Green Politics petitions anti-corruption agency to probe 3G auction

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BANGKOK, Oct 22 — Political activist Suriyasai Katasila on Monday asked the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) to investigate the 11 members of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), accusing them of mishandling the third generation (3G) spectrum licence auction.

Mr Suriyasai, a coordinator of Green Politics, submitted the petition to NACC to probe whether NACC members, in their handling of the auction for 3G mobile phone service licences, might have violated Price Collusion Act of 1999 and can be indicted for dereliction of duty under the Criminal Code Section 157.

He said the auction regulations drafted by NBTC for 3G auction may lead to unfair bidding or avoidance of fair bidding. He said that although the NACC has no authority to stop the auction, it could give recommendations to NBTC for transparency operation as the damage from 3G auction could prolong for 15 years of licence period.

The broadcasting and telecom regulator has come under pressure after three operators- Advanced Info Service (AIS), DTAC and TrueMove- were awarded licences to provide 3G services at prices many academics and activists deemed as too low.

The NBTC, on October 16, auctioned off nine of the 15-year licences for Bt41.6 billion, which was only Bt1.125 billion or 2.78% above the reserve price.

The NBTC set the reserve price at 2.1-gigahertz spectrum at Bt4.5 billion.

Mr Suriyasai said that the Administrative Court rejected his petition seeking the auction’s suspension, reasoning that he was not a person who was directly affected by the auction, nor involved as a stakeholder in the auction.

He said he would later submit a petition to the Office of the Ombudsman as recommended by the Court.