Our Bureau
10:59 AM, July 6, 2015
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Thai experts have questioned the utility of buying Chinese submarines on grounds that the country’s Navy is better off with surface ships and the funds could be utilized for a national healthcare project.

A procurement committee of the Thai Navy last week voted to buy three Chinese S-20 submarines for 36 billion Bhat (US$1.1 billion) against competition from South Korea, Germany, Sweden and Russia.

Surachart Bamrungsuk, security affairs analyst from Chulalongkorn University said, "it is true that we have an unclear maritime boundary with neighbouring countries, but submarines might not be the best solution for that matter," he was quoted as saying in several local media outlets.

Another expert, Pipob Udomittipong noted, “the deepest part of the Thai Gulf is just 80 metres, which makes it impossible for submarines to completely hide themselves from detection. We also don't have any disputes in the west coast of the Andaman Sea. So, what do we need submarines for”?

Several articles in the Thai media said the money could be better spent on the Universal Coverage Healthcare Scheme (UC). However Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha defended the proposed purchase as necessary for the country’s security adding that the procurement will take several years and an adequate budget will be earmarked for the project. 

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