October 24, 2023
BANGKOK – On Sunday, Move Forward Party MP Wiroj Lakkhanaadisorn, who chairs the House committee on military affairs, said he wanted the Navy chief to explain whether the decision had been changed because the Chinese shipbuilder had broken the contract. If that was the case, then why did the RTN not end the contract and ask for a refund of the 7 billion baht paid, he asked.
Sutin, meanwhile, said on Monday he was ready to explain the issue to both the committee and the House panel’s chairman in person.
Sutin said the change should not be seen as the Chinese shipbuilder violating the contract, just seen as non-compliance to the contract.
“I don’t regard this as a violation of the contract, except it simply did not turn out as agreed upon,” Sutin said.
He explained that it was a government-to-government deal and that the authorities had also taken into account strategic cooperation, not just the trade agreement.
The RTN had signed a contract in 2017 to purchase an S26T Yuan-class submarine that had to be fitted with a German-made diesel engine. However, Germany prohibits such engines from being used in Chinese military hardware.
Later the RTN rejected Beijing’s proposal to use a Chinese-made engine on the submarine and decided to buy a frigate that could fight submarines instead.
The new frigate project will cost 17 billion baht, 1 billion baht more than the original submarine procurement.
Sutin said Thailand does not stand to lose in this deal, because though it costs more, the frigate will be well worth the investment.
He said the decision was only made after considering all pros and cons, including legal complications.
“We consider this to be the best way out,” he said.