Impounded plane is “personal property”

15 07 2011

The Bangkok Post reports on the Boeing 737 (HS-CMV) impounded at Munich airport. As PPT posted previously, this plane is used by Prince Vajiralongkorn.

The aircraft is quite active – or was – in European airspace. The prince is known to use this aircraft as he regularly jets from Thailand to Europe, and especially Germany. There are many rumors about the alleged reasons behind these regular transcontinental flights.

In the Post report, outgoing Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya is said to have “left for Germany last night to seek the release of HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn’s plane impounded at Munich airport by German liquidators since Tuesday…”.

Note the term “HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn’s plane.” Kasit is quoted: “This airplane is personal property, not that of the Thai government. So the German government cannot seize it…”. It seems Kasit and the Thai government are choosing to make an argument that is very thorny indeed. It is also potentially explosive.

The plane is decked out in the prince’s livery and, as Bangkok Pundit points out, some documents list the plane as belonging to the prince. Other documentation at that site has the plane being registered to the Royal Thai Air Force.

The question of ownership and the distinction between state property and that of the royals is complicated. For example, the Crown Property Bureau has claimed that its assets are state property when clearly they are not.

It is increasingly clear that while the distinction between royal property and state property was made clear several decades ago, the increasing wealth of the royal family, its extensive business interests, and the campaigns of several decades to restore the political and economic power of the monarchy have increasingly blurred the distinction. Fawning of the monarchy by state officials also means that almost no one is prepared to raise questions when state property is transmogrified into something else.

The Nation reports that “Thai Ambassador to Germany Charivat Santaputra quickly contacted the German Foreign Ministry to explain its legal status…”. Kasit is reported to have said that the Thai government had “explained the situation and submitted all relevant documents to Germany to prove the legal status of the aircraft…”.

Now that the Thai government has raised the issue of ownership, PPT is sure that further questions are likely to be asked about the true ownership of this aircraft. PPT can’t help wondering if the government is prepared to walk away from the plane, and leave it to the liquidators, rather than have details of ownership, transfer and possession dragged through the courts. Clearly, Kasit is hoping for another outcome by bringing pressure on the German government to prevent disclosures. Even so, the rumor mill will be hard at work and Kasit, the MFA and the German embassy will be copping plenty of heat.


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17 07 2011
Updated: More on the plane saga | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] that is going on here. Frankly, we doubt that many Thais will comprehend it. PPT thinks we explained it in an earlier post. However, we have little doubt that the jet is truly private as the government must be paying all […]

23 07 2011
Stranger and stranger on the plane | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] the seized Boeing 737 saga that began with the seizure of the aircraft several days ago (see here, here, here, here, here, here and here) and the Thai government’s sustained claim that the plane […]

13 08 2011
Crown versus the public | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] a bond for the release of an aircraft the government claims “belongs” to the prince. As PPT stated in its second post on this saga, the question of ownership raised serious issues of the relationship between crown and […]

27 08 2012
Monarchies in comparison « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] – how much taxpayer money goes to support the royal family, its activities, projects and personal spending. Efforts have been made to cull information from Budget Bureau papers, but there is no clarity and […]

27 08 2012
Monarchies in comparison « Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] opaque – how much taxpayer money goes to support the royal family, its activities, projects and personal spending. Efforts have been made to cull information from Budget Bureau papers, but there is no clarity and […]