BANGKOK – Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Friday vehemently denied opposition claims that he planned the 2014 coup three years in advance.
Saying he had only prepared soldiers to ensure people’s safety during anti-government protests at the time.
On the second day of the parliamentary debate on the government’s policies, MPs on the opposition benches criticized the previous coup-installed government over its spending on arms procurement.
The opposition also accused the previous government led by Gen Prayut of failing to tackle corruption or improve the economy, the Bangkok Post reports.
During the session, Pheu Thai MP for Chiang Rai Visarn Techateerawat asked Gen Prayut about his preparations for the coup.
“I just learned that you prepared three years in advance for the coup. Can you explain the truth?
“Furthermore, the government’s policy on security runs counter to the state of the economy. Over the past five years, a budget of about 890 billion baht has been spent [on security matters].
Of that amount, the army spent the most at 450 billion baht,” Mr Visarn said.
These were the Preparations
Responding to the issue regarding the coup, Gen Prayut strongly denied the claim, saying: “During my three-year stint as army chief, I witnessed severe conflict. I don’t know who [was behind the conflict]. I had to prepare and train soldiers to provide protection for the people. These were the preparations.”
“Six months before I retired, what happened in the country?” Gen Prayut continued.
He was referring to anti-government demonstrations led by the now-defunct People’s Democratic Reform Committee to oust the Pheu Thai Party-led administration in late 2013. Which culminated in the 2014 military coup that catapulted him into power.
The prime minister hit back at the opposition, saying: “Don’t smile. Some people are smiling here. You don’t feel anything. How many deaths and injuries? So, I had to make a decision on that day. I did not plan anything beforehand.”
If the military had not come out, would you have taken any responsibility? Answer me. So, just don’t make faces,” Gen Prayut said while pointing his finger at the opposition MPs.
Gen Prayut went on to explain the government’s policies on the economy, saying that it has come up with measures for economic reforms to respond to the pace of change.
The opposition then urged the government to adjust its strategy to attract more foreign investment, to which Gen Prayut replied that foreign investors like Thailand, but they do not like protests.
The prime minister stressed that political stability and peace are the most important contributory factors for investment and tourism.
Military Arms Procurement’s
Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon also spelt out the budget allocations for military arms procurement, saying that the Defence Ministry has a clear plan to buy weapons for the Royal Thai Armed Forces — the army, the navy and the air force.
“The existing weapons are more than 20-30 years old, and replacements are needed,” he said.
“There are some changes to the budget spending and the armed forces will propose them to the Defence Ministry for consideration again,” added Gen Prawit, who formerly served as the defence minister in the previous government.
Senator Kamnoon Sidhisamarn told the government that police reform is an urgent priority as stipulated by the constitution and the government must step up efforts to push for this as well as issue legislation relating to the police reshuffle.
Gen Prayut said that he oversees the Royal Thai Police, and will expedite reform at the suggestion of parliamentarians.
However, the reform needs cooperation from all involved in order to ensure fairness to all police personnel, the prime minister said.
Source: Bangkok Post