Go ask Santa for gifts, Prayut says
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha defended his regime's end-of year social welfare scheme as a "well thought out" policy that will help the people, before telling those who were expecting "traditional" presents to go and ask Santa Claus instead.
Gen Prayut made the remark during a visit to Samut Prakan's Phra Pradaeng district, where he assured local communities that his state welfare card scheme was not intended to woo people's support.
"Please do not try to discredit the scheme and twist the facts, the welfare cards were not issued to court the favour of any political party," he said.
"And for those who want want presents, you better ask Santa Claus, as today is Christmas," he joked.
The premier went on to say that Thailand has become a more peaceful country during his tenure.
"In the past four years, our society has been at peace," he said.
"This is because our citizens are helping one another, not because of guns and power, because with stability comes peace."
The prime minister also dismissed claims that he is abusing his position.
"People perceive me as omnipotent, but I have never misused my powers against anyone," he said.
"For me, everyone is brother and sister. I know some people hate me, but I will not reproach them. You cannot force people to love you."
Gen Prayut also defended his 20-year national strategy, which he says will help the country in the long run. "Even durian orchard owners need to plan ahead so they have an advantage over their competitors," he said.
The prime minister has been increasing the frequency of his visits to local communities after the newly-formed Palang Pracharath Party threw its support behind him as leader post-election. The poll is expected on Feb 24 next year.
Recently, Gen Prayut visited Bung Kan province to attend a rubber trade fair, where he warned communities to be cautious of fake news.
"I ask you to not to believe everything you read on social media," he said.
"Critics say our policies only benefit the elite, whereas on the contrary, the government treats everyone equally."