Prayut meets with overseas Thais, shrugs off political concerns
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha disregarded calls for him to step down and said he is doing what's best for the country, in comments made on Thursday to overseas Thais during his visit to the United States.
Corruption in Thailand must be dealt with for the sake of the country's people, Gen Prayut told representatives of the Thai community in the US at the meeting held at the George Washington Room of the St Regis Hotel in the American capital.
"I've set my goal that I will only do it for Thai people and I don't want anything else," said Gen Prayut.
"I served the country until my retirement with pride, before taking part in political affairs."
Gen Prayut met the Thai expats on the same day he attended the second day of the US-Asean special summit that was hosted by US President Joe Biden.
He urged Thai people to beware of what information they consume via digital means and wished overseas Thais would apply their overseas knowledge to help develop the country of their birth.
"Despite people having different ideas, we must be aware of how reliable the information is that we receive," he said.
"I will not fear anything as long as I stand against corruption," he said.
Gen Prayut said that Thailand has been praised by many countries for its handling of the Covid-19 situation.
With the cooperation of the Thai people in complying with Covid-19 prevention measures and getting vaccinated, infection rates have gradually declined since the onset of the pandemic, he said. The effort has resulted in easing various measures, such as the lifting of the Test & Go entry scheme.
The premier went on to inform meeting attendees about developments in government which carried out 139 amendments to laws and the boosting of the country's soft power initiatives.
He also spoke of current schemes including developments in infrastructure, roads, railways and the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC).
The PM also emphasised the government's commitment to taking care of overseas Thais and expressed appreciation towards the strength and unity of the Thai community in the US, and for giving him moral support to move the country forward.
According to the US census for 2020, there are 316,000 Thai residents in the US. They make up the largest Thai population outside Thailand with many of them living in California.
There are also approximately 21,400 Thais residing in Washington, DC and the nearby states of Maryland and Virginia.
Government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said Gen Prayut was promoting US-Asean cooperation at the special summit in the interests of all Thai people.
During the visit, the PM will also meet US businessmen to enhance investment opportunities in Thailand, Mr Thanakorn said.
Gen Prayut's time in the United States is also a good opportunity to communicate with the US public and private sector about Thailand's full reopening, its readiness for a post-Covid economic recovery and environmental issues, he added.