Thai telcos call for probe into senator

Don Sambandaraksa
29 Nov 2012

Thailand’s three telcos have asked the senate speaker to investigate for improper conduct the senator who lodged the lawsuit trying to halt the nation's 3G auction.

The request was sent in a letter signed by AIS CEO Vichien Mektrakarn, Dtac chief corporate affairs officer Darmp Sukontasap, True VP Athueck Asavanand and Vichai Benjarongkakul, president of the telecommunications association of Thailand.

Vichai, who was co-CEO of Dtac until 2005, accused the ethics and governance sub-committee - led by senator Paiboon Nititawan - of acting in haste and submitting a complaint to the counter corruption commission before the telcos were called in to give testimony.

The sub-committee's complaint had accused the three telcos of breaking articles 10, 11 and 12 of the public sector tender act and of collusion.

Article 10 stipulates a 1-10 year prison term for state officials who knowingly fail to halt an illegal auction. Articles 11 and 12 talk about a 5 year to life prison term for designing a fixed auction and for bias in an auction, respectively.

The complaint asked the senate speaker to launch an inquiry into the senate ethics and governance sub-committee and the senators involved.

Vichai said that certain senators had made public comments that were defamatory to the telcos, clearly referring to senator Paiboon. He also said that this investigation did not preclude further lawsuits against the senators involved.

However, no mention was made in the complaint of senator Paiboon’s core argument: that the NBTC did not do what it was mandated by the constitution to do (hold the 3G auction, ratify it and issue licences), but instead delegated that constitutional responsibility to the telecoms board, which is essentially a third party.

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