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No caviar but oodles of noodles for Prawit

BANGKOK: Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon on Tuesday (Oct 4) insisted he did not eat caviar on the B20.9-million chartered flight to the Asean-US defence meeting in Hawaii last week, which critics slammed as overpriced.

politics, military, corruption, transport,


Bangkok Post

Wednesday 5 October 2016, 08:59AM


He was responding to a claim which circulated, along with criticism over alleged misspending, on social media that caviar was served on the flight.

According to images and information posted on a Facebook page calling itself CSI LA, the first meal served on the charter flight from Bangkok to Honolulu was a snack that included caviar and Italian smoked ham. The photo, described as being taken from the in-flight menu, has not been verified.

Gen Prawit said he only ate rice and noodles on the flight.

In response to calls for him to disclose the names of 38 delegates travelling to Hawaii on the same trip, Gen Prawit told reporters to ask Maj Gen Khongcheep Tantrawanich, spokesman of the Defence Ministry.

Gen Prawit also dismissed rumours that some of his close associates who were not involved in the Hawaii meeting also joined the trip, saying all delegates on the trip were involved in the meeting. Every delegate worked for him while on the trip.

A reporter also joined the trip because he was there to cover the event, he said.

Criticism flared after the cost of the flight was posted on the Secretariat of the Prime Minister’s website, which included B600,000 for in-flight food and drinks.

Gen Prawit said on Monday the flight’s information was made public as taxpayers' money funded the trip.

Pheu Thai Party’s acting deputy spokesman Anusorn Iamsa-ard, meanwhile, said Thais were wondering about the identities of the 38 delegates on the trip and whether they were all really needed.

He urged Gen Prawit to disclose their names and details.

This was clearly proof of double standards in the government’s anti-corruption policy, said Mr Anusorn. The government was keen to stamp out improper conduct elsewhere but turned a blind eye to its own apparent misdeeds.

If this government were elected, it would have faced a censure debate as a result of the charter flight matter, he added.

Even though it was a military regime, the government had to be ready for checks, he said, adding it was not right for those who had seized power with military force to think they could do whatever they wished when in power.

THAI, meanwhile reiterated a statement made on Monday by Executive Vice-President Usanee Sangsingkeo that the reported charter fee of B20.95 million was only a median price set in compliance with regulations, but the actual fee to be collected could be lower.

THAI president Charamporn Jotikasthira said the same in remarks posted on THAI’s Facebook page Tuesday.

Mr Charamporn also provided assurances the charter flight’s costs were reasonable.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha insisted on Monday he would not order a probe into the matter, saying the delegation went on the trip to Hawaii for a function and not a leisure visit.

He added there was no direct flight operating to Honolulu so the plane had to be chartered.

 

Read original story here.

 

 

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