Auditors ‘pushing for new nominee’
Published on September 26 , 2005 - State audit body ‘rushing’ to find a replacement; controversy tipped to heat up today
At least half of the State Audit Com-mission – including its chairman – have agreed to select a new nominee for auditor-general following the withdrawal of previous nominee Visut Montriwat, a source familiar with the matter said yesterday.
The source expected a “heated debate” at today’s meeting of the 10 audit commissioners to discuss the commission’s next move.
At least two of the commissioners told The Nation yesterday they would not support any “hasty move” to choose a new nominee.
Some of the audit commissioners were lobbied to go along with the plan during an urgent meeting on Friday with the commission’s chairman Norchai Sripimol, according to the source.
However, only five of the 10 audit commissioners attended the gathering as some commissioners had business to do in the provinces.
The commission called the meeting shortly after Senate Speaker Suchon Chaleekrua disclosed the withdrawal of Visut’s nomination on Friday. Visut’s nomination was submitted for royal endorsement in early June but was met with silence from the Royal Palace.
On Friday, Norchai and another commissioner, Boonrawd Boseareewong, said they favoured proposing a new nominee for the auditor-general’s post, rather than reinstating Khunying Jaruvan Maintaka.
The matter of appointing a new auditor-general has been at an impasse. The previous commission appointed one of Jaruvan’s deputies as caretaker auditor-general after the Constitution Court ruled in July last year that the process of Jaruvan’s appointment was unlawful.
Jaruvan has refused to step down, arguing that she was appointed by royal command and could only be dismissed in the same fashion.
Two audit commissioners yesterday expressed opposition to hastily choosing a new nominee. They called for careful consideration with voices from the public being taken into account.
Kriengsak Watanawarangkoon said proposing a new nominee for the auditor-general’s post would simply restart the cycle that led to the impasse in the first place.
“I think certain audit commissioners should be guided less by their egos. This issue is not personal. We [the commissioners] should study all the options carefully before making any resolution,” he said.
“The audit commission should heed voices from the Senate and the public,” Kriengsak said.
He said making a new nomination was not the best way out of the problem. He suggested the body look into the Constitution Court’s ruling on Jaruvan.
“Possibly, we may come up with a new interpretation that isn’t necessarily the same as the previous commission’s. The court did not rule on whether Khunying Jaruvan should be removed from office. So the State Audit Commission should reconsider this point,” Kriengsak said.
He believed today’s meeting would not be harmonious as some members disagreed with proposing a new nominee.
Somchai Virunhaphol, another audit commissioner, said yesterday he disagreed with any move to hasten the process of finding a new auditor-general.
“This matter should be considered carefully. We should not look into the legal aspect alone – the political aspect should also be taken into consideration,” he said.
“More importantly, this issue involves the monarchy. We should ask ourselves if we are going to disturb His Majesty by proposing a new nominee,” he said.
Pichet Pattanachote, a senator for Nakhon Ratchasima, yesterday said that by making a new nomination to the Senate, the commission would only create another problem for the country.
Meanwhile, Senate Speaker Suchon Chaleekrua, responding to mounting pressure for him to resign to take responsibility for submitting Visut’s nomination in the first place, said yesterday he had strictly followed the relevant laws on the issue.
Suchon said he duly requested that the nomination be withdrawn after Visut informed him in writing of his decision to withdraw.