BANGKOK, Dec 24 — The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) on Thursday decided to dismiss the complaint on SMS case against Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij for wrongfully requesting three mobile phone companies to send out mass text messages to 17.2 million numbers free of charge when they first took office in 2008.

The petition, filed by opposition leader Chalerm Yoobamrung, Puea Thai MP chairman and 158 MPs, seeks the removal from office of both Mr. Abhisit and Mr. Korn, accusing them of violating Article 103 of the NACC Act.

NACC Secretary-General Apinan Israngura Na Ayuthaya said in a statement issued on Thursday that the anti-graft agency has decided at its meeting on Thursday to drop the case, as the SMS were sent as a cooperation request from the government and the mobile telephone operators cooperated voluntarily for public benefit.

The NACC also did not find that the move was malfeasance and the three mobile phone companies have not made any gains from doing as asked.

Mr Abhisit and Korn formulated a policy to communicate with citizens before the royal appointment of the prime minister on December 17, 2008.

On December 16, 2008, Korn called a meeting of three mobile phone operators, AIS, Dtac and True Move, asking for their cooperation in provide the SMS messages as a public service.

The SMS were sent out after the government came to power and all messages were screened and approved by Abhisit and Korn. The three operators signed the SMS as sent by UR PM, an abbreviation for your prime minister.

In the message Mr Abhisit asked people to help him solve the country’s crisis. Interested mobile phone users were asked to send back their postal codes, at a cost of Bt3.

The three mobile phone operators confirmed they had cooperated in sending out SMS as the public service on several occasions in the past, such as publicity related to the APEC Summit in 2003, the royal ceremonies, tsunami crisis, power seizure and the Bangkok gubernatorial race.

Unlike other short messages sent out as the public service which had no replies, people responded by replying to the SMS sent out by Abhisit and Korn. Each reply generated a Bt3 revenue for the operators.

However, the NACC ruled that the reply of SMS was done by mobile users voluntarily and the operators have paid income tax from the replied SMS in accordance with the law.

Meanwhile, the NACC also dropped the case in which Mr Abhisit was accused of abuse of power by giving Kasit Piromya the foreign minister’s post even though Mr Kasit was allegedly involved in the airports seizure by the ‘Yellow Shirt’ People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD).

The NACC said the case dropped for lack of solid evidence. (MCOT online news)