PRIME MINISTER Prayut Chan-o-cha said yesterday that the Navy's proposal to buy three submarines worth Bt36 billion had nothing to do with the move to strengthen ties with China.
Prayut said the proposal was the result of the Navy’s vision for the next decade. He urged critics not to link the submarine purchase proposal with the fishing measures, the train projects or other plans initiated by the government.
“Otherwise this government does not have to do anything. We just have to manage the money and corruption. Anybody wants anything contact me,’’ he said.
He said the government would consider if it were necessary to buy the submarines. “If we can afford it, we would have to think about the necessity. Is it for battles or for protecting our maritime interests? How can we protect fishing navigation? You see that other seas have these issues. You think we will not have this problem there,’’ he said.
He said the Navy has to protect the country’s sovereignty not only in the Gulf of Thailand but also the Andaman Sea.
He said the country need not buy submarines to strengthen ties with China because both countries already enjoy strong ties. “Every country in the world treats me well but the issue is only the word – democracy,’’ he said.
Prayut said he was the target of attacks because he exercised his power. “Sometimes I am right and sometimes I am wrong. But they cannot put the blame on me because I am in charge of writing the rule,’’ he said.
Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan said the proposal to buy submarines had been planned long ago and the funding to be used for buying the subs was money that the Navy already had. He said the Navy would not seek new funding from the government for the purpose. He said the submarines would not be used for any battles but to protect the country’s maritime interests once the Asean Economic Community commences. “We need to have them to prevent battles that could occur when countries vie for interests in the sea,’’ he said.