Royal Thai Navy denies nepotism claim by MFP MP

Royal Thai Navy denies nepotism claim by MFP MP

A lack of sufficient documents from bidders is the reason the Royal Thai Navy is scrapping its first auction to salvage HTMS Sukhothai, according to Royal Thai Navy (RTN) spokesman Adm Pokkrong Monthatphalin.

He was responding to Jirat Thongsuwan, a Move Forward Party MP for Chachoengsao, who said on Wednesday that the bidding for the concession to salvage the ship, which sunk in Prachuap Khiri Khan in December, involved an executive with family ties to incoming defence forces chief Gen Songwit Noonpakdi.

Gen Songwit yesterday denied he was connected to the matter.

According to Mr Jirat, the RTN had approved a 200-million-baht budget to salvage the ship and organised an auction in August. About 15 bidders submitted documents on Aug 25 as required in the terms of service, but a "controversial" company submitted its bid three days later and received approval to participate, he said.

On Sept 8, the RTN announced it had called off the auction but did not elaborate on the cause. The RTN then allowed all firms to resubmit their bids.

Mr Jirat claimed the controversial firm was founded on Jan 9 and that a woman executive there had the same last name as Gen Songwit.

Adm Pokkrong denied the allegations made by Mr Jira.

He said the Royal Thai Fleet Division is assigned to supervise the ship salvage, adding it has set up a committee for the bidding process.

About 14 companies were interested in the project, but only six of them submitted their bids on Aug 25, he said.

Citing a report examining the documents of all six bidders, Adm Pokkrong said none had submitted all the required documents, leading to the cessation of technical and price proposals.

He said the panel will soon announce the next auction. "I would like to assure [the public] that the hiring of a ship salvage company and the acquisition of rescue equipment by the RTN are being processed with transparency."

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