'Sabotage' brief causes stir

'Sabotage' brief causes stir

Opposition labels it an 'intimidation tool'

A screen capture shows the title of a security brief seen on the desk of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha during Wednesday's general debate.
A screen capture shows the title of a security brief seen on the desk of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha during Wednesday's general debate.

A report on a "network of elements sabotaging the nation" carried by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha into the parliamentary debate on Wednesday has caused a stir and raised questions.

During a live broadcast of the debate which saw Gen Prayut grilled by the opposition over his oath blunder, hawk-eyed reporters spotted a report titled Khrongkhai Khabuankan Tamlai Prathet, which means "network of elements sabotaging the nation", on the premier's desk -- sparking questions about the report's contents.

A source within the government said the document was a report prepared for a briefing by intelligence and security agencies, and "the elements" are believed to consist of political figures whose acts are deemed to offend the high institution of the monarchy.

According to the source, the security briefing was held in secret because it discussed sensitive information.

Government spokeswoman, Narumon Pinyosinwat, responding to questions from the press about the report, confirmed that it was prepared for a security agency briefing and that its contents "were not for the public's eyes".

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon said on Wednesday that the government "has information about a network" but declined to discuss the contents of the report.

Meanwhile, the opposition questioned the prime minister's motive for bringing the document to the debate.

Wan Muhammad Nor Matha, leader of the Prachachat Party, said it could be the same old trick to discredit the opposition and mislead the public to think that the opposition is trying to destroy the country.

Mr Wan Nor insisted the opposition is only doing its job of holding the government to account to strengthen the democratic system.

Wisarn Techathirawat, a Pheu Thai MP for Chiang Rai, considered the document an intimidation tool and an attempt to attack the opposition.

He said opposition MPs have been intimidated and threatened by lawsuits in the past, and warned that Gen Prayut's tactic could lead to further divisions in society.

While the identity of the so-called network's members remain unclear, army chief Gen Apirat Kongsompong had previously mentioned some groups which he believed intended to harm the country.

On April 2, Gen Apirat warned about a movement which was trying to provoke a civil war between "pro-democracy" and "pro-junta" factions.

The army chief criticised a group of extremists for trying to introduce "left-wing policies they picked up from abroad" to try and challenge the constitutional monarchy.

On Aug 9, Gen Apirat also gave an interview with Reuters, accusing new political parties of using "fake news" to incite youth against the monarchy and the military.

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