'Army needs help' to protect monarchy

national January 05, 2012 00:00

By The Nation

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The Army chief yesterday insisted the military was not complacent about its duty to protect the monarchy.

General Prayuth Chan-ocha also called on the public to help the military defend the monarchy against efforts to undermine the institution. He suggested a social boycott of lese-majeste law offenders.

“You can’t employ the law alone. The authorities involved are trying to use both legal and political means in dealing with this issue. It’s not that we are complacent or that we are not firm about protecting the monarchy,” Prayuth said.

“Most people in this country are aware what is going on. The point is that we have to help protect His Majesty the King and the monarchy,” the Army chief said.

“The military has the direct responsibility … but you should not let the military do it alone. Everybody must come out to help, as far as the country’s rules allow.”

Prayuth said that he did not want to get involved with the debate as to whether certain legal provisions about lese majeste should be amended. However, he admitted that applying the law alone was not enough and that the monarchy would eventually be affected from enforcement of the relevant legal provisions. He added that His Majesty the King in fact did not want offenders of the lese-majeste law to be punished.

The Army chief called for social boycott of “those bad people” who insult the monarchy so that their acts would have no impact and they would stop “doing bad things”.

In a related development, the Department of Special Investigation team probing the “diagram of the plot to overthrow the monarchy” has not obtained permission from its director-general Tarit Pengdith to summon Suthep Thaugsuban, former deputy prime minister and ex-director of the Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation (CRES), to testify about the diagram.

DSI deputy chief Prawet Moonpramuk, who heads the investigation, said yesterday that the agency wanted to know how the names in the diagram were collected, as the probe into the diagram had not progressed after more than a year.

However, Tarit gave permission to the DSI to summon on January 12 Thawil Pliensri, the former National Security Council secretary-general and former CRES secretary-general, to explain about the making of the diagram, according to Prawet.

The diagram was made by the previous Democrat-led government’s CRES during the political unrest in 2010.

Also yesterday, opposition Democrat Party spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut criticised the DSI for trying to imply that there was no movement campaigning to overthrow the monarchy. He was referring to the fact that DSI officials recently told the media they believed people mentioned in the diagram acted separately and were not part of a movement.

The Army chief said the insurgency-related violence in the deep South was one of his greatest concerns. He pointed to the tactic of increasingly deadly violence employed by the insurgents. However, he said that excessive use of military force and law enforcement against the insurgents would backfire through opposition and criticism from the public and the international community.

“Solving the problem will be more and more difficult, due to the social media and the globalised world,” Prayuth said. He also called on the mass media to denounce “those bad people” who are a threat to the country.

“If you denounce bad people, good people will get the moral support. If you allow good people to be harmed more and more and fail to condemn bad people, our country will not survive,” he said.

The Army chief also thanked respondents of an Abac Poll survey who picked him as one of the five best chief executives from the public sector for the last year.

“I feel honoured that most respondents trust the military. But this is not something I, or any chief executive, can achieve alone without the cooperation from subordinates,” he said, adding that other elements of society should also be credited for helping the military gain the good image.

The military won much accolade for helping affected residents during last year’s severe flooding in many provinces, including Bangkok.

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