Prawit stands by Preecha son's projects
The son of defence permanent secretary Preecha Chan-o-cha won military contracts in a straightforward, compliant manner through proper bidding mechanisms, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon says.
Gen Prawit said Wednesday the seven construction projects under the supervision of the 3rd Army Region -- won by Contemporary Construction, owned by Pathompol, Gen Preecha's son -- had been open to qualified bidders.
"The bidding process was accessible to all bidders, provided they did everything in a straightforward manner," he said.
He added that no regulation was in place specifically barring Mr Pathompol from entering the bidding process.
- Commentary: All in the family
Whoever submitted the lowest bid and was able to satisfy the project specifications was awarded the contracts, he said.
Gen Prawit suggested there was no collusion among bidders as the projects went through the e-bidding system and no bidder knew what prices other competitors submitted.
He was confident the issue would not get out of hand although he acknowledged it was normal that people were suspicious with the military projects having been obtained by a Chan-o-cha.
Association for the Protection of the Constitution (APC) secretary-general Srisuwan Janya questioned Wednesday how a newly-established firm with so little capital was able to win military projects worth millions of baht.
The APC will today ask the National Anti-Corruption Commission to check for any irregularities with the bidding process and the projects awarded to Contemporary Construction.
According to the Isra News website, the firm won seven projects with the 3rd Army Region between December 2014 and April this year worth a combined 97 million baht.
The project of highest value is the 25-million-baht construction of a building for the 2nd Infantry Battalion's 14th Infantry Regiment, in Tak.
Isra reported that Contemporary Construction was formally established on May 4, 2012 with registered capital of one million baht with Mr Pathompol, 33, holding 50% of the shares. The remaining shares are owned by Wallapa Chan-o-cha, 32.
On Dec 18, 2013, the firm recapitalised with a new shareholder, Patcharin Theerawongpassakorn, 35. The firm's share value went up to 1.5 million baht with Ms Patcharin holding 500,000 baht worth of shares, according to Isra.
Gen Preecha reiterated he had nothing to do with his son landing the military projects as he had vacated a post in the 3rd Army Region long before the controversy erupted.
He added he was ready to explain any doubts or suspicion over the issue.
Also Wednesday, Gen Preecha defended the controversial weir in Chiang Mai named after his wife, Pongphan. He explained the 7,800-baht budget had been properly disbursed by the Office of the Defence Permanent Secretary's (ODPS) Wives Association, which Ms Pongphan chairs.
He said the association had properly spent the fund because it is an organisation under the ODPS and the budget was allocated for a public relations drive. The weir was built with the help of soldiers and local residents. The locals agreed to name it after his wife out of respect for her.