A trip by former army chief Gen Apirat Kongsompong and the chief of defence forces Gen Chalermpol Srisawat to a Malaysian island on May 5-7 had nothing to do with national politics, a source said on Tuesday.
The visit took place a week before the May 14 general election but did not have any political implications, and it had nothing to do with a so-called secret deal to form a coalition government, said the source, asking not to be identified.
The pair did not meet former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, as suggested by some reports circulating in social media.
Thaksin, who fled the country in 2008 before being convicted of abuse of authority, has in recent weeks been claiming he is ready to return to Thailand and face the legal consequences. Rumours have been flying that the formation of a government that will accommodate his wishes is central to the plan.
“There’s an attempt to link the visit to politics. There are rumours about Gen Apirat, but he chooses to stay silent,” the source said.
“That he keeps quiet doesn’t mean there are grounds to those rumours. He’s not in the position to get involved in politics, and it’s best to keep him out of it.”
Gen Apirat stepped down as commander of the Army in September 2020. He currently serves as the Vice-Chamberlain of the Royal Household Bureau and the deputy director of the Crown Property Bureau.
The source said the facts are that Gen Apirat and Gen Chalermpol were part of a delegation to Langkawi to meet key insurgent members to support peace initiatives in the southernmost provinces.
The source said the meeting sought to open an extra communication channel for concerned parties, adding the dialogue to restore peace in the deep South was awaiting direction from a new government.
According to the source, Gen Apirat is keenly interested in the southern unrest issue and is quietly monitoring its progress.
His connections could be beneficial in promoting efforts to solve the insurgency in the region, the source said, adding that Gen Chalermpol also keeps himself abreast of the southern situation.