Originally published at Siam Voices on December 29, 2010 It seems that Thailand's army commander-in-chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha is already being more outspoken in public (with a public outburst being his last outing) than his predecessor(s) in such a short time, considering he just took up the post in October.
This week, he outlined four points on his wish list for the new year. Let's go one by one, shall we?
"For the people and army personnel to enjoy the New Year" Well, duh! Nothing much to explain here.
"For the monarchy not to be offended" He's got that point covered as well after the announced his crackdown on all anti-monarchists and he has put this on the top of his priority list during his tenure.
"For peace to return quickly to the southern border provinces" If there's any superficial sign of improvement or at least what the authorities want to signal to us, then the apparent upcoming end of the state of emergency in one district in Pattani might be one - even though it will be replaced by the Internal Security Act (ISA). The same happened in Bangkok last week.
"For sustainable peace on the borders with neighbouring countries." Of course this is a reference to the ongoing dispute over Preah Vihear temple at the Thai-Cambodian border. Prayuth added that "unsettled border disputes should not be raised unnecessarily because doing so would only make people become emotional." Well, let's see if he'll stick to his words when the PAD will protest about this very issue on January 25, 2011 or if he'll let them pass.
But wait, there's more!
Asked about the army's stand on politics, Gen Prayuth said the army must not side with any parties in conflict but must maintain and adhere to the law, regardless of who is the government, to prevent casualties to the people.
The army chief said the people should no longer talk about which colour they belong to, because this would only prolong the conflict between them.
He promised not to lead the army in another coup, because it is against the law. "Nobody wants a coup and the chance of there not being another coup is 100 per cent," Gen Prayuth said.
"Gen Prayuth's New Year wishes", Bangkok Post, December 28, 2010
Firstly, if a flawed opinion poll from earlier this year is anything to go by, then the army shouldn't be influenced by politics at all anyways. Secondly, if Prayuth advises people to go color-blind, then he himself should stick to his own words as well, since he was allegedly promoting and demoting army officers for political reasons.
And finally, about the pledge not to stage coup - well, we'll have to see about that...