The incompetence and corruption of the military

8 03 2010

The Bangkok Post (8 March 2010) has an op-ed by Veera Prateepchaikul and an editorial questioning the military and army chief Anupong Pachinda, both saying essentially the same thing.

They attack Anupong for his negative attitude to public scrutiny of apparently corrupt purchases (GT200, Sky Dragon); if they are not corrupt, they are simply stupidly incompetent. They also question his judgment. They point to a long list of previous “ poorly thought out purchases” and list the country’s greatest white elephant ever, the multi-billion-baht aircraft carrier purchased from Spain during the height of the country’s economic growth in the late 20th century.” It is now essentially mothballed as a tourist attraction, but has a nice suite for the royals if they ever decide to flee Thailand a la Prajadhipok. Then again, it’d probably sink along the way.

Added are “vertical takeoff jets bought with the carrier, which have never effectively flown in combat or war exercises. Then there’s the “equally ground-bound Alpha jets purchased against massive public opposition, and the recent Gripen fighter purchases.” And the list gets longer: Ukrainian armoured cars, Chinese tanks, and so on and so on.

PPT doesn’t believe these are “ poorly thought out purchases”; they are simply ways for generals to line their pockets and buy expensive houses, watches, cars, etc. (when they’re not receiving these trinkets for free a la the privy councilors Prem and Surayudh).

The Post even asks where Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is. It notes that he spoke out on the GT200, but “failed to order his own Defence Ministry or the army chief to stop using the fake bomb detectors. The premier has not commented on the failed attempts to get the Sky Dragon airborne and functioning. It is added: “The government has increased concern by refusing to address these and other recent matters of extremely poor judgement or worse by the military brass. The apparent waste of money came as the country struggled with a recession that touched almost every family in the country. Such waste is inexcusable. Clearly, better oversight of military spending is needed, and the sooner the better.

Well, yes, but this government owes its genesis and continuation to its military buddies. What does the Post editorialist expect? The military got off the leash in 2006 with its illegal coup and they are now making money hand over fist. That’s the price Thailand now has to pay and Abhisit isn’t about to get the military offside when he needs them so badly.



One response

7 03 2011
Korn on military spending but not electoral buying power | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Yes, Minister, but how can you get “best value for money” if you have “no idea” what they are doing with their budget? And what of failed zeppelins, “lost” arms, GT 200s and so on? […]

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