Army chief wants ears to the ground
Army chief Gen Apirat Kongsompong, in his capacity as secretary-general of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), instructed all state agencies Monday to be on the lookout for false stories or information concerning them.
In the event that information is incorrect or intentionally distorted to mislead the public, government offices are required to promptly publish a correction, according to Gen Apirat.
This command was issued at Monday's meeting of the NCPO's secretariat and was relayed to the media after the meeting by deputy NCPO spokeswoman, Col Sirichan Ngathong.
State agencies were told to monitor online media, electioneering events and media interviews in particular as the March 17 advance vote and the March 24 election draw near, said Col Sirichan.
The former national police chief Seripisuth (formerly Seri) Temiyavej produced a photo of a soldier he said was stalking him on the campaign trail.
He issued a statement to the media saying it is not the job of soldiers to follow politicians or other citizens.
"This has nothing to do with national defence," he said.
The photo and video clips given to the media by Pol Gen Seripisuth's Seriruamthai Party showed an unarmed soldier in the street, apparently while the party leaders was walking and chatting with residents as part of his campaign.
The party members said that when they confronted the soldier, he told them he was ensuring everything was in order for Pol Gen Seripisuth.
"It's not their responsibility," Pol Gen Seripisuth said. Military "commanders should be acting to protect the country, not concerning themselves with the people."
In related news, the Royal Thai Police's forward command in the northeastern province of Khon Kaen said it was working closely together with the provincial office of the Election Commission (EC) to ensure security in all 2,637 polling stations in the province during the run-up to, and casting of ballots in, the election.
"As a matter of fact, the local police and the local EC office are jointly conducting a surveillance programme to watch out for any violations of the election laws," said Pol Maj Gen Phromnatthakhet Hamkhamphai, the provincial police chief.
"We are also keeping an eye on certain groups who may be plotting to stir up unrest during the election period.
"The hope is that, with sufficient intelligence, arrests can be carried out before their plans can be put into action," he said.
So far, however, there had not been any major threats to public security other than some cases of campaign poster vandalism, he added.