More irregularities surfacing in submarine deal, says Pheu Thai
The Pheu Thai Party has asked the Royal Thai Navy (RTN) to explain why a Chinese language teacher is listed among Chinese military engineers deployed to build a submarine base in Chonburi province.
Yuttapong Charasathien, the opposition party’s deputy leader, said the 1.85-billion-baht project has listed a teacher from an international school in Thailand as one of the military engineers deployed by project operator China Shipbuilding and Offshore International Company (CSOC).
Due to be completed next year, the submarine dock and supporting building will house subs procured from China at Laem Thian Pier in Sattahip Naval Base.
“Our investigation shows this teacher is not an employee of CSOC, so why is he selected to participate in a project which involves military secrets?” Yuttapong asked, directing his question at the RTN.
“Furthermore, we also found that one of the drilling boats taking part in the construction is registered under Thai nationality.”
Yuttapong also alleged other discrepancies involving the submarine purchase from CSOC.
He said Thailand is buying three UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) but they come with only two control stations, while there is no sign of a silt protector for the Laem Thian project, despite the need to protect valuable equipment.
“I want the RTN chief and spokesman to bring transparency to this project, as the public is worried about the quality of construction work and military equipment that we are buying from China,” he added.
In February, Yuttapong revealed that the first Chinese submarine acquired for 12.42 billion baht was already facing problems after German manufacturer MTU Friedrichshafen refused to supply the engine specified in the contract. The European Union imposed an arms embargo on China after the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.
CSOC instead offered Thailand a Chinese-made propulsion system for the submarine. Talks between the RTN and CSOC on the engine problem are ongoing.