PM orders investigation into Samanea Plaza

PM orders investigation into Samanea Plaza

Trade centre claimed to be Chinese-owned

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered an investigation into the legality of Samanea Plaza Thailand, a new wholesale and retail trade and goods distribution centre in Bangkok’s Bang Na district, after reports claimed that it is fully owned by Chinese investors.

Gen Prayut said he had instructed all state agencies concerned, including the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Interior, to run a check into the legality of the trade centre.

“If the centre’s permit was unlawfully issued, it will have to be shut down,” said Gen Prayut.

He was responding to growing criticism over the decision to allow the trade centre to continue operating amid allegations that it was unlawfully run on behalf of Chinese investors.

The criticism came mainly from Thai middlemen who import goods from China to be re-sold in Thailand, who are concerned the shopping centre will be used by Chinese traders to trade directly with Thai buyers.

They also voiced concerns about the possibility of Chinese goods flooding the domestic market, causing prices to collapse and hurting local traders.

A group representing these Thai middlemen then petitioned the Ministry of Commerce to look into the legality of the new trade centre, saying the government will have to take responsibility for this matter because it is the government that has been actively trying to attract Chinese e-commerce operators into Thailand.

Jitakorn Wongkhatekorn, deputy director-general of the Business Development Department, on Tuesday, defended the legality of Samanea Plaza, saying the department decided to grant a permit for the trade centre to operate because it is owned by three Thai legal entities.

The three are Samanea Bangna 02 Co, Samanea Bangna Co, and Samanea Holdings (Thailand) Co, whose key shareholder and board member is Cheuk Fung Au, a Thai citizen, said Mr Jitakorn.

Cheuk Fung Au has Thai citizenship because his mother is a Thai national, said Mr Jitakorn.

“Normally, when deciding which foreign businesses should be allowed to operate in Thailand, we weigh up potential advantages and disadvantages,” he said.

“And we have no bias against or preference for investors from any particular nations,” he said.