Government ministers and officials yesterday rejected speculation that the government was recruiting people to reply to Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha’ s six questions in regard to future politics and the election.
Among the six questions, people were asked whether the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) and prime minister had the right to support particular political parties, resulting in speculation that the junta planned to enter politics or even set up its own party. Almost 20,000 people yesterday responded to Prayut’s questions, Interior Minister General Anupong Paochinda said.
Anupong said 19,580 people had responded freely and not been persuaded to do so, as had been alleged by Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva. “We don’t have a policy to direct people to reply to the questions. Anyone doing this would be guilty,” Anupong said.
His remarks were echoed by Deputy Prime Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan, who insisted that people had not been recruited to answer the prime minister’s questions. Abhisit on Monday said he had been told that people in Bangkok had been recruited to answer the questions and he was investigating the claim.
Monday was the first day that the government Dhamrongtham centres were receiving public responses.
However, the number of the people turning out on Monday was relatively low, which Prawit conceded by saying that it was just the first day. Prawit said Prayut only wanted to learn from people what they thought about the issues, not from politicians who have accused the prime minister of sidetracking the political process by asking the questions.
Prawit rejected the notion that the junta would follow the public’s opinion if people responded that it would be acceptable for the junta to set up a political party, adding that it was an issue to be decided in the future. However, he said the prime minister would not set up a party himself.
Government Spokesperson Lt-General Sansern Kaewkamnerd said the prime minister had asked the questions because he would like people to consider the progress of ongoing projects, including reforms and the national strategy. He added that Prayut did not want to see those efforts go to waste after the present government steps down, so people had been invited to submit opinions about how the projects could be maintained.
Meanwhile, Prawit instructed fellow Cabinet members to use an “offensive strategy” in performing their duties, as there was an ongoing attempt to discredit government officials by the dissemination of false information. After Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting, Sansern said Prawit, who chaired the meeting, had ordered ministers to work in accordance with Prayut’s instructions as they had pledged to do. “There has been mudslinging, distortion and distribution of false information to discredit government officials. We admit that some [things that have been said] are true, but others are not,” Sansern said. Prawit also told ministers to explain their work to the public, Sansern added.