ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Nationalism invades Thai telecoms
True representative Suphasorn Honchaiya presents documents outlining the company’s claims at the Crime Suppression Division yesterday. SURAPOL PROMSAKA NA SAKOLNAKORN
The case, filed with the Crime Suppression Division, underlines the weakness of Thai law and ambiguity in rules and regulations, a main deterrent to a healthy telecom regulatory environment, said industry observers.
They said the problem appears to have no solution and is not unique to the telecom sector. However, raising the issue as a criminal case could be seen as dampening the investment environment.
True Move has no plan to file a complaint against Advanced Info Service even though the mobile market leader also has a complicated shareholding structure, said Athueck Asvanont, vice-chairman of parent True Corporation.
Jon Eddy Abdullah, the chief executive of DTAC, shrugged off the move and said that should there be any change in regulations, DTAC was willing to comply.
Telenor Group of Norway, the major shareholder of DTAC, insisted that its ownership was in compliance with Thai laws and regulations. Telenor is 55 percent owned by the government of Norway.
"DTAC is a SET-listed company, the ownership structure is publicly available and registered with the Ministry of Commerce," Telenor said in a statement yesterday.
True Move has urged the Crime Suppression Division to launch a new investigation into DTAC's nationality based on a report by the Telecommunications Committee of the House of Representatives published on April 21, according to Suphasorn Honchaiya, a representative of True Move who filed the complaint.
The report indicated that DTAC was a foreign entity by law since its shareholding structure comprises only 28.65 percent Thai ownership while the remaining 71.35% is held by foreigners or nominees.
The report also said the foreign shareholding of DTAC as of May 20 had risen slightly to 71.98 percent.
Moreover, Ms Suphasorn said that Telenor had reported to the stock exchanges in Norway and Singapore that it owned approximately 66.5 percent in the Thai operating unit.
"This is clearly against Section 4 of the Foreign Business Act, which expressly limits the ceiling of foreign shareholding to 49 percent for a Thai telecom business in consideration of national security and the use of airwaves, which are considered valuable and limited national assets," she said.
However, Telenor said the report cited by True was still a draft that needed further debate and approval by Parliament and other parties involved.
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