PM mum on move to amend defence act; denies any distrust between govt and forces
Prime Minister Yingluck Shina-watra was coy yesterday on the potentially explosive plan to wrest some control from the military by amending the Defence Ministry Administration Act, saying nothing would go against right “principles”.
Meeting military top brass for another day, the prime minister voiced confidence in the mutual trust between her government and the military, ruling out concern about being ousted by a coup like her brother Thaksin.
“I have confidence in my striving to serve the public and no one should speculate on my end because only the people can be the judge,” she said.
Yingluck was talking to reporters after her introductory visit to the Supreme Command headquarters.
She admitted that as the country’s first female prime minister, she had initial reservations about the Armed Forces but her concerns were allayed after meeting and working with the military leaders.
Defence Minister Yuthasak Sasiprapha led the top commanders to welcome her with all the usual pomp, including a guard of honour inspection, organised indoors to be spared the scorching sun.
Supreme Commander General Thanasak Patimapakorn accompanied the prime minister to tour the headquarters, including the main communications room where the joint chiefs of staff monitor the situation.
In her policy statement given to the military, Yingluck emphasised two security priorities: safeguarding the monarchy and bringing about reconciliation.
She said all her fellow Thais shared the same aspiration as the government and the Armed Forces to ensure national unity.
She said her government was looking forward to working with the Armed Forces, particularly the Military Development Corps, to improve the country’s infrastructure.
She said the government and the military had proved they could work together well during the flood crisis.
She pledged to back the military development and expected, in return, cooperation from the Armed Forces in dealing with security issues.
Regarding the push to amend the Defence Ministry Administration Act, she said she had not had time to review the issue and did not expect the debate on the provisions on military appointments to come up at this juncture.
“My priority is to work with the Armed Forces in addressing the people’s grievances,” she said.
Although certain Pheu Thai MPs might have wanted to amend the military provisions, the Cabinet would have the final say on whether to sponsor the proposed amendments, she said.
“We have to differentiate between people’s rights to say things they like and the fact that the final decision on such matters rests with the Cabinet,” she said.
The alleged plan to amend the act would give the government more power in key military reshuffles, which are currently in the hands of a defence committee dominated by top-ranking soldiers.
Yingluck said she had complete confidence in the Armed Forces, quelling speculation about distrust between the government and the military.