Further updated: Jet released if government posts bond

21 07 2011

The Boeing 737 that the Thai government claims it gave to Prince Vajiralongkorn as his personal property will be released by German courts only if the Thai government post 20 million euros as a guarantee. In other words, not only has the Thai taxpayer been required to pay for a very large gift to the prince, but now must also stump up money to allow the plane to returned to the royal “owner.”

Whose plane?

The Nation and the Bangkok Post both have headlines that suggest that this huge double whammy to the Thai taxpayer is some kind of victory. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The Nation says: “The Boeing 737 was seized at Munich airport…. However the court in Landshut near Munich today allowed the plane, valued at around 20 million euros, to be released following assurances that it was the private property of the Crown Prince and not that of the Thai state.”

Well, sort of. As the Post makes especially clear, the “vice president of the court, Christoph Fellner, said … that since these documents provided only a ‘presumption of ownership,’ 20 million euros ($28.2 million, 848 million baht) had to be deposited in the form of a bank guarantee.” Fellner stated: “No guarantee means no take-off…”. It is added that the “guarantee was set at that level because that was estimated to be the value of the plane…”.

In other words, the court is not convinced that the plane has been gifted to the prince. This case continues to raise important questions regarding the lack of separation of state and crown property and the ability of the monarchy to receive unaccountable state subsidies.

Update 1: For more of the strawberry fields photos, SLK and a fleet of black Mercedes, see here. For international stories on the court’s decision, see Reuters, BBC, Forbes, and AFP. All make it clear that the Bangkok Post is wrong to suggest that “The court demanded a hefty bank guarantee which allows the end of the episode.” The ownership of the aircraft remains unclear for the court.

Update 2: The outgoing foreign minister’s response is more of the same. As the Bangkok Post reports, “Thailand will not hand over the 20 million euros (846 million baht ) bank guarantee for the release of the Crown Prince’s impounded jet and will fight the case to the end, Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said on Thursday.”

Perhaps Kasit is flicking this to the incoming government?

“Kasit said foreign ministry officials, the director of the Department of Civil Aviation, representatives of the Royal Thai Air Force and legal experts will travel to Germany to fight the case.” More taxpayer expense.

“They will insist  that the plane is the private property of His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, not the Thai government.” Maybe they can manage to come up with some more documents? But Kasit reckons the Germans are just wrong, for the Thais have “already provided necessary evidence and documents to the German court and there was no need for Thai authorities to deposit the bank guarantee for the release of the Boeing 737 jet plane…”.

The problem seems to be that only a Thai government official can understand the mumbo-jumbo associated with the royal family sucking on the public purse.


Actions

Information

One response

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

[…] 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 belongs to Prince Vajiralongkorn, […]