Sathit Chamchalaem, a 50-year-old director of the Public Works Division at Khlong Luang municipality in Pathum Thani, was arrested alongside Ekkapot Panyaem, the 53-year-old mayor, after being charged with collusion in demanding and receiving bribes. The arrests were made by the Counter Corruption Division (CCD) and the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission following a complaint lodged by a man who had requested permission for a land fill from the municipality.
While the usual fee for a land fill is only 500 baht, the mayor allegedly demanded 50 baht per cubic meter for the 60,000 cubic meters of soil to be used in the land fill, resulting in a total of 3 million baht. The man, fearing repercussions if he refused to pay the bribe, agreed to pay an advance of 500,000 baht to Mr. Sathit, with the remainder to be paid in installments. CCD police initiated an investigation in response to the man’s complaint, and allege that both the mayor and the public works director were involved in corruption.
On Wednesday, the two men were said to have demanded an additional 500,000 baht from the victim at the municipal office. Following the execution of a court warrant, the director was taken into custody while receiving the money, and officers also confiscated a pistol that he had in his possession. Sathit denied all charges during questioning.
Ekkapot, the mayor, was not present at the municipal office during the arrest. It was said that he went to the hospital, where his wife was due to give birth. Later, at around 3:30 pm, Mr. Ekkapot arrived at the municipal office to meet with Pol Maj Gen Jaroonkiart and was charged with colluding in taking bribes and malfeasance in office.
The arrest of these two high-ranking officials in the Khlong Luang municipality has shed light on the problem of corruption within local government, illustrating the need for continued vigilance and anti-corruption efforts. The Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission and the Counter Corruption Division are dedicated to bringing to justice those who engage in corrupt practices, ensuring that local government serves the people’s best interests without the burden of extortion and bribery.
Moving forward, it is hoped that the publicity surrounding this case will serve as a deterrent to other individuals tempted to engage in corrupt practices, ultimately leading to a cleaner and more efficient municipal government in Thailand. This case serves as an important reminder to the public to report any suspected instances of corruption, as their vigilance is vital in promoting transparency and accountability within local government and fighting the scourge of corruption.