After allegations that the shopping mall is entirely controlled by Chinese investors, Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered a probe into the legality of Samanea Plaza Thailand, a new wholesale and retail trade and commodities distribution hub in Bangkok’s Bang Na district.
General Prayut has directed all relevant state authorities, including the Ministries of Trade and Interior, to review the trade center’s legality. He warned that if the center’s authorization was obtained illegally, it would have to be closed down.
Thai intermediaries who import items from China to resell in Thailand have criticized the decision to keep the trade center open. They are concerned that Chinese traders would utilize the shopping center to conduct direct commerce with Thai purchasers, filling the domestic market with Chinese products and causing prices to plummet, so affecting local retailers.
A organization representing these Thai intermediaries has asked the Ministry of Trade to look into the plaza’s legality. They contend that the government must accept responsibility for the situation since it has actively sought to bring Chinese e-commerce businesses to Thailand.
Jitakorn Wongkhatekorn, Deputy Director-General of the Department of Business Development, later clarified that the trade center was granted a permit to operate because it is owned by three Thai legal entities: Samanea Bangna 02 Co, Samanea Bangna Co, and Samanea Holdings (Thailand) Co., with Cheuk Fung Au, a Thai citizen, as a key shareholder.
Cheuk Fung Au has a Thai mother, according to Jitakorn, and the decision to allow foreign enterprises to operate in Thailand was reached after assessing possible benefits and drawbacks, with no preference given to investors from any one country.