No antagonism towards countries critical of the coup, Prayuth tells Thai envoys

national June 12, 2014 00:00

By The Nation

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Junta chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha said yesterday in his policy guidance to Thai envoys that Thailand would not be opposed to any country that strongly criticises the military coup.

He urged more than 20 Thai diplomats, who represent the Kingdom overseas, to seek understanding from the international community.

“It is impossible to have all countries to agree with the power seizure, but we have our own dignity,” he told the ambassadors and consulates-general in a meeting at Royal Thai Army headquarters yesterday.

“But, we don’t oppose countries that have a different opinion. Our job is to seek better understanding from them and we expect that when the situation improves, all countries would understand our real intention,” Prayuth said.

A source at the meeting said Prayuth had also instructed the envoys to look after Thai expatriates who have different political views and oppose the junta. Those who have strong ideas against the Royal Family or who have fled lese majeste charges must be under close surveillance, the source said.

Prayuth, who is also the Army chief, staged a military coup on May 22 toppling the Pheu Thai-led caretaker government after attempts to negotiate peace among the warring factions failed.

Western countries, notably the United States and Australia, reacted strongly against the coup. Washington cut military assistance and cancelled joint exercises, while Canberra downgraded military cooperation and imposed travel restrictions on senior military officers.

The general urged the Thai envoys to tell their counterparts in foreign countries that Thailand was working to have a “perfect democracy” in which the three sovereign branches – the executive, the legislative and the judiciary – would be united.

He did not explain his idea of a “perfect democracy”, but urged the diplomats to explain officially, unofficially and privately to foreign governments about the plan to restore democracy in Thailand.

Ambassadors and consulates-general from major posts such as Washington, Berlin, Paris, The Hague and Tokyo attended the meeting yesterday.

Foreign affairs are important to the country, Prayuth said, as Thailand does not stand on its own but has to trade with other nations. “We have to have relations with foreign countries because our major national income is from foreign trade,” he said.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Sek Wannamethee later quoted the Thai diplomats as saying that their counterparts overseas had a better understanding about the situation in Thailand and realised that it was necessary to maintain good relations with the Kingdom despite having different principles. He also dismissed rumours that Prayuth’s wife’s visa-application to Australia had been rejected.

Meanwhile, Defence acting permanent secretary Surasak Kanchanarat led a team to China for the 10th session of the Thai-Chinese joint security committee, to forge cooperation on defence matters between the two countries.

Asked if the situation in Thailand would be on the agenda, Surasak said the meeting would focus on routine cooperation between the two militaries, which was not related to political developments in Thailand. The meeting would discuss many issues, including the security situation in the region and joint military exercises between China and Thailand. The two would also explore the possibility of more cooperation on having joint exercises, he said.

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