A Pheu Thai Party MP claims there are irregularities in the navy’s controversial submarine procurement programme, adding the military branch is being duped into buying vessels with no engines.
Yutthapong Charasathian, deputy Pheu Thai Party leader and MP for Maha Sarakham, yesterday during a weekly press briefing at party headquarters took aim at the navy’s plan to buy three submarines from China.
The first submarine was already bought for 13.5 billion baht and is due for delivery next year.
However, the procurement of two other submarines, valued at 22.5 billion baht, is still in limbo and could be put on hold due to financial constraints caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a source in the navy.
Mr Charasathian claimed China Shipbuilding & Offshore International Co (CSOC), which signed the submarine contract with the navy, does not represent the Chinese government.
The CSOC is a private company, which means the submarine contract that the navy signed with the CSOC was not a government-to-government deal, he said.
Mr Charasathian said there is also a project to construct a submarine base in two phases worth about 1.85 billion baht.
Mr Charasathian also said the company sent four personnel to Thailand to work on the submarine base construction project, but it turned out they applied for work permits to teach the Chinese language.
“Did they dupe the government and the navy?” he said.
He also claimed that the first submarine, due for delivery, has no engines because China cannot manufacture diesel engines for submarines and will have to buy them from Germany.
Under the CSOC contract, the submarine must be powered by engines supplied by Germany’s MTU, but the company refused to sell the engine to China, Mr Charasathian alleged.
He said he had received information that the CSOC will replace Germany’s engine with a Chinese-made engine for the submarine instead.
Mr Charasathian said he will bring the matter to the attention of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, and ask him to stop any move to replace the engine type stipulated in the contract.
The change could lead to a glitch in the submarine, putting naval officers at risk, Mr Charasathian said.