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Prayut dares critics in exile to face music

BANGKOK: Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday suddenly lost patience with critics “scolding” the military government from abroad, challenging them to come back and face charges in Thailand.

military, immigration, politics,


Bangkok Post

Thursday 22 June 2017, 08:47AM


Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha meets Boy Scouts after giving a speech on the ‘Thailand 4.0’ policy at Khon Kaen University. Photo: Government House
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha meets Boy Scouts after giving a speech on the ‘Thailand 4.0’ policy at Khon Kaen University. Photo: Government House

His comment, after giving a speech on the Thailand 4.0 policy at Khon Kaen University in the Northeast yesterday (June 21), was brief but reflected his concerns about opponents of the government.

Without targeting specific people, Gen Prayut urged the critics to “face penalties” in Thailand and told them “not to keep scolding [the government] from abroad”.

Their constant criticism has made it difficult for him to keep silent, he said.

Many people accused of wrongdoing, which included lese majeste charges, during the post-coup period have fled Thailand, some reportedly sought political asylum.

Among them are historian Somsak Jeamteerasakul, academic Pavin Chachavalpongpun and Scottish journalist Andrew MacGregor Marshall. The Digital Economy and Society Ministry in April warned people not to exchange information online with these three prominent regime critics, who are wanted for breaking the country’s strict Section 112 of the Criminal Code, known as the lese majeste law.

Gen Prayut is aware that many people oppose the military regime, including people in Khon Kaen.

In 2014, he was greeted by Khon Kaen University’s Dao Din student group flashing him a three-finger salute, a symbol of defiance copied from the Hollywood flick The Hunger Games.

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A leader of the group, Jatupat Boonpattararaksa, or Pai Dao Din, was arrested in December last year for offending the monarchy and breaking the cybercrime law. He is still in pre-trial detention.

After his speech, Gen Prayut told the audience of 5,000 from 20 northeastern provinces: “Don’t hate soldiers. Don’t hate the government.”

The talk went smoothly except for a few villagers who tried to break into the venue to complain about money issues, but were stopped by security officers.

The prime minister insisted his government intends to solve the country’s problems and propel Thailand into the fourth industrial age, known as Thailand 4.0, emphasising technological advances and high-level services.

One example is all villages in Thailand are scheduled to be able to access wireless internet by next year to enable better communication, Gen Prayut said.

Read original story here.

 

 

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