Military: Activist twisted facts about satellite project

Military: Activist twisted facts about satellite project

Defence Ministry spokesman Khongcheep Tantrawanich insists the satellite programme is not intended for spying on people. (file photo)
Defence Ministry spokesman Khongcheep Tantrawanich insists the satellite programme is not intended for spying on people. (file photo)

The Defence Ministry has accused political activist Srisuwan Janya of twisting the facts about the military's new satellite project.

Defence Ministry spokesman Khongcheep Tantrawanich said on Monday the project is still under study and the satellites would not be exclusively for military use or for spying as Mr Srisuwan claimed. The satellites would be shared with other state agencies.

According to Mr Srisuwan, who is spearheading a campaign against the satellite programme, the Defence Ministry is paving the way for the purchase of a constellation of 112 small "Theia" satellites under a 2018-2027 strategic plan on space affairs.

These satellites were capable of spying on people, even zooming in the face of their mobile phone, and this violated the rights and freedom of the people, according to the activist. He also said the satellite programme would cost an estimated 91.2 billion baht, excluding the cost of launching them into space.

"Don't distort this to suggest it will invade people's rights or freedom, or will involve huge funding. The public should listen to government authorities too, which is better than hearing from just a single legal expert," Lt Gen Khongcheep said.

The defence spokesman said the satellite programme was under study. It was needed because the ministry’s contract for use of the Thaicom satellite would expire in 2021.

The study would look into the cost and benefits of possible investment models, which include leasing or co-investing, and Theia was not the only project under study.

The programme was needed to meet a wide range of purposes, including communications, imaging and surveying natural resources, as well as space security, he said.

"It's not true that the government will use a satellite to spy on people. Do you really think the government will use a satellite to zoom in on your mobile phone to see your chats? Don't distort things and cause misunderstanding," he said.


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