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Audio clip leaves govt with a lot of explaining to do

Songklod Chuenchuphol, a former Army captain, holds up a Buddha idol while creating a scene at the Defence Ministry yesterday. He challenged Deputy Defence Minister General Yuthasak Sasiprapha to swear before the idol that he was not one of the men heard

Songklod Chuenchuphol, a former Army captain, holds up a Buddha idol while creating a scene at the Defence Ministry yesterday. He challenged Deputy Defence Minister General Yuthasak Sasiprapha to swear before the idol that he was not one of the men heard

The mysterious audio clip that has been distributed over the Internet and covered by the media is likely to become a political bombshell for the government and the prime minister.

In the clip, two men discuss intervening in the appointment of top military brass. One sounds like a former prime minister and the other, older man, a Cabinet member involved with the military.

The older man, who said he was 76, referred to the younger man as "Mr prime minister" and "my boss". He updated the other man on the latest developments in the government and armed forces. He went to great depth on some topics. This controversial recording, which is about 30 minutes long, has sparked heated debate in society, particularly among users of social media.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said yesterday that she had talked with Deputy Defence Minister Yuthasak Sasiprapha about the audio clip. She said she did not think this scandal would sour the ties between the government and the military.

She walked away when a reporter asked whether she thought the voice of the other man in the clip belonged to her brother, ex-premier Thaksin.

MPs from the ruling Pheu Thai Party and Thaksin's spokesman Noppadon Pattama insisted that the clip was doctored and released for political impact. Noppadon demanded opposition MPs verify the clip's authenticity before criticising it.

Yuthasak has denied being one of the men in the clip, and he refused to comment on the matter yesterday when approached by the media at the Defence Ministry.

Some sources in the ruling party said Yingluck, as the government head and new defence minister, was in danger of being damaged by this controversy.

Trust between the government and the armed forces, particularly top commanders, is likely to be badly eroded. And it will take some time to restore confidence. Earlier efforts by the prime minister to win the hearts of the commanders now appear to have been in vain.

This clip has added another problem to the headaches facing the government. And the government may need to do some explaining to people mentioned in the clip. Some red-shirt scholars may also want further clarifications to be convinced that the clip is fake.




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