Prawit death threat 'came from abroad'
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said yesterday an assassination plot targeting Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon could originate from lese majeste suspects who are living abroad.
The alleged death threat was revealed by Gen Prawit with army chief Chalermchai Sittisat saying it could be real.
Gen Prayut said the assassination plot against the deputy prime minister appeared on social media.
He said relevant authorities were investigating where the material originated.
Deputy Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda, however, declined to comment on the matter, saying he had not met Gen Prawit and did not have details.
However, he expressed concerns about the use of violence since street protests erupted years ago and called on all groups to refrain from violence and respect the law.
Pol Col Kritsana Pattanacharoen, deputy spokesman of the Royal Thai Police, yesterday denied reports that authorities had detained an individual who allegedly threatened to assassinate Gen Prawit.
He said police and the military have been cooperating closely on the matter, assuring that security protocols are in place for government figures.
Pol Col Kritsana also noted that it depends on Gen Prawit whether or not he would require extra protection.
Panitan Wattanayagorn, adviser to Gen Prawit, said yesterday death threats against government figures are common and authorities concerned will determine if they are real.
"It is not unusual and security agencies will respond to it," he said.
Mr Panitan said security was "as tight as ever".
Mr Panitan said government figures are not under pressure and Gen Prawit's remark is intended to communicate to the public that his job runs into problems sometimes.
He said he doubted that the death threat was related to the government's campaign to foster national unity, but noted that an assessment has yet to be made to determine if there were connections.
He said assassination plots against government figures in Thailand are rare but conflicts over the past years called for a revamp of security to better deal with threats.
Pheu Thai Party member Sunisa Lertpakawat yesterday said the government figures were not the only ones facing threats of violence on social media.
She said several members and supporters of the party were intimidated and threatened since the military took over and many of them remained under close watch by the military.
She claimed that she received a text message from a "well-wisher" on the social media warning her about being kidnapped for criticising the government.
Almost simultaneously the National Anti-Corruption Commission summoned her relatives to give statements over her assets, she said.
"Gen Prawit and Gen Prayut are fortunate because they are under heavy protection," she said.
"The coup critics and opponents aren't sure if they will get protection."