PM cites 'security' as reason for staying on in army residence
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha responded to questions about his military-owned residence for the first time yesterday following an announcement by army chief Gen Apirat Kongsompong that retired officers would have to vacate their military homes to make way for their successors.
"In my case, I am the prime minister and there are security concerns and needs for security arrangements," he told reporters at Government House when asked to comment on Gen Apirat's announcement.
However, Gen Prayut said he had made preparations to move out of military housing once he is no longer premier.
Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda admitted yesterday that he remains in military housing but is ready to comply with army regulations.
Gen Pornpipat Benyasri, Chief of Defence Forces, said yesterday the new rule not only applied to retired high-ranking officers but also non-commissioned officers and state employees who had been allowed to remain living in military housing.
He refused to comment on the case of Lt Gen Pongsakorn Rodchomphu who has remained in a house owned by the Armed Forces Security Centre in Bang Khen district since his retirement in 2016, saying only that the retired officer was moving out.
Lt Gen Pongsakorn, a Future Forward Party MP, announced his resignation as a party executive in the wake of the controversy. He also said he would move out of the residence by the end of March.
Thawil Pliensri, former secretary-general of the National Security Council, posted on his Facebook that Lt Gen Pongsakorn was not a military officer, but a civilian state official, when he retired in 2016.
According to Mr Thawil, Lt Gen Pongsakorn was transferred to the NSC in 2012 under the Yingluck government and once his transfer was completed, he was no longer in military service.
Meanwhile, Gen Apirat said yesterday he has signed an order re-assigning a number of colonels who faced complaints from their subordinates including those attached to the Second Army Region in Nakhon Ratchasima following the Feb 8 mass shooting.
Asked if Lt Gen Thanya Kiatsarn, commander of the Second Army, would also be transferred, the army chief said the transfers were being made on a case-by-case basis.
Gen Apirat said a call centre would also be set up to receive complaints from soldiers in the lower ranks and would be managed by a private entity to maintain confidentiality.
The complaint channel was prompted by the shooting spree which was allegedly motivated by unfairness, he added.