Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Activist Srisuwan seeks court ruling on govt-to-govt submarine deal

May 08. 2017
file photo : Srisuwan Janya
file photo : Srisuwan Janya
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By The Nation

Activist Srisuwan Janya on Monday filed a petition to the Ombudsman, proposing that the Administrative Court rule on the legitimacy of the recent Bt13.5-billion submarine-purchase deal between Thailand and China, which he argued had been signed too swiftly and despite being shrouded in controversy.

Srisuwan petitioned the Ombudsman, as the office is an authorised body under the Article 231 of the Constitution for making proposals to the Administrative Court when detecting any action, undertaken by governmental agencies or officials, that could be problematic to the charter or the country’s laws.

Citing the charter’s Article 178, he argued that the agreement with China should be considered by Parliament and opened to public hearing before being proceeded with, given that it had been done on a government-to-government basis.

While the Article obligates the authorities to follow such procedures for any agreement that could affect the Kingdom’s security at large, the Cabinet confidentially approved the multi-billion-baht procurement proposal from the Defence Ministry on April 18.

Last Friday, the Royal Thai Navy signed the deal with state-owned China Shipbuilding and Offshore International, marking the start of the Navy’s plan to obtain three Yuan Class S26T submarines.

The Cabinet could also be in violation of the budget procedure bill’s Article 23, which stipulates that a long-binding budget must be approved no later than 60 days after the budget bill for a fiscal year is enforced, the activist said. 

Since this year’s bill was enforced on October 1, 2016, the approval could not have been legally passed after November 30, he said in his petition.

However, this reasoning – also raised earlier by legal academics – has already been countered by the Budget Bureau, which said the Cabinet had approved the Defence Ministry’s plan for long-binding budgets on October 25.

Royal Thai Navy spokesperson Admiral Jumpol Lumpikanon, meanwhile, stressed that the Navy’s Bt13.5-billion submarine-procurement agreement did not violate any law, as the attorney-general had properly taken care of the deal’s legal aspects from the outset.

“His petition will add colour to society,” Jumpol said of Srisuwan’s plan. 

“We welcome any kind of investigation. I assure you that the Navy has followed every step in accordance with the law,” the spokesperson added.

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