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Defence chief denies coup is a possibility

BANGKOK: Newly appointed defence forces chief Gen Chalermpol Srisawasdi on Monday (Oct 19) insisted that the military would not get involved in politics and a military coup was not on their minds.

By Bangkok Post

Monday 19 October 2020, 03:45PM

Defence forces chief Gen Chalermpol Srisawasdi.

Defence forces chief Gen Chalermpol Srisawasdi.

Gen Chalermpol was speaking after the first meeting of the new leaders of the three armed forces and the Royal Thai Police, reports the Bangkok Post.

Also present were army chief Gen Narongphan Jitkaewtae, navy chief Adm Chartchai Sriworakhan, air force chief ACM Airbull Suttiwan and national police chief Pol Gen Suwat Jangyodsuk.

Asked about the military’s role in politics, Gen Chalermpol said politics involved the governing of the country under the law, while the military served as the government’s mechanism in social and economic affairs.

“As for politics, the military has no involvement, although they are directly involved in state security because this is the duty of the military. It is the duty under the constitution,” Gen Chalermpol said.

Asked about the armed forces leaders’ roles as senators, he said they only served during a so-called five-year transitional period as stipulated by the constitution.

The armed forces leaders are among six state officials serving as senators under the current constitution.

The three others are the chief of the defence forces, the permanent secretary for defence and the national police chief.

Under the constitution, the coup-appointed Senate is allowed to join the House of Representatives to vote for a prime minister.

Asked to give assurances there would be no military coup, Gen Chalermpol said the matter was “not part of the military’s action plans’”.

Gen Chalermpol on Monday also laid down the armed forces’ policies, including protecting the monarchy, national defence, maintaining state security, building security cooperation with other countries, supporting efforts to develop the country and preventing and easing natural disasters.

Police move to silence news, Facebook platforms

The announcement followed the Royal Thai Police moving to silence news agencies and Facebook platforms over their coverage of the protests in Bangkok over the weekend.

Police want to shut down four media outlets and a Facebook page run by protesters, on grounds their content constitutes a threat to national security, the Bangkok Post noted in another report.

National police chief Suwat Jangyodsuk on Friday signed an order under the emergency decree requesting the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission and the Digital Economy and Society Ministry to ban Voice TV, website, The Reporters and The Standard, as well as the Free Youth movement Facebook page.

The Reporters is Facebook-based. The Standard is web-based, but has a Facebook page. Voice TV also has a Facebook page.

Pol Gen Suwat said the four news outlets and the protest leaders’ Facebook page published content harmful to national security.

The emergency decree, which has been enforced since Thursday, allows authorities to ban media and other information deemed threatening to national security.

The move comes as rallies against the government have spread across the country, especially after rally leaders were arrested as police fired water cannons with coloured dye to disperse a peaceful protest at Pathumwan intersection on Friday.

The Free Youth movement and its ally, the United Front for Thammasat and Demonstration, has already reached out, asking followers on Sunday to shift from their Facebook pages to Telegram, a messaging app, after rumours they would be targeted by authorities.

Thapanee Eadsrichai, a founder of The Reporters, posted a Facebook message saying the outlet continued to operate on Monday.

Former finance minister and government critic Thirachai Phuvanatnaranubala also slammed the police move on his Facebook account, saying the country was moving backwards to "complete dictatorship".

He wondered whether the Facebook accounts of other individuals would be the next targets.

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Cucabumber | 21 October 2020 - 21:43:03

A military coup to oust the military! Hardly likely. Doesn’t the king usually step in? Oh that’s right. The police now do that job! What a twisted situation.

They will be choosing Chinese as the first tourists to arrive soon. Talk about committing tourism suuicide!

JohnC | 20 October 2020 - 09:19:22

Funny statement to make. The military is always involved in politics here. That's how the current dictator got there, via yet another coup. Need the military to kick out the current military government cause they won't let the protestors do it.

Kurt | 20 October 2020 - 08:54:28

AlthoughThai Military have not much trust seen numerous coups in the past, somehow I sense that this new Defence Forces Chief understand that there is a new wind blowing through the Thai society that want to board the train for Thai democracy. De anti democratic force seems to lay with the 'Hawk' National police Chief. They must stop to call anything they not like to call a threat.

Shwe | 20 October 2020 - 07:37:34

Why would they have a coup? the military already govern Thailand

Kurt | 19 October 2020 - 16:45:50

Indeed, a military involvement in state security is against threats from outside the country, not against own Thai people. That is not done in a democracy.  The worry now is the undemocratic freewheeling role of the RTP this moment. Their try to cut off democratic voices is very disturbing. Blocking free press and free expression is going to become oil for on a not yet started fire.


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