Prayut tries to ease fears as poll nears
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday vowed there would be no more coups, saying the 2014 putsch was the last, in an attempt to allay fears as the general election nears.
Gen Prayut was responding to a question regarding remarks written by Deputy Prime Minister and Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) leader Prawit Wongsuwon on Facebook on Wednesday.
In the post, Gen Prawit, who is the PPRP’s prime minister candidate, said he can do better than others in promoting national reconciliation and coordinating national development between politicians and the elite.
He said he has a “good understanding of the country’s power structure, which has an impact on power struggles and the distribution of power” in the country.
There is more to the structure than what is being promoted and advertised among the public, he said.
The fight between two ideologies has been intense for years, he said, with the elite looking at the follies of politicians and people’s inability to elect capable individuals to run the country.
“I have become aware that those who support coups never cease to exist in the power structure,” Gen Prawit said in the post. “I look at the situation as a whole with an understanding of why those who wield influence and dictate the direction of the country think and work together as such.”
He added that he intends to invite members of the elite to take part in national development, with the intention to end political conflicts.
Asked if he had read Gen Prawit’s post, the PM said he did read it and saw nothing wrong with it.
Asked about the coups mentioned in Gen Prawit’s post, Gen Prawit said the last coup took place a long time ago.
“I am here [as prime minister because of] the parliamentary system and the constitution, aren’t I? You should know what happened in the country before the coup.”
“What would have happened if nothing had been done to stop the conflict at the time?” asked Gen Prayut, who led the May 22, 2014, coup that ousted the Pheu Thai-led government following months of anti-government street protests.
Asked if there is still conflict that may lead to a similar coup in the future, Gen Prayut said there are no serious conflicts.
“The country must be peaceful and people happy,” he said. “Don’t go back to the same situation.”
Asked if there will be another coup if he cannot return as prime minister after the election, Gen Prayut asked: “Who will stage a coup?”
Asked again whether there would be another coup, he said: “I already said a long time ago that the  coup is the last. There should be no coup again.”
“It is also up to everyone to help prevent it,” he said. “If a serious conflict occurs again, I don’t know how to solve it because I have nothing to do with it now.”
Asked if rumours about a coup ahead of the election were intended to discredit him, Gen Prayut said he believes so.
Gen Prayut, who left the PPRP to join the United Thai Nation Party (UTN), insisted he remains on good terms with Gen Prawit.
“He is still like my brother,” he said, adding that he does not see Gen Prawit as a political rival despite them now belonging to different parties.
Gen Prayut is now the chief strategist of the UTN Party and is touted as its prime ministerial candidate.
Asked if he can steer the country out of political conflicts if he returns as prime minister, Gen Prayut reiterated: “I don’t see any [serious] conflict. But if there is a difference of opinion, that’s acceptable.”
He also brushed aside criticism that the government recently approved increasing the monthly allowances of village volunteers from 1,000 to 2,000 baht in a last-ditch effort to woo voters ahead of the election, noting it was proposed by coalition parties a long time ago.
“This is to help the volunteers who worked hard [during the Covid-19 pandemic],” Gen Prayut said.