Wassana Nanuam, one the Bangkok Post's top reporters, takes a critical look at outgoing General Anupong Paojinda's time as army chief.
Wassana Nanuam is one of the Bangkok Post’s best-known reporters. She specialises in reporting on military matters and, as you can see from the story below, she is not afraid of being critical of military leaders. You will also see that the story is an important one.
Anupong salutes military goodbye
Gen Anupong Paojinda
Gen Anupong Paojinda bids farewell to military life today without any true sense of achievement. His tenure as army commander officially ends when he hands over his duties to Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha.
His three-year term in office has seen many security crises and much political turmoil that has tested his mettle right up until his last day.
With bombings continuing to rock Bangkok, Gen Anupong will not be able to put his mind to rest. He was unable to restore order in the country. Violence continues in the lower South and the protracted political crisis across many parts of the rest of the country remains unresolved.
Yesterday, he presided over a farewell ceremony held in his honour at the 11th Infantry Regiment where soldiers from 16 battalions took part in a parade.
The outgoing chief told the assembled troops he was proud to be a part of the army, to serve the country and to protect the monarchy. He pledged his continuing commitment to these foremost tasks.
After taking up his post on Oct 1, 2007, Gen Anupong said the army’s top priorities would be to find a solution to the southern unrest and to maintain national security. After three years in the job, with the sounds of bombs still echoing in the South and in Bangkok, it is evident that he has been unsuccessful on both fronts.
Gen Anupong mobilised the army’s resources and personnel in his attempt to douse the flames of the southern conflict. Troops from the 1st, 2nd and 3rd armies were enlisted to help.
‘‘Tackling the southern unrest takes time. It cannot be solved by a military approach alone,’’ he said. ‘‘I admit the problem has not been solved, but the situation is improving. The rate of violent incidents is declining.’’
Gen Anupong also tried unsuccessfully to deal with national security issues resulting from political unrest.
He was one of the leading members of the Council for National Security that engineered the Sept 19, 2006, coup to oust prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra from power.
‘‘At that time, we thought only of stopping the abuse of authority of the then government and the then prime minister,’’ he said.
He never expected that after the coup Thais would become deeply divided by colour-coded politics.
‘‘But I managed to improve it to some extent,’’ he said.
Even though the dispersal of the red shirt protesters on May 19 resulted in many injuries and deaths, Gen
Anupong believes most Thais recognise the army’s role in keeping order.
With his ability to maintain composure in the face of difficulties, he managed to keep his job through the reign of four prime ministers: Gen Surayud Chulanont, Samak Sundaravej, Somchai Wongsawat and Abhisit Vejjajiva.
He risked losing his job by refusing to comply with the orders of Mr Samak and Mr Somchai to disperse yellow shirt demonstrators, led by the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), after they seized and occupied Government House and Suvarnabhumi airport in 2008.
Gen Anupong also made a concerted attempt to pressure Mr Somchai to resign following the crackdown on PAD demonstrators in front of parliament almost two years ago. His action was described as a coup in disguise.
The army under Gen Anupong was seen to have played an influential role in forming the Democrat Party-led coalition government and it has become a key supporter of the government.
The government is seen to have returned the favour by increasing the defence budget and approving arms purchases, even though some might have been questionable.
All eyes remain on Gen Anupong after his retirement to see whether he will be given a political position in government, in particular the defence portfolio replacing Gen Prawit Wongsuwon.
specialise – to concentrate on a particular subject or active มีความชำนาญเป็นพิเศษ
matter – a situation or subject which is being dealt with or considered เรื่อง, ภารกิจ, งาน
critical – saying that someone or something is bad or wrong ที่ชอบจับผิด
salute – to put your hand to your head as a formal way of showing respect to someone, especially a senior officer in the armed forces คำนับ,แสดงความเคารพ
bid farewell – to say goodbye ล่ำลา, กล่าวลา, ลาจาก
achievement – something very good and difficult that you have succeeded in doing การบรรลุผลสำเร็จ
tenure – the period of time during which someone has an important job ช่วงระยะเวลาที่ดำรงตำแหน่ง
commander – the head of an army or army unit ผู้บังคับบัญชา
crisis (plural crises) – a situation that has reached and extremely difficult or dangerous point ช่วงวิกฤต
turmoil – a state of uncontrolled activity การจราจล ความไม่สงบ
mettle – the determination and ability to deal with problems and difficult situations ความมีน้ำใจ,น้ำใสใจคอ,ความกล้าหาญ
restore – to cause a particular situation to exist again, especially a good one ฟื้นฟูสภาพ
order – a situation in which everything is well organized or arranged ความเป็นระเบียบเรียบร้อย
