JUNTA LEADER General Prayut Chan-o-cha has not ruled out the possibility of returning to politics after an election and said he might join a hard-working and selfless party amid political uncertainty and widespread criticism that the junta is trying to put off an election.
Prayut said he was waiting to see if any parties would invite him to be their candidate for premier. He said he would consider their proposals.
“If I need to continue my work, I’ll need to be with some party,” the junta leader said. “However, that party has to be hardworking and dedicated and not trying to undo everything built and achieved [in the past four years].”
Asked if the pro-junta Phalang Pracharat Party is the best option for him, Prayut said he had not been contacted by the party.
Prayut yesterday was unable to provide a clear answer on the election date despite mounting public curiosity and concern. The Royal Decree that would partly determine the date would be published in the Royal Gazette in a couple of days, he said.
The premier also dismissed the demand of a pro-election group that the government make a clear announcement on the poll, dismissing them as a small group of 200 protesters who are the “same old faces”. He urged the public not to give them attention.
It is believed that the election would be postponed by one month to March 24 instead of the previously planned February 24. But the date cannot be finalised until the Royal Decree on the poll is published in the Royal Gazette and the Election Commission formally calls an election and determines the date.
Prayut said that even after the Royal Decree is issued, the government would continue working as usual.
There has been criticism over some Cabinet members becoming members of the pro-junta Phalang Pracharat Party and refusing to give up their current posts. Prayut insisted yesterday that the government and its members still had to do their job.
Prayut asked critics not to view as unfair the ministers’ meetings with voters during the mobile Cabinet sessions in different provinces in what is perceived as an attempt to steal a march over other politicians contesting in the upcoming election. The government only works for the public interest, he said.
The junta leader yesterday stressed that the coup-installed government had made a substantial contribution to the country.
“Please don’t say that the government didn’t do anything. Just see the report for this year. It is this thick,” Prayut said, indicating an inch with his fingers.
The junta chief also warned politicians to consider whether the policies they were campaigning on were feasible, because of the strict rules and regulations on the budget and expenditure.
“You keep on talking but I’m not sure if you can really do it,” Prayut said. “The National Anti-Corruption Commission has lengthy regulations about this, too. If you get sued, [bear in mind] that everything follows the law.”