Prayuth apologises to ASTV-Manager daily
Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha yesterday issued a public apology to the ASTV-Manager daily over his men holding a rally outside the paper's offices on Friday and Saturday.He said he was also sorry about his moodiness recently, adding that he had ordered an investigation into the protest led by the men in uniform and hoped his subordinates would be "patient".
The move came after ASTV-Manager daily called Prayuth "lousy" for his stance in relation to the Thai-Cambodian border dispute.
Prayuth was speaking to reporters after he attended an event celebrating the First Area Army's 103th anniversary where many military officers came to give him moral support.
"I must apologise to the society for my irritating behaviour, but I speak like a soldier. I may have spoken harshly, but you know it is my habit.
"As for soldiers who went to the ASTV-Manager office, I had their actions investigated and have learned that they asked for permission [before going].
"Also they did this outside office hours, so they have not done anything wrong. They were not instructed to go but were hurt that their colleagues had been injured or lost their lives [when protecting the country in Thai-Cambodian border skirmishes] but the Army is still being unfairly blamed," Prayuth said.
The Army chief had earlier told soldiers to not join the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) rally related to the Preah Vihear because he said soldiers' position should be clear and neutral.
When asked what he thought about ASTV owner and PAD co-leader Sondhi Limthongkul's harsh words against him, Prayuth said they both know what is appropriate. "I will never bar ASTV reporters from doing their job, and when I mentioned the newspaper, I did not blame any particular person. I apologise if my 'soldier-like' remarks [made the newspaper] feel insulted."
Yesterday, ASTV-Manager thanked Prayuth for his apologies in a message posted on its website.
It said it appreciated the military for protecting the country from the threats of political ideology as well as the violence in the South, and for its help during the 2011 flood
However, it will continue scrutinising the military and would also listen to criticisms along the principles of mutual respect.
In response to the Thai Journalists Association's statement in relation to the issue, the Army said yesterday that it was too soon to judge that the military was intimidating the media and that the officers had only gathered to "show their concern".