violence – physical force with the deliberate intention of causing damage to property or injury or death to people ความรุนแรง
protracted – lasting for a long time ที่ยืดเยื้อเป็นเวลานาน
unresolved – (of a dispute; disagreement, etc.) not having been dealt with successfully; not having been settled; not having reached an agreement ยังไม่มีข้อตกลง, ค้าง
preside – to be in charge of a ceremony, official meeting, or other event (ทรง) เป็นประธานในพิธี
infantry – soldiers who fight on foot, not on horses or in tanks or other vehicles ทหารราบ
regiment – a large group of soldiers กรมทหาร, กองทหาร
battalion – a large group of soldiers made up of several smaller groups known as companies กองทหาร, กองพันทหาร
assembled – gathered together
troops – soldiers, especially in large numbers กองทหาร
monarchy – a type of government in which a country is ruled by a king or queen การปกครองที่มีพระมหากษัตริย์เป็นประมุข
pledge – to make a serious promise to do something สัญญา
commitment – requirement; something that you must do ข้อผูกมัด, ข้อสัญญา, ความรับผิดชอบ
foremost – most important or most well known สำคัญที่สุด
task – something that you have to do หน้าที่; ภารกิจ
post – a job in an organisation ตำแหน่งการงาน
priority – something important that must be done first or needs more attention than anything else การให้ลำดับความสำคัญ
unrest – angry or violent behaviour by people who are protesting or fighting against something สถานการณ์ที่ไม่สงบ
maintain – to keep รักษา
echo – to repeat a quality or situation สะท้อน, หวนกลับ
evident – clearly seen; obvious เห็นได้ชัด
front – a particular aspect of a situation ด้าน
mobilise – (of soldiers, police or other groups of people) to prepare to do something เตรียมกำลังพร้อม
resources – things such as money, workers and equipment that can be used to help achieve something ทรัพยากร
personnel – the people who are employed in a company, organization or one of the armed forces บุคลากร, เจ้าหน้าที่, พนักงาน
douse – to make a fire stop burning by pouring water over it or, in this case, to end a conflict สาดน้ำหรือของเหลว, จุ่มในของ
conflict – an angry disagreement between people or groups ความขัดแย้ง
enlist – to ask for and get help or support from someone ขอความช่วยเหลือ
approach – a particular way of doing something or thinking about something วิธีการทำให้ถึงจุดหมาย
admit – to agree that something is true, especially when you are unhappy, sorry or surprised about it ยอมรับ
rate – the level or speed at which something happens or changes, or the amount or number of times it happens or changes in a particular period อัตรา
incident – something that happens, usually something bad เหตุการณ์
decline – to become less ลดลง
issue – a problem that needs to be considered ประเด็น
engineer – to arrange for something to happen, especially in a useful and skilful way วางแผน
coup (d’etat) – the seizure of power in a country by a group of people, usually members of the armed forces รัฐประหาร
oust – to force to leave a position of power ขับออกจากอำนาจ
abuse of authority – the use of power in a bad, dishonest or unlawful way การใช้อำนาจในทางที่ผิด
to some extent – somewhat ในระดับหนึ่ง
dispersal – (of a crowd of people) the process of causing to separate and leave in different directions การสลายฝูงชน
recognise – to accept that something is true or important ยอมรับ
role – the purpose or influence of someone or something in a particular situation บทบาท
composure – calmness and control ความสงบของจิตใจ
in the face of – in a situation where you have to deal with something unpleasant or difficult ตรงหน้า
reign – to officially hold power ครองอำนาจ
risk – to cause someone or something to be in a dangerous situation เสี่ยงอันตราย
comply – to obey a rule or law or do what someone asks you to do ปฏิบัติตาม (กฎหมาย, ข้อเสนอ, etc.)
People’s Alliance for Democracy – the union of several groups protesting against the past government and which staged large protests against the Thaksin government as well พันธมิตรประชาชนเพื่อประชาธิปไตย
seize – to take control of a place or situation using military force เข้ายึดพื้นที่
occupy – to be in control of an area that you have entered in a group เข้ายึดครอง
concerted – involving a lot of people or organizations working together in a determined way ที่กระทำร่วมกัน
pressure – to try to make someone do something by forcing, threatening, or persuading them in a determined way กดดัน
crackdown – strong action that someone in authority takes to stop a particular activity การใช้กำลังเข้าปราบปรามของเจ้าหน้าที่
demonstrators – people who march with other people in public to show that they support or oppose something ผู้ชุมนุมประท้วง
disguise – to change the way something appears so that people will not recognise what it is ปลอมแปลง
influential – of a person who has the power to affect a situation มีอิทธิพล
coalition government – a government formed by two or more political parties working together รัฐบาลผสม
key – most important ที่สำคัญ
return the favour – to treat in a similar way ทำคืนแบบเดียวกัน
budget – an amount of money able to be spent on something งบประมาณ
arms – weapons อาวุธ
questionable – involving doubts about whether something has been done properly ที่น่าสงสัย
portfolio – control over a ministry; all the responsibilities of a government minister ตำแหน่งรัฐมนตรี
replace – to put a new person or thing in the place of someone or something แทน
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