Picture this: A quaint, serene municipality in Ban Mo district in Saraburi, typically brimming with life and the hustle of everyday affairs. Suddenly, a shadow of misdeed cast itself as whispers of corruption began to surface. This wasn’t just a rumor around the water cooler—it was the kind of scandal that saw Mr. Prachum Khwanmuang, the well-regarded mayor of Tambon Talad Noi municipality, led away in handcuffs by a cadre of anti-corruption warriors.
It was a scene straight out of a crime drama—the kind that captures audiences with tales of power and greed. But this was no fiction. On a typically unassuming Tuesday, the 58-year-old mayor stood accused of playing a game more dangerous than politics—the game of bribery.
Imagine the shock! The mayor, the steady hand that guides the community, wrapped in the tentacles of avarice. Lured by the siren song of unjust gain, officials from the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACD), the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC), and the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) claim Mr. Prachum’s talons were deeply embedded in the town’s finances. An arrest warrant issued by the Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases marked the start of his unraveling.
Now, what was his alleged trespass? A deceptively simple tap water system improvement contract, with a combined bounty of 5.4 million baht. The real twist? A subcontractor who won a lofty 18 contracts under the administration’s auspices leveled a bold accusation. He claimed that about 700,000 baht, approximately a 12% bribe, was demanded by this municipal ‘pillar’ as a condition of acceptance. It paints quite a grim portrait, doesn’t it?
The urban legend tells us that “to get along, you’ve got to go along,” but this subcontractor’s tale is far from an “easy street” yarn. Having forked over 150,000 baht out of fear of retribution, the subcontractor found himself in dire straits. To add insult to injury, the mayor’s signature—the golden ticket to budget approval—remained elusive.
Through tenacity and a dash of desperation, the subcontractor completed his first project. Did he see the fruits of his labor? Hardly! Instead, Mr. Prachum reportedly upped the ante, demanding the balance of the bribe and then some.
Imagine the flabbergastation as the subcontractor also uncovered the harrowing reality that his own personal investment of 500,000 baht in the project drew scant acknowledgment from the mayor’s office.
Would our subcontractor get to be the protagonist in his own story of justice served? Like any gritty underdog, he took his tale of economic woe to the ACD. Valentines of evidence led to love letters of the law—a warrant was issued, and Mr. Prachum’s freedom was put on pause.
When asked to spill the proverbial beans, Mr. Prachum, perhaps predictably, denied such misdoings. Despite maintaining his innocence, he found himself in the unenviable embrace of ACD sub-division 1 police custody. There, our latest episode in real-life ‘Corruption and the City’ left us hanging—but don’t worry, there are sure to be more twists in this tale of taps and bribery.