Visut leaves panel with three choices
Published on September 24 , 2005 - State Audit Commission must solve protracted auditor-general dilemma after nominee’s surprise withdrawal
Visut Montriwat’s retreat from consideration for the post of auditor-general is not the ultimate solution to the stalemate between those laying claim to the position, though it eases the process to some extent.
Now the responsibility for resolving the vacuum at the Auditor-General’s Office shifts from the Senate and its speaker, Suchon Chaleekrue, back to the State Audit Commission.
Whether this is truly a breakthrough is totally up to the commission.
The board has three choices. One is to stick with its view that Khunying Jaruvan Maintaka was removed from the auditor-general’s post by the Constitution Court’s finding in July last year that the selection process leading to her appointment had been illegal. That would mean restarting the selection process to nominate a new auditor-general.
Or the panel could allow Jaruvan to resume her work on the grounds that the Constitution Court did not rule clearly that she was ineligible to remain in her post. Jaruvan had served as auditor-general for years under royal command before the court issued its verdict. In this case, the process to nominate an auditor-general would begin only after Jaruvan had completed her term.
Certainly, if the commissioners want to end the 14-month impasse, they should resort to the second alternative and close the door on the first one. If the agency resists by restarting the selection process, the same ordeal that was brought on by Visut’s nomination will haunt the country again.
However the likelihood of Jaruvan’s return to the Auditor-General’s Office is almost nil because her relationship with the commissioners has turned acrimonious. After Jaruvan vowed to stay put following the Constitution Court ruling, the board countered by issuing statements that she had been ejected from her post. Her official car has been repossessed, her office’s lock has been changed, her salary has been cut off, and a stand-in for her has been named. Although deprived of all means, Jaruvan maintains that she will cling to her post until His Majesty the King orders her removed.
The last option is simply to leave the post vacant till the end of next year, when Jaruvan’s term expires. This would not disrupt the office’s operations as an interim auditor-general is in place.
Judging from Visut’s reasons for backing down and his admission that he has consulted senior government figures, there is some hope that a compromise can be reached.
In his letter he listed three points for consideration. First was the heated debate on whether the position was indeed vacant. Second was that his nomination had reached a dead end, and third was that in searching for a way out of the mess, officials must take into account tradition and protocol and not just laws and regulations.
The senior figures in the government that he conferred with could be at as high a level as Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam or Cabinet Secretary-General Borwornsak Uwanno. This would bear out reports that have been circulating recently that the government had been lobbying for Visut to withdraw his name.
The State Audit Commission will meet on Monday to decide on the matter that has rocked the country’s political establishment to its core over the past weeks.