With 3 updates: Prince pays

1 08 2011

The Bangkok Post reports that Prince Vajiralongkorn “will use his personal funds to secure the release of his 737 aircraft that was impounded at Munich airport on July 12…”. That means the prince is claiming to be putting up 20 million euros (or about 846 million baht) as a “security bond for the return of the Boeing 737” which the Thai government claims is the prince’s personal property.

The prince stated that he “hoped the payment of the bond would help end the legal dispute between the Thai government and German construction company Walter Bau AG over revenue sharing from toll fees on the Don Muang Tollway.” He added, in a letter reproduced by the Post (but too small for PPT to read – see update below), that he “did not wish to be involved in the dispute, and wanted it to be settled quickly and smoothly…”.

The statement released by his Secretariat said the prince “wanted to show benevolence to his country, and did not want the dispute to affect the cordial relations between Thailand and Germany.”

PPT imagines that this decision will raise even more questions. The rumor mill will be running hot. One question will be about the source of the “personal” funds. Many will believe that the government has really paid. Others will soon be claiming that Thaksin Shinawatra has paid.

PPT wonders about the reason for deciding to pay now, after earlier saying that no bond should be paid. Is it just that the prince has bags of money laying about and he doesn’t like his other 737 as much as the seized one?

More seriously, we wonder if the prince, his advisers and the government have finally realized the folly of the claims they have been making? Have they also recognized the disastrously negative PR impact the episode has had for the monarchy, raising questions about state and personal property that they’d rather not have asked? Will this belated effort take such questions off the table?

Update 1: PPT just found a better copy of the prince’s letter, here. See Bangkok Pundit’s guarded comments here. PPT will have more once we have had a chance to read the letter in detail.

Update 2: In fact, there is not much more to add after reading the letter. The prince makes it clear that his move was made so that the the damage to him can be limited. As The Nation puts it, the prince “did not wish his name to be involved any longer in the dispute as it tarnished his honour.” He was concerned by the negative domestic and international media coverage.

Update 3: PPT highly recommends Bangkok Pundit’s post that tries to make sense of brief reports concerning a meeting between Abhisit and the prince, the bond and a claim that the government is also about to pay a bond. In fact, PPT can see no reason why the state would pay a bond if the prince has already paid one. Reader’s comments by email are welcomed.


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