What do planes, trains and beer have in common? The answer is they are all great money spinners.
On planes, despite the junta having ordered that only one agency deal with the poor, confused British Serious Fraud Office, multiple agencies are still trying to appear that they are doing something about money-spinning corruption.
The Bangkok Post reports that “Rolls-Royce has refused to supply information about its bribery admission involving Thai Airways International (THAI) with the national flag carrier’s probe panel.”
Refused! Wow! Thai Airways really want to find out! Who did get “kickbacks totalling 1.28 billion baht, which were allegedly paid to help the British firm secure deals with the carrier”?
So they went to RR, not the SFO. The carrier’s president “revealed” that “a request for information linked to the graft, Rolls-Royce refused to share it with THAI’s probe panel, saying the information it gave to the SFO was confidential…”.
Just to confuse the SFO, the president said his company “had also asked the SFO for relevant information on Jan 24 and the British anti-graft authority replied it would respond to the request within 20 days…”.
He added that “the national carrier stood ready to supply all related information to state agencies tasked with probing the case.” He finally came around and said: “As for the inquiry into who received the bribes, the NACC will play a key role in investigating the matter. So results of the NACC’s probe, which is gathering information from all sides, must first be concluded…”.
Finally, he “conceded it is unlikely that THAI would be able to receive information from other parties apart from what has already been publicised.”
So what was the point of the story? And why go to RR? We assume its to confuse things. After all, commissions are lucrative and running interference may maintain that source of wealth.
Another Bangkok Post story tells readers about trains and some other forms of transport. It says that the junta’s “raft of big-ticket infrastructure projects has grown to 2.2 trillion baht in value…”. That seems to us math-challenged dopes to be $68 billion. Agents, contractors, top bureaucrats, not to say Chinese state transport and engineering firms, must be counting the money in their dreams. And this is only the big ticket items.
Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong says these projects are meant to power the economy. All other sectors, apart from tourism, seem to have tanked. The problem with this “infrastructure Keynsianism” is that the wealth created is mostly captured by the royalist elite and Sino-Thai tycoons.
So how does beer fit the pattern?
Yet another Bangkok Post account asks, in an editorial, why people are fined for producing “craft beers.” It cites Prime Minister, Dictator, General and expert on everything, Prayuth Chan-ocha and why it it so problematic to make “craft beers and microbrews to go on sale legally.” He babbled about “[c]onsumer safety, fair trade and an ability by producers to maintain standards and take responsibility if things go wrong…”.
Why the sudden worrying about these? The story gives a hint:
The news report [on the fining of a craft brewer] sparked outrage online as many people questioned whether it was time the government recognised the increasing demand from consumers for diverse kinds of beer instead of relying on a few well-established brands.
They also believe that opening up the monopolised beer market will nurture innovation, create equal opportunities for aspiring brewers and foster fairer competition which will benefit consumers in the end.
… One notable question that has come up during the craft beer debacle is whether it is necessary for the government to only give licences to beer producers on an industrial scale.
Under the finance minister’s order in 2000, only two types of licences are available for beer production. The first is for large-scale industries with a capacity of no less than one million litres a year. The second is for brew pubs, which have to produce at least 100,000 litres a year for sale onsite with no bottling.
The former goes back to the period before 1932 and the company and the scions of the Bhirombhakdi family have long supported royalist and, more recently, anti-democrat causes.
The latter has managed to establish one of the largest alcohol and land empires in the country. It, too has allegedly funded anti-democrats and is a big donor to the palace.
It has recently been in the news, getting a contract approved by the junta without competition to run a huge convention facility for another 25 years as nominal rent. And, of course, it’s been in the news over why it pays a top cop as an adviser? Perhaps the answer is in The Dictator’s comments?