Submerged in controversy: Sutin to meet PM over submarine deal

Photo courtesy of The Nation

Defence Minister Sutin Klungsang announced today that he will meet Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin next week to discuss the controversial submarine procurement project.

Sutin revealed that if the prime minister approves, the proposal will be swiftly submitted to the Cabinet for final approval.

“Once China answers this key question, I will compile all the information for the prime minister to consider. If the PM says the project can go ahead, then we’ll go ahead. But if he wants more information, then we’ll wait and see.”

The urgency is palpable, with China keenly awaiting the conclusion of the deal.

“They want it to be concluded because they have invested a lot of time and want to see it done.”

Sutin was cautious, however, to avoid confirming whether this eagerness translated to pressure, noting instead that China was “seeking an understanding.”

Initially, the Royal Thai Navy (RTN) intended to purchase three S26T Yuan-class submarines from China for around US$1.06 billion (around 38 billion baht). Budget constraints later forced Thailand to reduce its order to one submarine for 13.5 billion baht.

Complications arose when the German-made MTU-396 diesel engine, initially part of the 2017 contract, became unavailable, prompting China to offer a domestic CHD620 engine as a substitute.

Last year, the submarine purchase was shelved in favour of a Chinese frigate. However, after renewed negotiations in May, the RTN reverted to the submarine deal. The Defence Ministry is now working on amending the contract, guided by the Council of State, which serves as the government’s legal adviser.

The contract amendment will focus on extending the contract’s term and changing the engine type. Sutin has ensured that all necessary information will be provided to the Cabinet before final deliberation, reported The Nation.

“In principle, the amended contract will have to win a final approval from the Cabinet.”

In related news, the escalating civil conflict in Myanmar prompted the RTN to keep four ships on standby in the Andaman Sea, prepared to evacuate Thai citizens if required.

Bangkok NewsPolitics NewsThailand News

Puntid Tantivangphaisal

Originally from Hong Kong, Puntid moved to Bangkok in 2020 to pursue further studies in translation. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Hong Kong. Puntid spent 8 years living in Manchester, UK. Before joining The Thaiger, Puntid has been a freelance translator for 2 years. In her free time, she enjoys swimming and listening to music, as well as writing short fiction and poetry.

Related Articles