The army and cabinet

8 09 2010

PPT readers may remember that we posted some time ago on the military’s budget requests that included funding for the amazing APC deal, where we commented on the lack of transparency on military spending when the army sought approval to buy an additional 121 armoured personnel carriers from the Ukraine while yet to receive any of the 96 vehicles it ordered three years ago from the same manufacturer three years earlier. The APCs hadn’t been delivered because the motors overheat and seize. So the army’s response was … order more. General Anupong Paojinda was said to want the deal done before he retired.

The deal is back in the news because it has just been approved by the Cabinet. The reports of the Cabinet’s decision-making are intriguing different in The Nation and the Bangkok Post.

The Nation reports that Cabinet “approved an Army bid to buy 100 armoured personnel carriers from Ukraine in a government-to-government purchase deal.” Note that it is 121 in the earlier report (above). That earlier report claimed the deal was worth 4.6 billion baht, and The Nation breathlessly says that the ministers “spent more than half an hour questioning representatives from the Army and discussed problems regarding the purchase of BTR-3EI wheeled APCs before giving it the green light.” Wow! More than 30 minutes on an opaque deal for the army when an earlier deal, also worth billions looks like a fizzer. It is good to know that the ministers took this huge expenditure so very seriously at about  133 million baht a minute.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is reported to have “asked the Army representatives why Germany did not sell to Ukraine the Deutz engine that was originally specified in the purchase deal, according to a Government House source. The prime minister also asked whether the contract could be scrapped if vehicles with the new engine … did not pass Army tests.”

Apparently the army “told ministers that the German government decided not to sell Deutz engines to Ukraine for the APCs because of Berlin’s policy of not selling armament to any country subject to political unrest, according to the source.” That could be the Ukraine although Deputy Prime Minister Trairong Suwannakiri “said he had learned that a Muslim organisation had asked Germany not to sell the engines for the APCs because the vehicles could be used in suppression of Muslims in Thailand’s deep South,” suggesting that Thailand’s political unrest is the reason.

Undeterred though, the army claimed a recent test showed the MTU engine was of better than the Deutz engine [both are German engines], although not one APC has shown up in Thailand as far as we know. Apparently the contract allowed the army “to cancel the deal if any of the delivered vehicles did not meet standard requirements.” The army can’t do that on the earlier deal (even if the same contract terms apply) because no APC has been delivered. PPT wonders if the German position is general or just one company?

The Bangkok Post puts a whole different spin on the story, making Abhisit sound like a prime minister willing to stand up to those potentially corrupt men in green: “… Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva voiced strong concern over several issues with the purchase.”

The key change is said to be the purchase of US engines instead of Germany’s Deutz BF 6m015. Matichon reports several engine types: Deutz BF 6m015, MTV 6Ri06TD 21, Allison MD 3066, Allison MD 3200sp. The Deutz and MTV engines only come up as a model in Thai websites. PPT thinks MTV should be MTU. The Allison models appear to be transmissions. In all of this, PPT thinks the change is not to US engines but an MTU powerplant with an Allison transmission. We only go through this to show how a 30 minute discussion must have been insufficient.

But that doesn’t stop the government and Post painting Abhisit as a pillar of good governance because he “fired several questions at army staff, in particular asking why Germany had refused to sell engines to Thailand for the APCs.” He’s worried about image more than 4-5 billion baht, perhaps. It is added that “Abhisit was concerned about the transparency of the contract and whether it was necessary…”. Really? No, because “The prime minister is concerned because he wants good reasons for the public to understand why Germany won’t sell us their engines. This does not concern the engine change, but rather deals with the image of Thailand…”. Image is the issue, not transparency or good governance.

The ever so dull acting government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn “said Germany refused to sell the Deutz engines because of the European Union’s policy not to supply weaponry to countries where human rights, border and ethnic problems exist to prevent the weapons being used for violent suppression.” But MTU engines are from Germany…. Panitan said this compared with “Britain’s refusal to sell fighter jets to Indonesia for use in East Timor” [when the Indonesians were engaged in genocide], “the US’s decision not to supply weapons to Pakistan and Germany’s previous rejection of Thailand’s request to buy an aircraft carrier.” Great company Thailand now keeps.

And, no parliamentary scrutiny of any of the changes.

Bottom line is that for all of Abhisit’s posturing, the whole deal got 30+minutes and was approved. The military gets what it desires. Abhisit owes the generals big time.

Deutz BF 6m015 เป็น MTV 6Ri06TD 21 และเครื่องเปลี่ยนความเร็ว จากเดิม Allison รุ่น MD3066 เป็น Allison รุ่น MD3200sp



4 responses

9 09 2010
Suspicious bombs « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] the politicization of the Department of Special Investigation and its remarkable failures, and the military enjoys the monetary fruits of its coup-making in a very public and corrupt manner all make the government look partisan and water buffalo-like. […]

21 09 2010
Armored personnel carrier costs « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] original choice of Deutz engines from Germany fell foul of export restrictions. The price indicated by the Thai budget bears comparison with prices for other armoured vehicles. […]

5 01 2013
Army and Ukraine purchases « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] the billions shoveled to the military by the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime. Naturally, there were also problems with the APCs suggesting issues like those surrounding the Army’s infamous deflating, crashing, and […]

5 01 2013
Army and Ukraine purchases « Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] the billions shoveled to the military by the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime. Naturally, there were also problems with the APCs suggesting issues like those surrounding the Army’s infamous deflating, crashing, and senseless […]

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