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PDRC and its relationship with the military top brass

Sakoltee

Sakoltee

People's Democratic Reform Committee member Sakoltee Phattiyakul talks to The Nation's Kornchanok Raksaseri about the military's relationship with the PDRC and its role in Thai politics. Here is an excerpt:

Is it true that the PDRC has a close relationship with the top brass?

Some of us have a relationship as we worked together before. For example, Suthep [Thaugsuban, the PDRC secretary-general] was deputy premier in charge of national security.

He worked with the top brass in the past. My father [General Winai Phattiyakul] was a former permanent secretary of Defence.

He is familiar with the senior generals like General Tanasak [Patimapragorn, the Supreme Commander] as they used to work together. General Nipat [Thonglek, current permanent secretary] was far less senior.

However, the military has its own stance and has nothing to do with the protest.

How would you describe the military's role in Thai politics?

The military is an official government unit, which is powerful as a functioning mechanism. It has a large number of personnel and they are in charge of arms.

Although [the military] remains in the barracks, politically it is still an agency that the people would show deference to.

Why do you need support from the military?

We want a people's revolution and this requires government officials to boycott the government. The military is a powerful agency, as I have said, so we want its support. The military has now realised that a military coup would be a quick [outcome], but it could backfire hugely with many problems. So the military would definitely not come out unless there was violence.

How would you interpret the military gestures so far?

We have to look at them separately. The focus should be on the armed forces commanders, as they are the controllers of the forces. The permanent secretary is the top position but [he is] more like a strategist for the defence minister. It is normal that he would speak for the government.

So far, the armed forces' leaders remain neutral. But as they have said they would take "the people's side", instead of saying that they would "follow the government", that's a good sign.

Do the PDRC and the military talk to each other a lot?

We talk constantly but not at the top, mainly through a commander of Directorate of Military Operations. He will talk to me and I relay the message to Suthep. The only time that Suthep went to meet the top brass [privately] was during the meeting with the prime minister.






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