Gen Prayuth takes command

Bangkok Post military affairs reporter Wassana Nanuam turns her attention from the outgoing to the incoming army chief.

Army commander-in-chief Anupong Paojinda, left, hands over authority to his successor, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, at a ceremony yesterday at the army headquarters in Bangkok. CHANAT KATANYU


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Olive branch for red shirts

New army chief plans to meet relatives of killed protesters
 
Wassana Nanaum

Newly appointed army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha is planning trips to the North and the Northeast to visit relatives of red shirt protesters who were killed in the April-May rallies.

Well known for his opposition to the red shirts, Gen Prayuth's surprise plan forms part of his policy to patch up differences with United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship supporters.

The visits are intended as a gesture to reach out to members of the red shirt movement and to project a new image for Gen Prayuth, who has been viewed as taking a hard-line stance against the group, sources close to him said.

The sources said Gen Prayuth had yet to set the timing of his visits and the nature of his meetings with the relatives of those killed.

Among the 91 people killed, five were demonstrators from the North and 20 from the Northeast.

The sources said Gen Prayuth had assigned the newly appointed 2nd and 3rd Army commanders –  Lt Gen Tawatchai Samutsakhon and Lt Gen Wanthip Wongwai – to coordinate his visit.

The army had already sent staff to meet with local red shirts and more senior officers, especially Gen Prayuth, would pay visits to the relatives of those killed to extend condolences and talk to them.

Officially taking the top job as the 37th commander-in-chief of the Royal Thai Army today, Gen Prayuth vowed at a ceremony yesterday that, in taking over from Anupong Paojinda, he would perform his duty to the best of his ability.

"I will develop the army so that it can carry out its mission as the key protector of the nation's sovereignty and the crown."

He takes office amid a spate of bombings, with the emergency decree still in place in Bangkok and a few other provinces. The tense situation is likely to continue during his term.

The army, which laid low for years after the disgrace of Black May in 1992, re-entered the political arena when it staged the coup on Sept 19, 2006, that toppled the Thaksin Shinawatra government.

Gen Prayuth was then a deputy commander of the 1st Army. He led his troops in supporting the putsch alongside Gen Anupong.

He has stood side by side with Gen Anupong from the beginning of their military careers, during negotiations inside a military camp that led to the formation of the Democrat-led coalition government, the crackdown on red shirt protesters in April last year and the operation to reclaim Ratchaprasong in April and May this year.

It seems inevitable that Gen Prayuth will have to keep at least one foot in politics to prevent former prime minister Thaksin from returning to power. That means the army must team up with the ruling Democrat Party or any other parties that can help its political battles.

Gen Prayuth is known for his combative approach, for being decisive and for his fierce opposition to the Thaksin regime and the red shirt movement.

Gen Prayuth will reach his retirement age in 2014. His remaining time in military service is long enough to protect the throne during these politically tumultuous times.

Army insiders believe that with Gen Prayuth as chief, anything – even a coup –  is possible if the army feels it may lose control over politics and be at a disadvantage against its enemies.

Gen Prayuth has solid back-up – his former classmates from Class 12 of the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School control key army units. They are also considered hawkish.

The presence of a bloc of combat-oriented officers in force-controlling positions sends a strong message that the army is now ready to cope with all kinds of political situations. That means national reconciliation may be of a lower priority.

