Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered an investigation into the disappearance of the Siamese Revolution memorial plaque from the Royal Plaza but warned that a minor issue should not escalate into a conflict.
The prime minister said on Tuesday the military and police would look into the missing plaque but added he did not want any group to use the matter to create conflicts while the country was returning to democracy through a general election.
Democracy depends on people, not a plaque, he said, adding that there was no point to demand the return of it.
People's contributions to national progress could restore democracy quickly and the government would have to take action against any demonstration that would otherwise undermine national security, the prime minister said.
"I have tried to make everyone happy in the remaining time. History can be discussed. If there is an argument on the issue, I would rather not speak," Gen Prayut said.
Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon said the plaque issue was not so important as the economy.
He said he really had no idea where the memorial plaque was because the Royal Plaza was not an area under the supervision of the Defence Ministry.
Regarding the arrest of an activist who complained about the missing plaque, Gen Prawit said he was creating confusion at a time when the nation needed unity.
Deputy national police chief Srivara Ransibrahmanakul said police could not handle the missing plaque case because the plaque did not belong to anyone.
"It's theft only when the missing property has the owner," Pol Gen Srivara said.
He had asked several agencies, including the Fine Arts Department and the Dusit district office, if they owned the plaque and none said they did, he said.
The original plaque, made of brass, was embedded in the Royal Plaza square near the King Rama V statue in Dusit district, marking the spot where a group of people called Khana Ratsadon announced the promulgation of Thailand's first constitution on June 24, 1932, changing the rule of the country from absolute monarchy to constitutional monarchy.
The inscription on the old plaque reads: "Here at dawn on June 24, 1932, Khana Ratsadon brings into being the constitution for the sake of the country's prosperity".
The original plaque has now been replaced by a new one reading: "May Siam be blessed with prosperity forever. May the people be happy and cheerful and become the strength of the country. The respect for Phra Ratanattraya (The Three Jewels - Buddha, dhamma, Sangha), the state, one's family, and faithfulness towards one's King will all contribute to the prosperity of one's state."