The Public Health Ministry is facing heavy criticism for banning all staff from charging personal mobile phones at work, part of a long list of prohibitions it says are intended to curb “conflicts of interest”.

The announcement was signed by permanent secretary Jessada Chokdamrongsuk last Friday, the last business day of 2017. It prohibits all 400,000 ministry staff from charging their mobile devices at the office, citing the need to set clear boundaries to prevent conflicts of interest.

In addition to mobile phone charging, other off-limits activities include: personal use of office equipment, materials or supplies; personal use of ministry vehicles; allowing officials to drive ministry cars for personal business; parking personal vehicles overnight on ministry grounds; and cleaning personal or family vehicles on ministry grounds.

The announcement also instructs high-ranking officials to set a good example and recognise the importance of the new measures.

Since the announcement went viral online, many social media users have commented that the measures, especially the charging ban, are too harsh and out of touch with what many office workers normally do.

Yongyot Thammavudhi, chief of the ministry’s anti-corruption operation centre, said the measures aimed to set a clear line between official and personal assets and instil in officials the right mindset about conflicts of interest, the seed of corruption.

The measures were drawn up after the cabinet approved the bill on conflicts of interest on Aug 8 last year, Dr Yongyot said.

“Some of the measures may cause inconvenience, such as when an official uses his personal phone for both personal affairs and work. In this case, it depends on his discretion to do what’s right,” he said in a statement.

News Reporter

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