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Activist calls for probe into submarine deal ‘abnormality’

Apr 27. 2017
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By Jakrawan Salaytoo
The Nation

Activist Srisuwan Janya on Thursday filed a petition to Auditor-General Pisit Leelavachiropas asking him to investigate what he termed an abnormality over the Cabinet’s approval of the Bt13.5 billion purchase of a submarine from China last week.

Srisuwan questioned whether there could be conflicts of interests in the government-to-government deal’s terms of reference. 

He was also concerned whether the decision was justified as it apparently went against current economic conditions, with Thailand’s treasury reserves at a 10-year low.

Thailand is also not involved in any regional conflicts that would require it to accumulate military hardware, he added.

Such action could violate the 1992 regulation of the Office of the Prime Minister on procurement and the 2017 constitution that obliges any government to strictly follow the fiscal and financial discipline for the public benefit, he said.

“I just don’t want this to end up like the GT200 case,” he added, referring to the Army’s notorious multi-million-baht purchase of bogus bomb detectors between 2005 and 2009.

Pisit, meanwhile, responded that his office has already begun examining the submarine deal, considering its budgetary appropriateness and the long-term maintenance plan.

However, the OAG office had not yet received any relevant documents to enable an investigation.

“Those papers are red-cornered, meaning that they are confidential and won’t be forwarded to our office,” Pisit said “But we plan to assign some senior officers who can keep security secrets to investigate the matter.”

Prior to submitting his petition, Srisuwan said he was contacted by an unnamed security officer, asking him to stop filing the petition without giving reasons. 

“I wonder why the security forces feel uncomfortable about me practising constitutional rights,” he said. “The more they pressure me, the more they show what kind of regime they are.”

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