NBTC's No.2 quits for politics

NBTC's No.2 quits for politics

Vice-chairman Settapong Malisuwan (holding the iPhone) is quitting the lame-duck board of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) to dive into politics with Bhumjaithai. (File photo by Pornprom Satrabhaya)
Vice-chairman Settapong Malisuwan (holding the iPhone) is quitting the lame-duck board of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) to dive into politics with Bhumjaithai. (File photo by Pornprom Satrabhaya)

Settapong Malisuwan has quit as vice-chairman of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) to pursue a political career in the Bhumjaithai Party.

Col Settapong tendered his resignation letter to the NBTC Wednesday with immediate effect, he said.

He said he had taken an interest in politics and decided to join Bhumjaithai now that he has stepped down from the commission. "My career choice has to be made clear," he said.

It took him three days to consider his options before he decided to enter politics and join the party, he said.

Col Settapong said the resignation would not have an adverse impact on the NBTC or pile a bigger workload onto the remaining commissioners.

The resignation leaves veteran telecoms expert Col Natee Sukonrat as the sole vice-chairman under the commission's chairman, Gen Thares Punsri.

Col Settapong was appointed to the NBTC for a six-year term in September, 2011. He entered the commission straight from his former position at the Defence Ministry's Radio, Television and Telecommunications Office.

The official term of the NBTC board, including Col Settapong and its high-profile secretary-general Takorn Tantasith, officially expired on Oct 1, 2017, but was prolonged indefinitely by order of the military regime.

Mr Takorn had told the media that he and other members would work only as caretakers, and would not make any important decisions. In an exclusive interview with the Bangkok Post, he said the existing board would not hold or set regulations for bandwidth auctions.

However, last March, in a landmark decision, the Council of State authorised the existing board to "act as he NBTC", with full powers.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha never has explained the regime's decision to keep on the current NBTC board beyond its expiration date.

Meanwhile, Bhumjaithai has denied it is forging links with other parties in support of Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha returning as prime minister in the next election.

It has been alleged the party favours Gen Prayut making a comeback as prime minister after Sino Thai Engineering and Construction PCL, in which Bhumjaithai leader Anuthin Charnvirakul has shares, was awarded infrastructure projects by the regime.

Songsak Thongsri, the party's deputy leader, insisted it was not taking sides as it was capable of deciding on its own which coalition bloc it will join after the election, tentatively set for Feb 24.

The accusation that the party has pledged loyalty to the regime was a ploy to discredit it, he said. Bhumjaithai has been gaining traction with voters and certain political elements are bent on setting it back, he added.

Mr Songsak said Mr Anuthin is only one of many shareholders in Sino Thai Engineering. Whoever benefits from the projects it has won has little to do with Mr Anuthin or the direction of the party, he claimed.


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