Ma’an Samran, Chief Executive of Cherngtalay OrBorTor, requested the meeting after local people told him they did not believe that the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) was supporting the clean-up. They thought Mr Ma’an was using the coup as a pretext to take action on his own.
As the military and the police waited at Phuket City Police Station for the locals to turn up, Col Somchai Ponatong, Officer in Charge of Training at the Royal Thai Army’s 41st Military Circle Command in Nakhon Sri Thammarat, said, “Officials [police or troops] will allow the civilian officials to work with and manage local people first.
“But if there is a protest, we would just like to talk with the leaders. And of course I will look up their names to see if they are in the ‘top wanted list’ of 15 persons in Phuket.”
Pol Maj Gen Paween Pongsirin, Commander of the General Staff Division, Provincial Police Region 8, added, “Mr Ma’an called me after the illegal taxi salas were demolished. He said some people were not happy about this because they believed that OrBorTor officials were using the NCPO in an untrue way. So Mr Ma’an asked me to explain the truth to them.
“If this misunderstanding is not explained in the correct way, there might be a problem in the future. So I invited the Royal Thai Army’s 41st Military Circle Command and the Royal Thai Navy 3rd Fleet to join the meeting.”
In the event, none of the locals came.
Gen Paween explained with a smile, “When Mr Ma’an told people that the Army and Navy would join the meeting, those who had complained said that they now accepted [that he was telling the truth] and decided they did not need to attend the meeting.”
He added, “Special police teams will work within the law if someone resists the work of officials. We will solve all the problem and this will be success for Phuket, for sure.”
Capt Phetrat Tienchan of the Royal Thai Navy said, “Everyone can be sure that we will treat all people fairly and equally.”