Prayut: 'Friendly nations' should be fair

Prayut: 'Friendly nations' should be fair

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha says criticism from "friendly nations" of his handling of the country will have no impact on his plan to end political conflicts in Thailand.

"As for the opinions from friendly nations, I believe I have taken into account everybody's comments," he said on his weekly Returning Happiness to Thai People programme on Friday night.

"How much consideration I give to each comment is something I must deliberate myself."

Gen Prayut did not mention any countries by name in his pre-recorded speech. But the message was clear in light of the furore over comments made this week by the most senior US official to visit Thailand since the May 22 military coup.

Daniel Russel, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, dropped a bombshell on Monday with pointed comments calling for the end of martial law, while also voicing concern about curbs on freedom of expression and questioning judicial fairness.

He was referring to the impeachment of former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra by the National Legislative Assembly last week for her failure to curb corruption and losses in her government's rice-pledging programme.

Mr Russel's comments were quickly taken up by Pheu Thai Party members who spoke up in defence of the former premier, prompting the National Council for Peace and Order to order them to report to the military for a new round of "attitude adjustments".

They included Chaturon Chaisang, Surapong Tovichakchaikul and Pichai Naripthaphan. Red-shirt co-leader Nattawut Saikuar also reported to the army on Friday.

Hardline nationalists also demonstrated outside the US Embassy in Bangkok — the martial-law ban on gatherings of more than five people was not enforced — and online forums were filled with vitriolic anti-American comment, including a call for President Barack Obama to be beheaded.

Mr Russel also met with Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva during his visit to Thailand.

Mr Russel's remarks also resulted in US Charge d'Affaires Patrick Murphy — the highest-ranking diplomat at the ambassador-less embassy in Bangkok — being summoned for a lecture from Deputy Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai.

Gen Prayut did not mention the US official by name in his speech calling for fairness from other countries in assessing the situation in Thailand.

"Instead of asking specific parties about what they want and then jumping to conclusions, I ask that the Thai people nationwide be questioned about what they want," he said. "Be fair to Thais, and to Thailand. Be fair to me, as head of government."

Gen Prayut defended his decision to take power last year, saying the elected government had failed to end violence, including the use of war weapons, and political conflicts.

But he pledged not to step beyond his authority in an attempt to restore peace in the country.

"Let us try to solve our own issues so we learn and become strong," he said.


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