King's coronation soon, PM says
Prayut calls for unity ahead of key events
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has called on Thais to maintain unity and goodwill towards each other as His Majesty the King's coronation will take place soon.
The prime minister also said he hoped a general election expected on Feb 24 and Thailand taking up the Asean chairmanship on Jan 1 next year would proceed peacefully.
Gen Prayut was speaking as he presided over a ceremony to unveil the Lam Saphung Dam construction project in Chaiyaphum's Nong Bua Daeng district on Monday.
"His Majesty's coronation will take place soon. The King is a major pillar of the country. I know Thais are loyal to the monarchy. Please give a helping hand," Gen Prayut said.
He said the King will make the decision about when the coronation takes place.
"When the King sets the date of the coronation, we need to be sure peace and order prevail," Gen Prayut said.
"His Majesty the King has continued what King Rama IX initiated. His Majesty always tells me and the government to try our best to take care of the people, fulfil their needs swiftly, solve their problems and explain to them to make sure they understand," Gen Prayut said.
Gen Prayut previously said in June that the King's coronation was expected to be held before the general election in February.
The last coronation, of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Rama IX, was on May 5, 1950. (Photo Facebook/Information Division of Office of His Majesty's Principal Private Secretary)
Addressing Thailand's role as Asean chair next year, Gen Prayut said the country will host major meetings of the regional grouping and he wanted them to proceed without any trouble.
The last time Thailand held its rotational turn at Asean's helm was from July 2008 to December 2009.
Gen Prayut stressed the need to avoid a repeat of the fiasco in April of 2009 when protesters led by the red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship disrupted and laid siege to the Asean summit in the resort city of Pattaya and forced the hurried evacuation of regional leaders.
"I ask for two things. A peaceful election and a peaceful Asean chairmanship for Thailand. Don't let anyone disrupt it [the Asean summit] again," Gen Prayut said.
"Problems must not occur in the upcoming election. I am willing to see Thailand return to democracy. But rules must be followed," he said.
Gen Prayut addressed more than 20,000 local people as he was briefed on a water management plan for Chaiyaphum, including the Lam Saphung Dam construction project.
The project is part of the government's 20-year water management master plan (2018-2037). The project was originally a royal initiative by King Rama IX to address water shortages for local people during the dry season.
"This is the largest number of people I have met since I was prime minister," he said during the visit to Chaiyaphum.
He said the current government has made more progress with the system over the past four years than its predecessors.
He added that he expected the next government to complete the project.
The prime minister also said the government has returned land and assets worth tens of billions of baht pledged as collateral by borrowers nationwide as part of efforts to ease the plight of debtors who have fallen victim to loan sharks.
He also said that there are now more than 100,000 holders of state welfare cards, compared to the first year of registration which saw few people apply for them.
Gen Prayut also shrugged off some political parties' refusal to attend a meeting on Friday with the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).
Gen Prayut had set aside Dec 7 for talks with politicians on the long-awaited decision to fully lift the current ban on political activities, which has been in place since the military regime took power four years ago.
The meeting will be held at the Army Club on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road. It is unclear which parties will attend.
Representatives of the National Legislative Assembly, the cabinet, the Constitution Drafting Committee and the Election Commission (EC) will also attend the meeting.
The NCPO partially lifted the ban in September, allowing parties to conduct some administrative activities, including holding meetings to select party executives and recruiting members, as well as letting them give their opinions on the demarcation of constituencies.
NCPO deputy spokeswoman Sirichan Ngathong said about 280 people will be invited to the meeting, including two representatives from each political party.
They will be informed of the plans and procedures that will lead to the general election, as well as being informed about the EC's preparations in organising the poll.
"Parties will have an opportunity to give opinions and suggestions on how best to hold the election," she said.