11 July 2024

The Royal Thai Navy’s top brass lined up on Monday to defend the 22.5 billion baht procurement of two Chinese-made submarines and accused the opposition Pheu Thai party of politicizing the issue, to cause public misunderstanding and enmity towards the military.

“We reaffirm that the Royal Thai Navy (RTN) has done everything transparently. The fake G-to-G rice deal should not be used to stir up a political storm,” said Admiral Sitthiporn Matkasem, the Navy’s Chief-of-Staff, apparently referring to the Government-to-Government rice deal undertaken by the administration of former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, of the Pheu Thai party, which was found to be fake.

He maintained that military procurement projects are not supposed to be disclosed to the public because they are related to national security.

Vice Admiral Thalerngsak Sirisawat, head of the Naval Operations Directorate, disclosed that Thailand has had four submarines since 1938, and they were used to confront the French colonial navy, but they have been decommissioned.

Stressing the need for Thailand to have the submarines, while most of its neighbours already have them, including Vietnam has six, Indonesia has five and Singapore has four, the Vice Admiral said having its own submarine fleet will strengthen Thailand’s position in maritime territory negotiations and in protecting Thailand’s marine resources, worth an estimated 24 trillion baht.

Vice Admiral Thirakul Kanchana, head of the Navy’s Comptroller Department, explained that the 22.5 billion baht estimated cost of the two submarines will be paid in instalments over seven years.

Captain Thadavuth Tudpitakkul, deputy director of the Naval Procurement Office, said that the G-to-G submarine agreement is legitimate and not a fake, as alleged by the Pheu Thai party.

“The RTN has never lied to the people or given false information that caused public division,” said Thadavuth.