Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Saturday called on Thais to not use the issue of the Asean chairmanship to cause further rifts in the country, according to Government Spokesman Lt-General Sansern Kaewkamnerd.
Sansern quoted Prayut as saying that the Asean chairmanship is a matter for the entire country and all Thais, and does not belong to a specific person.
Prayut’s comments came after the English-language newspaper, The Jakarta Post, posted a commentary calling on Indonesia to oppose Thailand taking over the temporary leadership of the Asean bloc unless an election had first been held in the Kingdom.
Sansern said it remains unknown who would win the next election and become the prime minister, and so also become the ex-officio chairman of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations next year.
It will be Thailand’s turn next year to chair the 10-member Asean, succeeding Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in November.
“It’s still unknown who will become the next government after the election. So, the prime minister does not want to see anyone use this issue to create rifts in the society,” Sansern said.
The spokesman was referring to a July 31 opinion column by the senior managing editor of the Jakarta Post titled, “Don’t let Thai junta chief chair Asean next year”.
“[Indonesian] President Joko Widodo needs to use a strategy of silent diplomacy in discussing Thailand’s role with other leaders,” the commentary read. “And he must, of course, act according to the consensual Asean way. Thailand deserves the right to chair Asean, but not under a junta that has continued to cling on to powers it stole from the people four years ago.”