Prayut invokes epic myth to hammer opposition

Prayut invokes epic myth to hammer opposition

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha stands to speak during a general debate in Parliament on Thursday. (Parliament photo)
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha stands to speak during a general debate in Parliament on Thursday. (Parliament photo)

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha hit back at opposition parties on the first of a two-day general debate on Thursday, dismissing accusations that the government had abused its power and citing an epic Hindu tale about good triumphing over evil known as the Ramakien.

During the debate, which will not wrap up with a vote on Friday, Gen Prayut likened himself to Phra Ram, the main protagonist of the Thai adaptation of the Indian Ramayana epic, while describing the opposition as incarnations of Thotsakan -- the so-called king of demons.

According to the legend, Phra Ram leads an army of monkeys to wage war against Thotsakan and rescue his wife, Sida, whom the demon king has kidnapped. In the end, the protagonist triumphs while Thotsakan and his allies are slain.

"We all know how Thotsakan met his fate," Gen Prayut told parliament. "But Thailand is not like the Ramakien."

Gen Prayut said the government is working with other agencies to address numerous problems.

He also dismissed as baseless the opposition's accusations against the government, especially one that it had abused its power.

After the session, reporters asked Gen Prayut to elaborate on his Ramakien analogy, to which he replied: "Don't let me shoot arrows [at Thotsakan] too often.''

Before the session started Gen Prayut had downplayed a warning sent by ex-PM Thaksin Shinawatra, who mentioned in a ClubHouse session that Gen Prayut's premiership would be "hijacked" in a future House session.

Observers noted that after several years in politics, Gen Prayut, who is known to have a short fuse, appeared more composed.

Cholnan Srikaew, leader of the opposition Pheu Thai Party, said the debate was intended to alert the government to problems so it finds solutions, such as to combat the rising cost of living.

"This is a crisis, but the government is ignoring it," he said, adding the administration has failed to support political reform.

"It is obvious the government is trying to curtail the power of local organisations, and exploit local power for political gain."

Dr Cholnan claimed that between 20 million and 30 million baht was being spent to lure and poach MPs from the opposition camp.

During the debate, Mingkwan Sangsuwan announced his resignation as a party-list MP for the New Economics Party. He said he was not comfortable working in the political sphere under current conditions.

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