The Royal Thai Navy has stated today, July 17th, 2021, through a spokesperson, that they are moving forward with a controversial plan to purchases two submarines from China.
The Navy has officially submitted a proposal this week to the parliamentary budget committee considering the fiscal budgets for the 2022 year, which if approved, would give final approval to the purchase of the submarines.
According to Admiral Chettha Jaipiam, a spokesperson for the RTN, the purchase is part of the “duty” of the Royal Thai Navy to protect the country.
“Covid-19 has been a horrific situation for the country and we certainly understand the concerns from opposition parties and citizens on social media. However, the purchase of these two submarines is part of a legal contractual deal, put into place and signed well before Covid-19, with China. Breaking this legal contract would be nearly impossible and could put Thailand into a difficult situation as well. China has been gracious and offered reductions in payment for the submarines due to the current situation.” Chettha stated to the press this morning.
“Additionally, the budget for this submarine deal is entirely out of the 2022 fiscal year and has nothing to do with current budgets to fight the pandemic, which will likely be subsided and under control by the time these budgets come into effect mid-next year. The government has already significantly cut our own budgets at the Royal Thai Navy since last March to help fight the Covid-19 pandemic and we are fully committed to that as well.” Chettha concluded.
Reaction on social media, notes TPN, was largely negative despite the explanation, with many stating that regardless of where the money came from or the legalities of the situation with China that the visual perception of the deal at the current time was not appropriate.