Navy torpedoes sub claims

Navy torpedoes sub claims

The navy yesterday shrugged off Pheu Thai Party MP Yuttapong Charasathien's plan to ask the anti-graft agency to look into the submarine procurement contract over allegations that it was not a government-to-government deal.

Vice Adm Prachachart Sirisawat, the navy's deputy chief-of-staff and spokesman, said the purchase of the China-made submarines was examined by several government agencies and legal specialists including the Office of the Attorney-General before the navy was given the green light to sign the contract.

He insisted the purchase programme could not be compared with the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration's fire boat and truck procurement scheme because it was an arms deal between two governments where international laws also applied.

"He understood it that way [not a genuine government-to-government deal], and it's his problem. This is a weapon purchase programme, not a purchase scheme in general. There are also international laws involved. Let him find it out in court then," he said.

Vice Adm Prachachart was reacting to Mr Yuttapong who yesterday repeated his call for the navy to show documents authorising it to sign the submarine purchase deal with China and threatened to release "evidence" that could leave the procurement project in limbo.

The MP also planned to file a petition with the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) seeking a probe against Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon and navy chief Adm Luechai Ruddit over the deal.

His threat came after the navy lodged a defamation complaint against him for making false accusations and smearing the navy's good name. Mr Yuttapong claimed the submarine contract was invalid because Adm Luechai, who signed on behalf of Thailand, had no authority to represent the government and the Chinese company, China Shipbuilding & Offshore International Co (CSOC) which signed the contract, was also not representing the Chinese government.

The navy said the government authorised the then navy chief, Adm Na Areenich, to sign the contract on its behalf. Adm Na later assigned Adm Luechai, who served as chairman of the navy's submarine procurement management panel, to sign the government-to-government contract.

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