Thai opposition calls out Prayut over military spending

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A leader of Thailand’s opposition has called out PM Prayut Chan-o-cha over military spending. The deputy leader of the Pheu Thai Party, Yuttapong Charasathien, criticised the government’s plans to purchase submarines and F-35 fighter jets.

He said that Prayut should have scrapped a submarine deal when it became obvious that the Chinese manufacturer, China Shipbuilding & Offshore International Co, couldn’t supply German engines by next month’s deadline.

Meanwhile, Yuttapong called out the navy’s plans to buy F-35 stealth jets from the US. He said that since Thailand’s public debt has increased to over 60% of the GDP, government spending should go to development and financial relief.

The Royal Thai Air Force agreed to buy the jets in January, citing a need to beef up Thailand’s national defence. Its planes are now over 30 years old, creating a safety risk. The air force also said now is a good time to purchase since prices have dropped. It will pay almost 22 billion baht if it buys eight jets. The only countries in the Indo-pacific that have purchased these jets from the United States are Australia, Japan, South Korea, and Singapore.

It’s not just the budget that’s an issue, but also the time the air force’s procurement process might take. Yuttapong pointed out that it could take almost two years since the order process has to be examined by US lawmakers.

Prayut hit back at Yuttapong’s callout on both the submarines and the jets. He said the government will not accept the delivery of the submarines unless they meet the requirements specified in the deal’s terms of reference. Prayut also said that Thailand will go ahead with its plans on the jets since the air force submitted the order request to the US last year.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Tara Abhasakun

A Thai-American dual citizen, Tara has reported news and spoken on a number of human rights and cultural news issues in Thailand. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in history from The College of Wooster. She interned at Southeast Asia Globe, and has written for a number of outlets. Tara reports on a range of Thailand news issues.

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