Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has hit back at a critic who questioned whether he was a “stooge of the military” because he opposes dissolving the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc).
Mr Srettha, an active user of X (Twitter) in both Thai and English, released a statement on his account (@Thavisin) on Thursday evening, just hours after a biting commentary appeared on Thai Enquirer, an English-language news website.
The author of the commentary, Arun Saronchai, expressed disappointment that the prime minister appeared unwilling to reform or rein in Isoc, an army-affiliated body that has taken on a political role that goes beyond its original remit.
”The decision appears to be less about the effective use of state resources or the protection of democratic values and more about appeasing the military establishment,” the commentary said.
Mr Srettha, in an English-language response to his 358,000 followers on X, said the commentary was “misleading” and that he wanted to set the record straight.
“Dissolving Isoc was never a part of the Pheu Thai Party’s (PTP) policy, neither before, during nor after the election,” he wrote.
“However, the PTP and the PTP-led government intend to modernise the army and integrate it into the democratic process. We acknowledge that Isoc’s historical national security mission, dating back to the Cold War era, is no longer as relevant today. Under my administration, it is my duty to ensure that Isoc’s roles align with democratic values, upholding the rights and preserving the freedom of our citizens.
“We believe in incremental changes, particularly amid two decades of political ideological conflicts that Thailand has experienced. We do not choose a path of confrontation and destruction but rather a path of harmonising ideas and working for the benefit of the people. The continuity of governance through democratic elections is the essence of a lasting and peaceful democracy.
“Lastly, I am the Prime Minister from PTP, elected by the people and endorsed by the parliament. Please do not undermine the voice of the people. If I am only a puppet, I am a puppet of the people.”
The Move Forward Party is currently attempting to place a bill to dissolve Isoc before the House of Representatives, but Mr Srettha has said he does not support it.
An online public opinion survey conducted as part of the process showed some 72% of respondents opposed eliminating the agency, but a Move Forward MP said the survey was flawed.