Tries to allay fears that junta may abuse its powers
The chief of the junta last night defended the way it is ruling the country, saying that it is simply attempting to solve the nation's problems fairly, with no intention of harming or destroying anyone in particular. General Prayuth Chan-ocha, head of the ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), also asked for public trust in the military rulers, now that the provisional charter has been in effect since Tuesday.
He was obviously referring to the controversial Article 44 of the interim charter, which gives him a lot of power in his capacity as NCPO chief.
“No matter how much power the NCPO has, if the use of power is undertaken for the benefit of the people and the country, there should be no worries,” he said. “If people who run the country are not good, transparent or efficient, they can be replaced at any time. Please trust the NCPO for how it exercises its power,” he said, adding, “We have no desire to stay in power for a long time.”
The junta chief was speaking during his weekly programme “Returning Happiness to People in the Country”, which was broadcast on all TV stations. He said that over the past two months since seizing power on May 22, the NCPO had attempted to solve the country’s problems quickly, but that it had no intention of harming or destroying any person in particular. Prayuth called for cooperation from all parties involved, saying that the NCPO alone could not achieve the goal of achieving sweeping national reforms.
“We have learned some lessons and we don’t want past mistakes to happen again. We have to work together today so that we can progress tomorrow,” he said.
The general said the junta had managed to reduce political violence, but that peace had not been fully restored, as there was still opposition to the NCPO’s work and there were still “efforts to distort facts and cause misunderstanding” both in and outside the country.
He warned that failure to achieve reforms could bring the country back to the vicious cycle of violence, which would render the military’s power seizure and efforts a waste of time.
In response to allegations that the NCPO is persecuting certain groups while favouring others, Prayuth said the rule of law should be respected and all cases should be dealt with fairly under the law.
“If we wanted to destroy any person in particular, we would have punished them when we possessed sovereign power. That was when we had a lot of power, but we did not do so,” he said. “All sides have to respect the law, which is the rule for society. The law exists to ensure peace in society, not to cause endless conflict. People who violate the law must be punished.
“If they don’t want to be punished, they have to escape and they can’t live in Thailand any more. If they want to come back and live in Thailand, they have to be arrested and prosecuted. There have been many cases like this,” he said.
The junta chief did not identify anyone in particular, although he was obviously referring to cases against politicians living overseas to escape prosecution at home.