PM urged to clarify army link

PM urged to clarify army link

Apirat speech draws Pheu Thai probe call

Army chief Gen Apirat Kongsompong during his speech at the Royal Thai Army headquarters in Bangkok last Friday. (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)
Army chief Gen Apirat Kongsompong during his speech at the Royal Thai Army headquarters in Bangkok last Friday. (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)

The Pheu Thai Party on Sunday said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha must make it clear that the government was not behind army chief Gen Apirat Kongsompong's controversial remarks against academics and politics.

Pheu Thai Party spokesman Anusorn Iamsa-ard said he wondered if Gen Apirat was instructed to make his remarks by anyone in the government to deflect public attention away from the government's ''declining popularity''.

''Gen Prayut must set up a panel to look into the matter to assure the public that the government did not use the army as a political tool, and that the army was not trying to support the government so much so that it loses its neutrality,'' Mr Anusorn said.

In response, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Sunday urged all parties to engage in constructive politics as the war of words between the army chief and the Future Forward Party (FFP) rumbles on.

Without constructive political engagement, political reform cannot continue, the prime minister said. ''The people can now distinguish [between right and wrong]. If we work together, the country will progress considerably and sustainably. Both old and new generations of politicians must move together hand in hand, though someone tends to criticise their own country, which amounts to criticising themselves,'' the prime minister said.

During last Friday's lecture on national security at the Royal Thai Army Headquarters, Gen Apirat accused some politicians, academics and "old communist elements" of using "hybrid warfare" to undermine the country and the monarchy. Gen Apirat alleged collusion between unidentified "communist" politicians and "extreme left" academics who had studied abroad.

He claimed some communist elements still have ideas of overthrowing the monarchy to turn Thailand towards communism. Gen Apirat added they were using social media to spread "propaganda" and fake news.

Meanwhile, activist Srisuwan Janya said he will today petition the National Anti-Corruption Commission to launch an ethics probe against FFP leader Thanathorn Jungroongruangkit after the Chinese embassy last Thursday issued a statement accusing a Thai politician of contacting a group involved in the protests in Hong Kong.

Last Friday, Gen Apirat also lashed out at an unnamed politician who met Hong Kong student activist Joshua Wong.

The army chief did not name the politician but showed a picture of the Hong Kong activist and another person whose image was removed from the frame. On Mr Wong's Facebook account, that picture shows Mr Wong and Mr Thanathorn. However, Mr Thanathorn denied allegations that he is involved with the protesters.

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