BANGKOK – Speaking during a lunch with reporters at Government House on Wednesday, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said he believes there will be no more military coups and says he will definitely not take the prime minister’s post as an outsider, no matter what the circumstances.
Also present at the lunch with reporters at Government House were Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Surasak Karnjanarat, and PM’s secretary-general Wilas Aroonsri.
Asked if he was worried that people would become bored with him if he stayed in power for another 20 months, as seems likely, the prime minister jokingly replied: “I am already bored with myself, it’s not just the people.”
“Problems these days are complicated. I am ready to hand over my job to another person.”
Asked what if the old-face politicians return, Gen Prayut said it would be the people’s decision at the elections.
Asked whether the military would again take power in the future, he said: “No. Not again.”
“The situation has changed. The country is now surrounded by the world. Who would dare to do that? We must try not to let that happen again,” he said.
“Even if that happened, I would not get involved. I would rather go home.”
Gen Prayut told the Bangkok Post they needed not fear an outsider would move in and take the prime minister’s post. “I, for one, will definitely not take it.”
If he was asked by the people to take the job, Gen Prayut said he knows what he can do and to what extent.
Asked whether the 20 months set down under Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam’s 6-4-6-4 formula could be shortened, Gen Prayut said this would depend on all the people concerned, especially those with legal expertise.
He said he had not issued a directive that the 20-month time frame be shortened. He had only suggested that it should be shorter, if possible.
If the 20-month time frame was adhered to, there would be a general election in July 2017, Gen Prayut told the Bangkok Post.
Meanwhile, The Nation’s senior reporter Pravit Rojanaphruk was released yesterday afternoon by the military after agreeing to sign agreement not to make destructive criticism that is considered detrimental to its roadmap to democracy.
Pravit was taken out of custody at the 11th Army Infantry Regiment along with former Pheu Thai MP Karun Hosakul to the First Army Regiment headquarters where the agreement documents were prepared for them to sign for their releases.
The agreement states that they must not make any movement or offer any criticism that could hamper the work of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).
After the release, the senior journalist wrote on his Twitter saying , “Released by Thai junta already. Thanks to friends, colleagues & supporters. My ideology is intact. Will talk more later.
Pravit was last Sunday invited by the military to the First Army Region’s headquarter reportedly for attitude adjustment.
Two military officers went to Pravit’s house last Saturday morning at about 10 am but he was not at home.
On the following day however, an officer called the Nation reporter asking him to report to Colonel Suthat Narkphan, director of operations of the First Army Region on Sunday at 2 pm.
Accompanied by a lawyer, Pravit went to the First Army Region headquarter and he was escorted to a conference room in Miskawan building. Pravit was told to leave his phone number to the lawyer who was later told to leave.
The lawyer made an enquiry about when the reporter would be allowed to leave.
Following thus, the Thai Journalists Association urged the government and the NCPO to clarify the detention of a senior reporter of The Nation newspaper reportedly for attitude adjustment.
TJA vice president and spokesman Manop Thip-osot called on the First Army Region to explain the reason why and where he was detained.
The reporter, he said, was not allowed to bring with him his smartphone and, therefore, his whereabouts were unknown.
Even though the junta can invoke Section 44 of the interim charter to detain any individuals as it thinks fit, Manop said that the junta must exercise caution especially against members of the media who, in their performance of duty, should be free in making criticism of the government or the junta.
Detaining the reporter without informing him of the charges against him does not bode well for press freedom and basic rights in Thailand under the current administration, said the TJA vice president.
Thai PBS, Bangkok post