The Royal Thai Navy say they want to purchase a second submarine valued at 12 billion baht from China. Under the NCPO military government the cabinet agreed with the navy’s plan in 2016 to buy three submarines from China valued at 36 billion baht. The purchases would be spread over 11 years.
The navy says they’re now waiting for the new parliament to approve the government’s 2020 budget before the purchase of a second submarine can be approved.
Construction began in China on the first submarine for Thailand in September last year and is expected to be delivered to the navy in 2023.
The Navy has struggled to get interest from previous Thai Cabinets but the military government since 2014 was a lot more sympathetic to their requests. The Navy told Cabinet that there have been no submarine purchases for 60 years and the Thai Navy needs submarines to protect the countries marine and coastal interests “including the Andaman Sea and Gulf of Thailand” (we’re not sure what other waters it would be protecting??).
In 2011 the navy wanted to buy six German-made second-hand submarines at a cost of 7.7 billion baht but requests were rejected by the Yingluck Shinawatra government at the time. Since then there has been a political veer to the east and an increase in military spending with China.
Army chief not planning a leap into political life
Army chief General Apirat Kongsompong will have to wait for two years after he retires before he can run for PM, the Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam has declared – while Apirat himself claims it’s not even something he’s considering.
The Nation reports that Prawit Wongsuwan, another Deputy PM, had suggested that Apirat should be Thailand’s next PM, but Wissanu insists this could not happen immediately.
“Apirat is not qualified to be the prime minister because he is a government official and when he retires as Army chief, he will no longer be a senator. According to the Constitution, he has to wait for two years after he retires if he wants to take a position in the Cabinet.”
Apirat claims that a move into politics is not something he’s interested in at this time. Earlier this month, while speaking on the topic of national security, he controversially stated that he was opposed to the efforts to change the junta-sponsored Constitution.
This prompted academics and opposition politicians to accuse him of meddling in politics, with the PM having to defend him, saying Apirat just wanted what was best for Thailand.
Some are viewing Prayut’s defence of the Army chief as paving the way for Apirat to become his successor when his term in office ends.
10 billionaires among Thailand’s 500 MPs
Thailand has 10 billionaire MPs, while the poorest MP has just 5,064 baht in his bank account, according to reports from the Office of the National Anti-Corruption Commission.
Of the 10 billionaire MPs, Mrs. Nathee Ratchakitprakarn, of the Bhumjaithai Party, wife of Tourism and Sports Minister Pipat, is the richest, with declared assets of about 4.675 billion baht.
The other nine billionaire MPs are:
Mr. Anutin Charnvirakul, Bhumjaithai party leader, deputy prime minister and public health minister, with 4.249 billion baht (including two planes, two boats, Buddha images worth 121 million baht and 395 million baht in bank deposits)
Bhumjaithai MP for Satun province, Mr. Piboon Ratchakitprakarn, with 2.342 billion baht
Mr. Suriya Juangroongruangkit, industry minister and Palang Pracharat MP, at 2.198 billion baht
Mr. Apichaiubon, Democrat party-list MP, with assets of 2.048 billion baht
Mr. Nataphol Teepsuwan, Palang Pracharat party-list MP and education minister, with 1.985 billion baht
Khunying Kalaya Sophonpanich, deputy education minister and Democrat party-list MP, with 1.785 billion baht
Ms. Supamat Issarapakdi, Bhumjaithai party-list MP, who has 1.609 billion baht
Mr. Kittisak Khanasawat, Pheu, Thai MP for Maha Sarakham, with 1.529 billion baht
Democrat party-list MP Korn Chatikavanich, with 1.097 billion baht
PM’s Office Minister and Chart Pattana party-list MP Tewan Liptapallop, who has 1.03 billion baht
House Speaker Chuan Leekpai has assets of about 8 million baht
Of the 500 MPs, it appears that Mr. Phisanu Polatee, Bhumjaithai, MP for Pathum Thani province, has the least assets. There was, at the time reporting, only 5,064 baht in his bank account.
Earlier, he reported that he earned 14,000 baht a month from the Provincial Administration Organization. His earnings as an MP since May totaled 829,700 baht. He said he is living in the house of his mother and the car that he has been driving belongs to a friend.
Several MPs have not yet declared their assets to the NACC’s Office, including Future Forward party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and Future Forward MPs Pannika Wanich and Pitha Limcharonrat.
Survey – Thais not taking sides and 66% prioritise health care
The majority of respondents to a Super Poll survey, say that they are still waiting to see where they will put their future support. For now they’re saying they neither support the Government or Opposition, preferring to wait to assess their performance.
Super Poll conducted the survey on 1,069 people from a wide range of occupations nationwide between October 15–19.
The director of Super Poll, Noppadol Kannikar, says that one interesting finding was that 67.2% of respondents admitted that they prefer not to take sides, with the Government or Opposition, because both are currently under-performing and they want to wait to assess their performance.
But 16.9% of the respondents are supportive of the coalition Government, compared to 15.9% who oppose it.
On the question of Government spending, the survey showed 65.9% want quality health care as their top priority, 59.8% want good and secure jobs, 54.3% want security for their lives and property, 50.8% want increased road safety, 48.2% want government help for small and medium-size enterprises and 37.0% want government to provide them with housing.
SOURCE: Thai PBS World
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