Thai army chief: Politicians, academics a national threat


BANGKOK: Thailand’s army chief lashed out at opposition figures in an emotional speech in which he portrayed politicians and academics as threats to national security and even the monarchy.

The criticism by General Apirat Kongsompong (pic) yesterday came less than three months after direct military rule officially ended in Thailand, although the new civilian administration is led by the former army chief who overthrew the previous elected government.

Apirat described a collusion between unidentified “communist” politicians and “extreme left” academics who had studied abroad,a veiled jab at members of the opposition Future Forward Party, popular with social media-savvy youth.

He said they were using social media to spread “propaganda” and brainwash and mobilise the youth, likening the situation to Hong Kong protests led by young people.

He did not identify the people he was referring to in the speech, which lasted for more than an hour, but one silhouetted picture he showed was easily recognisable as Future Forward’s charismatic leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit.

“Propaganda in Thailand is severe and worrying. There is a group of communists who still have ideas to overthrow the monarchy, to turn Thailand to communism, ” Apirat told an auditorium of military officers, policemen and uniformed students.

The monarchy is legally above reproach in Thailand, and the new constitutional monarch who was officially crowned in May, King Maha Vajiralongkorn, has taken several steps since the death of his father to increase his authority, including taking direct control of two key army units.Last week, the military filed a sedition case against Thanathorn and others, accusing them of stirring unrest with talk of amending the 2017 constitution written by allies of the military.

It followed a public seminar they held in the Muslim-majority south, in which the first article of the constitution – stating that Thailand is one indivisible kingdom – was discussed.

“They are being shrewd, talking of amending the first article without stating directly what they want, knowing this will affect other articles about the monarchy.

“This article invoked the blood our ancestors had shed to keep this land. I can tell you I will never allow it, even to my dying day, ” Apirat said.The army chief portrayed “self-

serving” politicians and a “businessman born into wealth who colludes with foreigners, brainwash young people, and want to bring down the nation and the monarchy” as enemies of the state.

Meanwhile, he cast the military as loyal to the nation and the royal family.

“Don’t forget that Thailand is the only country in this region that has never been colonised, thanks to past kings, ” Apirat said. — Reuters

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 1
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3
   

Did you find this article insightful?

Yes
No

Next In Regional

Alibaba founder Jack Ma delivers video speech to China’s rural teachers in first public appearance in three months
Tencent super app WeChat celebrates a decade of influence in China’s online world, but are its best years behind it?
Thai woman sentenced to 43 years in jail for insulting monarchy
Google backs Indian courier startup Dunzo in $40 million fundraising
MCO 2.0 to cost Malaysia RM600m daily, Zafrul says
Japan's Okinawa declares coronavirus emergency as cases spike
TikTok owner ByteDance launches Douyin Pay, its mobile payment service for China
Covid-19: Cases up by 3,631, bringing total to 165,371 (updated daily)
Covid-19: 3,631 new cases, 14 fatalities bring death toll to 619
Japan bets on robots to increase Covid-19 testing with Olympics near

Stories You'll Enjoy