Helping friends and supporters

19 04 2019

The military junta has managed to stare down efforts to investigate its corruption. It has been able to do this by intimidation and because it has made puppets of all the state and “independent” agencies that are meant to investigate corruption. And, of course, the friends, supporters and companies that benefit are happy to pocket the gains.

So it is quite something to see that a private sector peak body has “slammed the government for giving Airports of Thailand Plc (AoT) latitude in handling the controversial duty-free shop bidding, demanding accountability for a process that would damage the country.”

For a decade, duty free has been a monopoly, commanded by the King Power group (search out tag for additional posts), massively enriching the late Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and his family and provided additional sustenance for associated political, military and royal “partners.”

This huge value of duty free stores is why there is now great competition to get hands on the goose and its golden eggs. And, it is why there’s some voice being heard about the shenanigans over the bidding (both open and behind closed doors).

It is why Worawoot Ounjai, president of the Thai Retailers Association, has slammed “the latest ruling on the bidding process for the duty-free shop concession [that] will allow the AoT to arrange the bidding by itself.” Worawoot states: “As this [junta’s] administration comes to an end, we’ve witnessed much news about its decisions that benefit several business groups,…”.

He mentions a range of recent junta decisions and wheeling and dealing, “from high-speed trains and telecom to duty-free shop concessions,” and he pointedly says that “Thais have to ask this government if it will be responsible for future actions that bring damage to the country…”.

When business groups start demanding “accuracy and transparency,” you know that shady deals are being done. Worwoot declares:

We’ve seen poor results from this type of bidding before and called on the government for accuracy and transparency. But the answer comes as expected. We have to get over it because this is the state of our country.

If the election tinkering goes as expected and Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha and the junta’s Palang Pracharath Party control government, bet on this situation worsening.


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