Visut Montriwat’s nomination, which was sent to the Royal Palace almost three months ago, Jaruvan could not return as auditor-general.
Jaruvan has stayed put, reasoning that His Majesty endorsed her and that she will therefore leave office only with the King’s approval.
However, Kriengsak dismissed her reasoning as merely a personal opinion. “The khunying’s thoughts are only a personal opinion,’’ he said.
Kriengsak yesterday again took reporters to check Jaruvan’s office, amid criticism that it was gravely inappropriate for her to have been locked out since her status is under royal consideration.
Meanwhile, Bangkok Senator Seri Suwanpanont lashed out at caretaker Auditor-General Thanet Srichan for inappropriately submitting an urgent letter to Jaruvan, asking her to remove her possessions and putting up the Constitution Court ruling on her office door, stating that she has been removed from office.
He said he believed the move was politically motivated. “The Audit Commission is using too harsh and rough a method. This shows that there is someone behind the move. They are expelling someone from a property, when they do not know if they have the right over that property,’’ he said.
State Audit Commission spokesman Somchai Wirunpol and Kriengsak organised a press conference and admitted that Jaruvan’s office had been broken open last Thursday, citing that this had been for renovation purposes.
“Jaruvan has been removed from office. Her office now belongs to the state. So we have the right to renovate it,’’ Kriengsak insisted.
Jaruvan refused yesterday to comment on Kriengsak’s statements. “I would rather keep quiet. I do not want to quarrel with anyone,’’ she said.
Kriengsak said that Norchai Sripimol, chairman of the State Audit Commission, told him on Wednesday that he had opened Jaruvan’s room at the request of reporters. He said reporters asked Norchai whether Jaruvan had returned to work and requested to see her office.
He therefore ordered officials to break the lock of Jaruvan’s office, and to install a new one. He found her office to be very dirty and untidy and had decided to renovate, he added.
Somchai denied that the State Audit Commission had packed Jaruvan’s belongings, saying that she had ordered her team to pack her possessions in readiness to move following the Constitution Court’s ruling.
After yesterday’s press conference, Kriengsak led reporters to check inside Jaruvan’s office once again. Reporters found the Constitution Court’s ruling still stuck to the door. They also found the room in an untidy state, full of documents and pictures of Jaruvan.
During the check, the spokesman joked with reporters that they should be witnesses in case any valuables went missing from her room, or that “Khunying Jaruvan’s room is bigger than the Audit Commission chairman’s room.’’ Or “Watch out, the marriage certificate will get lost,’’ he said.
Senator Santipap Intarapat warned the commission not to overstep its authority, saying Jaruvan’s status is under the senatorial process. He said if he were Jaruvan, he would sue the commission for malfeasance and invasion of property.
He added that he would check the background of some audit commissioners, saying they may not be qualified for the post.
Chat Thai Party leader Banharn Silapa-archa called on all parties to remain silent over the Jaruvan controversy in order to stop it from escalating further. “Every one should go quiet for 120 days, and the newspapers should stop writing about it,’’ he said.
He added that he disagreed with the move to seek a royal pardon and withdraw Visut’s nomination, saying this was not necessary.
Senator Chirmsak Pinthong supported the move by 10 senators, who plan to meet His Majesty’s principal private secretary Asa Sarasin to find a way out of the impasse.