Thai Airways and PAD

9 12 2009

It is a busy news day, and PPT hopes that readers will click back through the stories we are posting. The Nation has a rash of quite bizarre op-eds and reports in its 10 December issue, with the op-ed writers being more frenzied in their anti-red shirt tales than usual.

In this post, though, we half wonder if there is a tiny connection between two of their stories.

The first, widely-reported story, is of Thai Airways International seeking civil damages of 575 million baht from the leaders of the People’s Alliance of Democracy (PAD) for their occupation of Bangkok’s airports last year (10 December 2009: “THAI seeks Bt670m in compensation from PAD leaders”). The Aeronautical Radio of Thailand filed another case against Chamlong and 13 others seeking more than 103 million baht.

The cases name PAD core leaders including Chamlong Srimuang, Sondhi Limthongkul, Phipob Dhongchai, Somsak Kosaisuk, Somkiat Pongpaiboon and Kasit Piromya. Somkiat is a serving Democrat Party parliamentarian and Kasit is Democrat Party foreign minister. Their first hearing is scheduled for 22 February, but dates slip.

For example, last year, “one day after the PAD seized the airports, the Airports of Thailand Company filed a civil case against 12 leaders of the group seeking Bt150 million in damages,” but nothing much has happened. Meanwhile, the “police officer in charge of investigating criminal charges against the PAD leaders said yesterday the probe was almost complete and that the investigators were analysing recordings of protest leaders addressing the crowds. A year on and little is changed in the police department.

It might be speculated that Thai Airways moved, at the very last opportunity, because the official investigations are going nowhere.

The second story at The Nation (10 December 2009: “Has THAI chairman lost his luggage?”) has Thai Airways International executive board chairman Wallop Bhukkanasut is being accused of malfeasance and abuse of his position. The claims are from the airline’s union, which was strong  in support of PAD and reportedly facilitated the airport occupations. The speculation is that this story is an internal board conflict at the airline, with Wallop on a different side from the new company president Piyasvasti Amranand.

That’s probably the story, but the coincidence is interesting to say the least.

Update: We found this comment from a reader interesting and want to pass it on to our readers: “Let’s not forget that the new THAI president, Piyasvasti Amranand, is a political appointee: his wife is a Democrat Party MP, and his period in the sun as head of NEPO (the National Energy Policy Office) was largely under Dep PM Savit Bhodhivihok of the Democrats.  And furthermore, he has major issues with Thaksin because Thaksin more or less fired him from NEPO, due to policy disagreements (Thaksin wanted a unified and strong EGAT, Piyasvasti wanted the English model of many mini EGATs).  Piyasvasti has been floundering in various senior private and quasi-government sector appointments so far, and this is by far his most significant appointment.  Due to this back history, I suspect that if not for significant foreign shareholdings of THAI’s stock, the airport hijacking issue would be swept under the carpet.”


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29 12 2009
New: Korn, THAI and privilege « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] This claim follows on the heels of an earlier press interest in a Thai Airways executive who was targeted with claims of huge amounts of free excess baggage. PPT made some comments here. […]