By Usanee Mongkolporn
Information and Communications Technology Minister Anudith Nakornthap has ordered the office of the ministry's permanent secretary to urge Thaicom to resume its original concession by having its parent InTouch raise its shareholding in the satellite oper
Anudith said he had already asked permanent secretary Jirawan Boonperm to send a letter urging the move to inform Thaicom on the matter.
InTouch executive chairman Somprasong Boonyachai said the company would consider the case once it received the ministry’s order.
The move is in line with part of a ruling by the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions to confiscate the assets of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in February 2010 over his abuse of power to benefit his telecom empire. The court cited this InTouch case as part of its verdict in the Thaksin case. InTouch was formerly known as Shin Corp, the firm founded by the Shinawatras.
Anudith said that once there is progress on the InTouch case, he would report it to the Cabinet.
An ICT ministry source said that Infobahn, which was founded by former Thaicom chief executive officer Dumrong Kasemset, sent the letter on June 19 urging Anudith to take action on the matter.
Former ICT minister Chuti Krairiksh of the Democrat Party once criticised Anudith, who is a Pheu Thai Party member, saying that Anudith has shown no progress on making Thaicom and some InTouch subsidiaries resume the original concessions, in line with the court verdict in the Thaksin asset-seizure case.
InTouch is bound by Thaicom’s original concession to maintain its minimum share ownership in Thaicom at 51 per cent throughout Thaicom’s 30-year concession period. The ICT Ministry in Thaksin’s tenure allowed InTouch to reduce its stakes in Thaicom to 41 per cent in October 2004, without Cabinet approval. The Supreme Court regarded this transaction inappropriately benefiting InTouch.
Chuti had this InTouch case examined by the joint private-state committee founded under Article 22 of the Public-Private Joint Venture Act. The panel’s majority members concluded that InTouch should also raise its stake in Thaicom back to the original level. They also concluded that Thaicom’s iPSTAR broadband satellite was not a backup satellite for Thaicom 3 and that Thaicom still had to build a backup satellite under the provisions of the original concession.
Thaicom’s share price closed at Bt14.60 last Friday, up 3.55 per cent from a day before.