DEPUTY Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan today (August 24) denied lobbying a House subcommittee to approve the purchase of two submarines from China for a total of 22.5 billion baht while pointing out that the contract is not null and void as claimed by Pheu Thai Party, Sanook.com reported.
When questioned by reporters about a “General Por” lobbying the subcommittee to approve this purchase, Gen. Prawit answered with a smile, “How can I lobby? It’s a matter for the subcommittee to decide.”
The Deputy Prime Minister, who is also the head of Palang Pracharath Party, pointed that Pheu Thai Party was wrong in saying that the contract to purchase the subs was null and void as when he was in charge it was not so with the contract having been signed.
Meanwhile Adm. Sitthiporn Maskasem, the navy Chief of Staff, led a team of high-ranking naval officers to explain the purchase of the submarines.
He pointed that it was necessary to obtain these two submarines and the purchase was being carried out according to the government-to-government (G-to-G) contract.
Any postponement would affect the credibility of the country, he said, adding that there would be negotiations with China to postpone payment till fiscal 2021 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Moreover payment would be spread out over seven years at approximately 3 billion baht a year.
At this same naval press conference Vadm. Prachachat Sirisawat, deputy chief of staff of the navy and its spokesman, blasted Pheu Thai Party MP Mr. Yuttaphong Jaratsathien who had revealed classified naval documents and criticized the navy.
Vadm. Prachachat said the MP had distorting the truth which led to disunity and a buildup of hatred towards the military.
This issue should not be used as a political move and was in fact an old political strategy, he added.
“The accusation that the contract for the purchase of the submarines is fake is not true. Pheu Thai’s rice purchase scheme, which was G-to-G, was in fact incorrect.
“The navy is buying on correct and transparent G-to-G basis. We urge the people to not become victims of politics. News given out by Pheu Thai is aimed at political gain and is selfish,” he said.
Top: Deputy Prime Minister Prawit talking to reporters today. Thai headline says, “How can I lobby?” Photo: Sanook.com