‘Premchai factor’ threatens to derail ITD’s Orange Line bid


The fact that one of its executives was sentenced to imprisonment may pose a legal issue for Italian-Thai Development Group (ITD) in its contest to operate the Orange Line mass transit project, according to an expert.

Democrat Party deputy leader and former Bangkok governor Samart Ratchapolsitte noted that bidders for the government project must have to comply with the Public-Private Partnership Act.

The law bans the participation of any legal entity whose directors or authorised executives have been convicted and sentenced to prison, except for negligence or a petty offence.

Samart asked if the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA) carefully looked into this matter before announcing that ITD had sailed through the technical qualification requirements along with another bidder, Bangkok Expressway and Metro (BEM).

“Did the MRTA really not know that on the day ITD submitted its proposal, one of its directors had been sentenced to imprisonment?” he said on his Facebook post on Wednesday.

Samart was referring to ITD’s former president Premchai Karnasuta. In December last year, the construction tycoon was sentenced to three years and two months in jail for hunting in Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary.

He is one of the company’s nine directors as of September 7, according to the Department of Business Development database.

A source familiar with the matter said the Premchai issue was raised during a recent meeting of the MRTA’s bidder selection committee. However, the panel finally voted to approve the proposals regarding technical qualifications.

In the second round, bidders are required to submit two envelopes – one with technical proposals and another with the pricing. The price quotation would be considered only if the bid passes screening of their technical proposals.

BEM and ITD are the only two bidders. Skytrain operator Bangkok Mass Transit System (BTSC), which participated in the first round, did not take part in the bidding.

BTSC filed a lawsuit against the cancellation of the first round of bidding and won the case. It also filed a lawsuit against the second round, but the Administrative Court has yet to make a ruling. The court recently rejected BTSC’s request for an injunction to suspend the second round.

The 35.9km-long Orange Line is divided into eastern and western sections. Construction of the 22.5km-long eastern section from the Thailand Cultural Centre to Minburi, with 10 underground stations and seven elevated stations, is 90 per cent complete.

The western section stretches from the Thai Cultural Centre to Bang Khunnon – a length of 13.4km, with 11 underground stations.

The bid winner would be required to sign a private-public partnership contract to operate the entire route after building the western section.