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Prayut defends weapons deals

BANGKOK: Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha insisted the government will purchase submarines and F-35 fighter jets as he defended the country’s military spending on the last day of the censure debate on Friday.

By Bangkok Post

Saturday 23 July 2022, 09:28AM

Pheu Thai Party MP Yuttapong Charasathien speaks about the Defence Ministry’s plan to procure submarines and fighter jets during the last day of the censure debate against Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Friday. Photo: Chanat Katanyu / Bangkok Post

Pheu Thai Party MP Yuttapong Charasathien speaks about the Defence Ministry’s plan to procure submarines and fighter jets during the last day of the censure debate against Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Friday. Photo: Chanat Katanyu / Bangkok Post

Deputy Pheu Thai Party leader Yuttapong Charasathien took aim at military spending as he slammed Gen Prayut, who is also the defence minister, as lacking leadership for failing to put the brakes on unnecessary expenses, reports the Bangkok Post.

Mr Yuttapong said the premier should have ordered the scrapping of the navy’s submarine deal when it was apparent that China Shipbuilding & Offshore International Co, the manufacturer, could not supply German-made MTU396 diesel engines by next month’s deadline.

"He lacks the leadership required to head the government," said Mr Yuttapong, MP for Maha Sarakham. “When the submarine deal ran into a problem, he was afraid to cancel the contract, and this damages the country.”

He said the air force’s plan to acquire three F-35s from the United States should wait because the country’s public debt has increased to over 60% of GDP and is in need of funds for development and financial relief initiatives.

He said that the air force’s procurement process for the jets may take almost two years as the order request must be examined by US lawmakers.

Gen Prayut should order the air force to withdraw its request for allocation of funds for the jets in the 2023 budget so the money can be spent to help people in need, Mr Yuttapong said.

Defending both plans, Gen Prayut said the government will not accept the delivery of the submarines unless they meet the requirements specified in the deal’s terms of reference (ToR).

He said the navy has stood firm on its demand and the Chinese firm has to honour the agreement.

If the ToR cannot be fulfilled, concerned parties will have to take responsibility as specified in the contract, he said.

As for the jets, he said the scheme will go ahead as the air force submitted the order request to the US last year. He said it is expected to conclude early next year and Thailand will inform the US of its intentions in February.

Mr Yuttapong also attacked the navy’s plan to purchase UAVs worth B4.1 billion from Israel, saying it is unnecessary spending. He said that without weapons, UAVs can only do reconnaissance missions.

Gen Prayut said military spending schemes are based on defence necessities, noting they are approved by the House. The House has the final say in budget allocations and the military has to cope with parliament’s decision should budgets be trimmed or rejected, he said.


Fastship Phuket

A Move Forward Party (MFP) MP slammed the government over fraudulent GT200 bomb detectors, saying the former military leaders who approved the procurement of the devices over a decade ago, and who are now in power, must still be held accountable, Bangkok Post noted in a separate report.

During the censure debate against the government on Thursday, Jirat Thongsuwan, an MP for Chachoengsao, took aim at Prime Minister Prayut, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon and Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda.

“It is now 13 years since the scandal came to light but one question remains unanswered. Who must be held responsible for the procurement of the devices?” the opposition MP said.

“The fraudulent devices not only caused the country to lose billions of baht, but they were to blame for blast injuries among soldiers and civilians,” Mr Jirat said.

“Even though the distributor of the device was ordered by the Central Administrative Court last year to pay B683 million in compensation to the army, we cannot leave it at that. We must bring those who approved the procurement to justice.”

He said that on March 28, prosecutors indicted 22 military officers at the Bangkok Military Court. They were accused of malfeasance in connection with the army’s purchase of a total of 757 GT200 devices under 12 procurement contracts, worth more than B682mn.

The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) earlier found grounds for accusations against the 22 officers before forwarding the case to the prosecutors, Mr Jirat said.

“However, those involved in approving the procurement were not implicated in the case,” he said.

Gen Anupong, who served as army chief at the time, approved the 12 procurement contracts while Gen Prayut, who then served as the army’s chief of staff, was ordered to approve one of those contracts on behalf of Gen Anupong, Mr Jirat claimed.

Gen Prawit, who served as defence minister at the time, also approved some procurement contracts, he said, adding the NACC have had these procurement contracts for more than 10 years.

“But the NACC did not bring charges against the defence minister or the army chief, who had the authority to approve the procurement at the time. Therefore, there was nothing the prosecutors could do about this,” Mr Jirat said.

At least 15 state agencies were believed to have been duped into buying the bogus detectors worth more than B1.13bn.

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Kurt | 24 July 2022 - 09:59:59

F-35s and subs are for the coup generals like all the medals on their uniforn for hero acts they never did. All show, no substance.

Kurt | 24 July 2022 - 09:52:05

Lord Buddha bewares us of a Phuket overflying Thai F-35. They can not even keep a Black Hawk in the air. It's to 'high tech' for them. 'Order' pilot to land in sea, not on Bangla Road!  :-)

JohnC | 24 July 2022 - 09:17:51

Toys for the big boys to play with. Waste of time and money. Who is going to threaten or invade Thailand? It's all about the icing on top of the cake and who gets their cut of it.....

Kurt | 24 July 2022 - 00:35:52

You want to get a sensitive usa weapon system of the shelf and play it in hands of  China? Give Thailand the money +33%, and they get it for you. Thailand as defense material 'stopover/shuffler'.

Kurt | 23 July 2022 - 13:12:19

Hope USA not sell F-35s to Thailand. All tactical/technical matters will be straight shared with China. That is the plan. Actually USA can give away all F-35 knowledge by sending such fighter straight to China. Don't give sensitive western weapon systems to Thailand. Let Thailand buy russian migs or chinese fighters.

Prab | 23 July 2022 - 12:14:24

yeah they really need to defend themself from the Burma military... uncle Tu usual propaganda... wonder how much money under the table all the general get out of this deal 


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