Thai Ombudsman seeks 3G injunction

Don Sambandaraksa
09 Nov 2012

Thailand’s road to 3G licensing hit a significant setback when the Office of the Ombudsman yesterday filed a lawsuit against the regulator for breaching the constitution in the October auction.

As expected, the office of the ombudsman in a unanimous vote by all three members decided that the regulator had broken article 47 of the constitution as well as as a number of articles of the frequency allocation act. Article 47 lays down the rules for an independent telecom regulator.

The Ombudsman has filed a case with the administrative court and asked for both an emergency hearing and an injunction to prevent the licences being issued.

The argument made is that the five-member telecommunications sub-board does not have the authority to ratify the auction nor to issue licences. The constitution and the frequency allocation act clearly say that that right belongs to the regulator, which means the entire 11-member board.

The telecom board members have argued that the NBTC board has delegated them the authority to do so in various meetings.

But the senator who drew up the case, Paiboon Nititawan, has said that the NBTC simply cannot delegate its constitutional responsibilities to a third party.

NBTC chairman Air Chief Marshal Thares Punsri has refused to call an emergency meeting of the full 11-member board despite and has recently said that the telecom sub-board was doing its work well despite the public outcry over the non-auction.

A separate case initiated by the ministry of finance is still with the counter corruption commission which focuses on the lack of competition in the bid and alleges that the NBTC designed a fixed auction and not, as has been widely reported, that the three telcos colluded in the bid.

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