Nation faces 'proxy crisis', says Apirat

Nation faces 'proxy crisis', says Apirat

'Mastermind' dares not attack govt directly

The country is facing a "proxy crisis" created by a mastermind who cannot confront the government directly, army chief Gen Apirat Kongsompong said on Friday.

Asked to comment on the political situation and planned rallies, Gen Apirat said, "It is a proxy crisis, not a proxy war. If it were a war, there would be destruction.

"A proxy crisis is the sort where the mastermind does not or cannot come out to fight the government. So, the mastermind creates proxies. Read about proxy war and proxy crisis to find out what they are and if they describe the current political situation in Thailand," the army chief said.

He was speaking to reporters after inspecting soldiers at the army's Command and General Staff College.

When asked to back up his remarks, Gen Apirat refused to name names, other than saying people should think for themselves.

The general also called on all sides to respect the law for the sake of peace and order. "If I break the law, I will have to accept the court decision ... We have independent organisations, courts of justice. We have to respect them.

"Some groups are planning on events with an ulterior motive. If you want to run, you should do so in a constructive way," he said.

Political observers noted that Gen Apirat's comments reflected his concern about the "Wing Lai Loong" ("Run to Oust Uncle", a reference to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha) planned by anti-government groups for Jan 12.

Last Saturday, Future Forward Party (FFP) leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit called a protest rally on the skywalk at Pathumwan intersection after the Election Commission (EC) decided to ask the Constitutional Court to disband his party for allegedly violating the organic law on political parties by accepting a 191-million-baht loan from him to finance its election campaign.

If the court agrees with the EC, the party's 15 executives -- including Mr Thanathorn, party secretary-general Piyabutr Saengkanokkul and party spokeswoman Pannika Wanich -- will be banned from politics.

However, Pheu Thai Party spokesman Anusorn Iamsa-ard immediately challenged Gen Apirat to reveal the identity of those behind this proxy crisis, saying the general only wanted "some exciting action" to boost his ratings.

Mr Anusorn also asked how Gen Apirat could juggle between his "mission to help the government cling on to power" and his routine duty to develop the army.

"Don't accuse others without taking responsibility," Mr Anusorn said, adding that professional soldiers should stay in the barracks instead of getting the armed forces involved in the political conflict.

FFP deputy leader Lt Gen Pongsakorn Rodchomphu said that it was wrong of Gen Apirat to link the anti-government running event to a political party.

Lt Gen Pongsakorn insisted FFP had nothing to do with the activity, but that it was a spontaneous movement like the Oct 14, 1973 popular uprising, which saw students take to the streets calling for democracy.

Meanwhile, Pheu Thai heavyweight Chalerm Ubumrung, who chairs the party's new panel on special affairs, said Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda will be included in the list of ministers targeted for censure.

Mr Chalerm has said the opposition will table a no-confidence motion against the government in parliament between Jan 6 and 10, with four cabinet ministers in its crosshairs. The four are Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, his deputies Wissanu Krea-ngam and Somkid Jatusripitak, and Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai.

Mr Chalerm said the government is not just six months old as it claimed, but is actually a continuation of the last coup-installed administration, making it five years old.

Meanwhile, Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwon, who is the chief strategist of the ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP), yesterday gave assurances that the coalition remains solid, saying there will be no renegade MPs in future parliament meetings, particularly during the no-confidence session.

He added that the PPPR will control all MPs in the coalition as long as he is in charge.

Previously, the government suffered a shock defeat in a bid to prevent the formation of a panel to scrutinise Section 44. The defeat was the result of six Democrat Party MPs refusing to toe the line.

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