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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        17  May 2011

Thai telecoms fight enters the courtroom

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True Corporation and the Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI) have exchanged sharp words over the controversial deal between True and its concession owner CAT Telecom, with the leaders of both sides elaborating their own positions on the issue. Somkiat Tangkitvanich, a vice-chairman of the TDRI, repeated his claim that the deal amounted to a "pseudo-concession".

Contracts under the deal cannot be separated, nor can they stand on their own, thus violating Section 5 of the Public-Private Joint Venture Act of 1992, he said.

Suphachai Chearavanont, True's president and chief executive, reiterated his view that the deal is a win-win solution and simply a "natural business agreement" under the new telecom regime, not the old-fashioned monopoly system to which the act is often applied.

He warned Dr Somkiat not to make public his views on the deal as long as he does not have an in-depth knowledge of the contract details.

Mr Suphachai pointed out that Dr Somkiat is "only an engineer who is unskilled in legal interpretations".

The True contract, hastily arranged after the company acquired the small Hutch mobile business in which CAT has been a shareholder, runs for 14 years. Signing it removed a huge uncertainty about what would happen after True's existing mobile concession with CAT expires in 2013.

The deal was heavily criticised after CAT granted four major wholesale-resale contracts to the True subsidiaries Real Move and Real Future to provide 3G wireless broadband service using high-speed packet access technology.

True is now being scrutinised by investigative committees, the Office of the Auditor-General and the TDRI for possible violations of the Spectrum Allocation Act and the Public-Private Joint Venture Act.

Meanwhile, second-ranked operator Total Access Communication (DTAC) filed a complaint on April 25 with the Central Administrative Court, arguing the agreements between True and CAT stifled competition and were unlawful and discriminatory.

DTAC also asked the court to issue an injunction requiring CAT to refrain from executing the obligations under the agreements until all relevant authorities have reviewed and approved the transaction in accordance with established procedures. The court is scheduled to hear arguments tomorrow.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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