Royal Thai Navy
The Office of the Ombudsman of Thailand (OOT) has dismissed allegations of irregularities in the junta’s multi-billion baht submarine deal with China. Raksagecha Chaechai, Secretary-General of the OOT, announced that the OTT found no irregularities in the 13.5 billion baht submarine procurement of the Royal Thai Navy (RTN), concluding that is not unconstitutional. He said a five-member committee tasked with investigating the matter concluded that the procurement was done in accordance with national strategic defence policy and that the RTN proposed the procurement.
Social media has exploded in indignation over news that a naval college field trip to Japan was marked more by onsen springs and skiing than training and development. The corruption watchdog group Watchdog ACT has revealed details of a trip to Japan taken by a class of the Royal Thai Naval Command and Staff College which was sanctioned by the Naval Education Department. A significant portion of the itinerary appears to bear no relevance to the trip’s formal purpose of ‘observing work’.
Soldiers have visited an activist calling for an investigation into the junta’s controversial submarine deal with China. On 8 May 2017, soldiers visited the house of Srisuwan Janya, Secretary-General of a political group called the Association to Protect the Thai Constitution (APTC). “At 2:30 pm, [they] missed me and paid a visit,” Srisuwan posted on his Facebook account.
Amid widespread public opposition, the Thai junta has given the green light to a controversial plan to spend billions of baht on a Chinese submarine. On 24 January 2017, Adm Jumpol Lumpiganon, spokesman of the Royal Thai Navy (RTN), announced that the government of Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, the junta leader and Prime Minister, has approved the purchase of a submarine from China. The 13.5 billion baht purchase has been cleared by the junta-appointed National Legislative Assembly.
The Royal Thai Navy has accused 55 people of illegally occupying public land in a tourist town in eastern Thailand. On 13 September 2016, the Information Office of the Naval Civil Affairs Department reported that the Royal Thai Navy (RTN) has filed a complaint against 55 individuals at Sattahip District Police Station in Chonburi Province. The RTN accused the 55 of encroaching on public land plots in Samae San sub-district of Sattahip, a popular tourist destination along the eastern coast.
Citing arms race in Southeast Asia as a primary reason, the Thai junta has embraced a plan to equip the Royal Thai Navy with submarines. However, many wonder if the extra 36 billion baht in military spending could be a burden to the struggling Thai economy when it could be spent on other necessities.
A provincial court in southern Thailand has dismissed defamation charges against two journalists accused of defaming the Royal Thai Navy for reporting an allegation that ‘Thai naval forces’ were involved in trafficking Rohingya.
Witness testimony has ended in the defamation case brought by the Royal Thai Navy against two fruit vendors in Phuket, with the verdict set to be delivered at the end of the next month. The case rests on a misspelled English sign, written in marker pen on a scrap of cardboard, which the defendants displayed on their fruit stall last year. The sign read ‘Naval oranges cheep’.
The decision by the Royal Thai Army to charge Pornpen Khongkachonkiet and the Cross Cultural Foundation with criminal defamation is in line with similar charges brought earlier by the Royal Thai Navy against Phuketwan online newspaper. It also heralds a slew of similar prosecutions which critics say are designed to silence any criticism of the governing military junta and the government they have installed.
Interview with the Phuketwan journalists who face charges for reporting the trafficking of Rohingya refugees