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20-year strategy not part of plot to stay in power, says PM

20-year strategy not part of plot to stay in power, says PM

MONDAY, April 09, 2018

PRIME MINISTER General Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday called on all political sides to work together and help avoid interruptions to the country’s progress.

Prayut also said that becoming prime minister was not part of his childhood plans. And he defended his 20-year national strategy, rejecting critics’ claim it was part of a “plot” to let him stay on in power.
“Today all the sides have to work together, otherwise things will go on and off, on and off again all the time,” he said.
“Everyone needs to participate. You don’t just make demands and stage protests.”
Prayut, who also heads the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), was giving a speech entitled “Chulalongkorn University and the Driving of Thailand During the Transition” at the university’s main auditorium.
The event was attended by the university’s students and lecturers, as well as a number of political activists including junta critics Sombat Boon-ngam-anong and Sirawit Serithiwat.
Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal, a CU student known for his anti-junta stance, was also in the audience. However, he was seated in the hall’s mezzanine, separate from most other audience members.
Appearing with a facemask and ear plugs, Netiwit said it was because he found the place “full of air and noise pollution”. He also wore a mourning band to protest the university management’s decision to invite “a person like this” to give a speech.
What Prayut said had not changed from his past remarks, said Netiwit. “He made jokes and there was no substance in what he said today.”
In a speech that lasted almost an hour, Prayut said nobody could tell whether the country’s current period under military rule would make things better or worse.
“But this government intends to do our best. We aim to ease the conflicts to make things better,” he said.
The PM appeared in a dark business suit and a pink tie, the university’s colour – as he mentioned during his talk.
He said that although his childhood was “far from perfect”, his goal at a young age had been to become a military officer – and hopefully a general before retirement.
 “I had no plan to become prime minister,” he said.
Prayut said his government’s 20-year national strategy was aimed at reforming the country in different areas – and not designed to ensure he would remain at the country’s helm.
“Why should I stay on in power for another 20 years? I am 60 now and that’s already old. I need to rest,” he said.
The prime minister later said he has yet to schedule his meeting with representatives from political parties.
“Whenever the election is called, there will definitely be a meeting. Sooner or later, the meeting will take place before the election,” he told reporters at the nearby Siam Square One building.
While Prayut was speaking to media, three CU students appeared nearby carrying sheets of paper bearing the message, “Chula people love Uncle Tu [Dictator]”, and with the words “Uncle Tu” crossed out.
As security officials were attempting to move the protesters, Prayut shouted: “Let them. Don’t harm them. If they don’t understand, let them.” 
While pointing his finger at the students, he said: “You are good. Come out next time when the country is in trouble.”