Soldiers rally against ASTV

About 50 soldiers protested at ASTV-Manager on Friday over its attack on army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha, underlining a widening conflict between the army and the newspaper.

The soldiers from the 1st Army Region went to the media group's offices on Phra Arthit Road to vent their anger over an article that had attacked Gen Prayuth for failing to protect national interests in the land dispute with Cambodia.

ASTV-Manager was founded by Sondhi Limthongkul, one of the core leaders of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD).

The yellow-shirted PAD has become increasingly strident in its appeal to "patriots" who feel the government is prepared to concede defeat in the decades-old dispute with Cambodia over the Preah Vihear Temple.


"We didn't think they would write the article that way. It disappointed all of us. It's not appropriate," said Sgt Maj 1st Class Anuchit Silpawatee, one of the protesters.

"If ASTV-Manager continues to attack [the army chief], we will make more moves."

The protest came one day after Gen Prayuth blasted the media before leaving for Bangkok to tour the Thai-Cambodian border. The army commander called the media "lousy".

Gen Daopong Rattanasuwan, the deputy army chief, said the army was checking the unit whose members had come out to protest. He called for patience from all soldiers.

Army spokesman Col Sansern Kaewkamnerd urged all commanders to order soldiers to stay in their barracks and not get drawn into political squabbles.

Maj Gen Apirat Kongsompong, commander of the 11th Infantry Regiment, also urged the media to stop attacking his commander. He defended the angry comments Gen Prayuth made on Thursday, saying the army chief ran out of patience.

"If [the PAD] were the government, I would have to listen to it. But since it is not, I have no idea what to do with it," Gen Prayuth said during a visit to the border area.

"I am not sending any signals. I don't care whether I will be attacked. I'm used to that. What I am doing is to protect the army."

ASTV-Manager issued a statement to counter Gen Prayuth under the headline "Manager or Gen Prayuth: Who is lousy?"

The statement posted on its website, www.manager.co.th, said Gen Prayuth had failed to protect national interests and solve problems. "If the army chief believes that he knows the problems better than anyone else, why can he not solve them?" it asked.

The problems included failure to put an end to violence in the far South and to protect villagers at the border being attacked by Cambodian soldiers, according to the statement.

About the author

Writer: Wassana Nanuam and Saritdet Maruakatat