Tanks are out for kids, not coup: Army

national January 07, 2014 00:00

By Panya Thiosangwan,

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Children's day celebrations coincides with preparations for armed forces day

MILITARY tanks and armoured vehicles are hitting Bangkok’s roads – but not for a coup. The Army says they’re rolling in for a military parade and preparations for the National Children’s Day events.

This year, National Children’s Day will fall on January 11.

The military parade, meanwhile, is scheduled to take place on January 18 to mark Thai Armed Forces Day.

Rehearsals for the military parade started yesterday morning.

Military tanks, armoured vehicles, and several military supplies from various military bases in nearby provinces such as Lop Buri and Saraburi have been moved to Bangkok.

“The moves are not for any coup plot,” Maj Gen Wara Boonyasit said yesterday in his capacity as commander of the 1st Division, the King’s Guard.

He spoke out to dismiss rumours the military was preparing to stage a coup.

Political tension in Thailand has been intensifying with anti-government demonstrators set to occupy 20 major intersections in Bangkok from January 13 onward.

As the political heat rises, word has spread that a military coup might again take place.

“No, the rumours are untrue,” Wara said, “[The] parades have been planned since mid-2013.”

However this year there’s a twist.

Although military parades have been held to mark the Thai Armed Forces Day every year, the upcoming parade is special in that it marks the first time military vehicles are being used.

“The inclusion is in response to Royal Thai Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha’s initiative to parade Thailand’s modern military weapons and showcase the strength of its troops before the eyes of military attaches from various countries,” Wara said.

He said the parades also intended to honour Prayuth and Supreme Commander Thanasak Patimaprakorn, who will retire at the end of September.

Royal Thai Army (RTA) deputy spokeswoman Sirijan Ngathong |said that on ThursdayJanuary 9, the RTA would be moving military vehicles from Ratchaburi, Prachin Buri |and Lop Buri to Bangkok as part |of the National Children’s Day events.

“They will be exhibited at the 2nd Cavalry Division King’s Guard and the Royal Thai Armed Forces headquarters,” she said.

In a related development, PM’s deputy secretary-general Thawat Boonfueng said it remained unclear whether the government would be able to hold activities for National Children’s Day inside the Government House this year.

Normally, the government opens the Government House for children to enter and explore the place, even to sit at the prime minister’s desk on National Children’s Day.

The presence of anti-government demonstrators next to the Government House, however, has been a concern for officials.

“If the demonstrators don’t agree to relocate, we won’t be able to hold the activities for children at Government House,” Thawat said, who is negotiating with demonstrators.



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