11 Senators petition ombudsman on 3G auction

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BANGKOK, Oct 30 – Eleven senators have petitioned Thailand’s Administrative Court by means of the Office of the Ombudsman Monday seeking a court ruling on whether the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) telecom committee is authorised to endorse the recent 3G auction result.

Senator Paiboon Nititawan submitted the petition from the upper house of parliament to Chief Ombudsman Phanit Nitithanprapas, arguing that the telecoms committee has no authority to endorse or issue a licence, therefore their act could be deemed as violating the charter. The senator pointed out that the NBTC is empowered by the constitution to do so.

The chief ombudsman said the petition would be thoroughly and urgently vetted before deciding whether to forward it for the court’s consideration.

Meanwhile, top executives of the three major mobile operators—Advanced Info Service (AIS), Total Access Communication (DTAC) and TrueMove—issued assurances to the public in a joint news conference that the bidding procedures were conducted in a transparent manner.

The three companies said that the alleged collusion was out of the question as they are listed companies in the stock market, and if that did occur, the corporate executives and the bidding panel could face five-year prison terms.

AIS Chief Executive Officer Wichian Mektrakarn representing the country’s largest mobile phone operator urged all parties concerned not to abort the auction, saying Thailand’s 3G system now lags far behind neighbours in the region and the country stands to lose the opportunity to develop its infrastructure.