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commander-in-chief – someone in charge of the whole of the armed forces of a country ผู้บัญชาการทหารสูงสุด
authority – power อำนาจ
successor – a person or thing that comes after someone or something and takes their/its place  ผู้สืบทอด, ดำรงตำแหน่งต่อ
olive branch – something that someone does in order to show that they want to stop arguing. The olive branch is often used as a sign meaning peace ท่าทางแสดงการผูกไมตรี
relative – a member of your family ญาติพี่น้อง
appoint – to choose someone officially for a job or responsibility แต่งตั้ง,ตั้งให้เป็น
rally – a large public gathering of people to support someone or to protest against something การชุมนุม
opposition – strong disagreement with a plan, policy, type of behaviour, etc.  การคัดค้าน
policy – a set of plans or action agreed on by a government, political party, business, or other group นโยบาย
patch up – to reach an understanding with someone again after a disagreement กลับมาเป็นมิตรกัน
United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) – the group originally formed to demonstrate against the 2006 coup and which supported the Somchai Wongsawat government against the PAD and which is now leading the fight against the current government. They are known for wearing red shirts แนวร่วมประชาธิปไตยต่อต้านเผด็จการแห่งชาต
gesture – something that you do to communicate your intentions ท่าทาง
movement – a group of people who share the same aim and work together to achieve it การเคลื่อนไหวเพื่อวัตถุประสงค์ทางการเมือง
image – an opinion that people have about someone or something ภาพลักษณ์
hard-line – of people who have extreme ideas and who are not likely to change them ยึดมั่นในหลักการ
stance – an attitude or view about an issue that you state clearly; position จุดยืน
source – someone who gives information แหล่งข่าว
nature – the basic quality of feature of something ลักษณะที่แท้จริงของสิ่งต่างๆ, ธรรมชาติ
demonstrators – people who march with other people in public to show that they support or oppose something ผู้ชุมนุมประท้วง
coordinate – to organise the different parts of a job or plan so that the people involved work together effectively ประสานงานกัน
senior – with a high rank or position อาวุโส
extend condolences – to show sympathy and sadness for the family or close friends of a person who has recently died, or to express this, especially in written form  แสดงความเสียใจต่อผู้อื่น
vow – to make a formal and serious promise to do something สาบาน, ปฏิญาณ
mission – an important piece of work that a person or a group of people has been given to do ภาระกิจ หน้าที่
sovereignty – the right of a country to rule itself อำนาจอธิปไตย อำนาจเด็จขาดเหนือพื้นที่
the crown – the royal institution (higher institution); the throne; the monarchy ระบอบประชาธิปไตยอันมีพระมหากษัตริย์เป็นประมุข
amid – at the same time as ท่ามกลาง
spate – a large number of things of the same type, usually bad things, that suddenly happen in a very short period of time  ปริมาณมากมาย,จำนวนมากมาย
emergency decree – a situation where the government takes on special powers in a dangerous situation and the rights of the people are often limited in some way ประกาศภาวะฉุกเฉิน  source
tense – making you feel nervous or worried ทำให้เครียด
lay low – to avoid creating attention or getting involved in something
disgrace – the loss of other people’s respect because of something bad that you have done; something that is extremely bad or shocking น่าสยดสยอง, ความเสื่อมเสีย, ความอัปยศ, การขายหน้า
stage a coup – to forcefully seize power ใช้กำลังยึดอำนาจและเปลี่ยนแปลงรัฐบาล
topple – to force out of power; to cause to fall โค่นอำนาจ
troops – soldiers, especially in large numbers กองทหาร
putsch – an attempt to get rid of a government by using force, made by military leaders or politicians  รัฐประหาร
career – a job or series of related jobs that you do, especially a profession that you spend a lot of your working life in  อาชีพ
negotiations – formal discussion in which people or groups try to reach an agreement การเจรจาต่อรอง
formation – the process during which something develops or is created การสร้าง
coalition government – a government formed by two or more political parties working together รัฐบาลผสม
crackdown – strong action that someone in authority takes to stop a particular activity การใช้กำลังเข้าปราบปรามของเจ้าหน้าที่
operation – a planned activity involving a lot of people, especially soldiers or police officers การปฏิบัติการ
reclaim – to take back something เรียกกลับคืน, เอากลับ
inevitable – certain to happen ที่เลี่ยงไม่ได้
ruling – holding power ซึ่งปกครอง, ซึ่งมีอำนาจ
combative – ready to fight, argue with, or oppose someone  พร้อมสู้กลับ
decisive – strong; firm ซึ่งเด็ดเดี่ยว
regime – a government that controls a country, especially in a strict or unfair way รัฐบาลที่ขึ้นมาปกครองโดยการยึดอำนาจ
retirement – the time when you stop working, especially because of old age เกษียณอายุ
tumultuous – involving a lot of noise, excitement, activity, or violence วุ่นวาย,สับสนอลหม่าน,อึกทึกครึกโครม
disadvantage – something that makes someone or something less effective, successful or attractive ข้อเสียเปรียบ ข้อด้อย
solid – strong and trustworthy ซึ่งไว้ใจได้
back-up – support การสนับสนุน
key – most important  ที่สำคัญ
hawkish – preferring to deal with political problems by using military force instead of more peaceful methods  ซึ่งชอบที่จะใช้นโยบายทางการทหารเข้าแก้ปัญหาระหว่างประเทศมากกว่านโยบายทางการทูต
bloc – a group of people, countries, etc. who work closely together กลุ่ม
combat – fighting during a war or time of unrest การต่อสู้
oriented – mainly concerned with or directed towards
cope – to deal successfully with a difficult situation  รับมือกับ
reconciliation – a new and friendly relationship with someone who you argued with or fought with การทำให้ปรองดองกันอีก,  การสมานฉันท์
priority – something important that must be done first or needs more attention than anything else  การให้ลำดับความสำคัญ

About the author

columnist
Writer: Terry Fredrickson
Position: Online Editor of Learning & Education