Gen Prayut said in a televised speech on Friday evening (Apr 17) that he was preparing to send letters to 20 richest Thais, asking them to join efforts in finding solutions to the virus outbreak next week. (See story here).
Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said yesterday (Apr 18) that some social media users had distorted his message, making it sound like he was asking them for money.
The hashtag #BeggarGovernment trended for a while after the announcement.
“I don’t know who these 20 people are. I only check the content to be put in the letter,” he said.
“The government will not send the letters asking for money. Let’s wait to see what’s inside them. But I can assure you we’re not begging for money. Everything will be clearer next week because the prime minister will check the detail himself.”
Government spokeswoman Narumon Pinyosinwat also confirmed yesterday that the Prime Minister wanted to directly hear the opinions of everyone and it had nothing to do with how much money one had.
“We want to listen to views from all sectors, to have them participate,” she said.
On the names of these 20 people, Mrs Narumon said she had no information at this point.
“But we insist the prime minister wants guidelines on how to tackle the problem,” she said.
Gen Prayut will listen to the opinions of the private sector next week but it remains unclear whether he will hold a meeting or visit their places of business.
On Friday, Gen Prayut laid out his plans for a new “Team Thailand”, saying: “I’ll send an open letter to the 20 richest people in the country, asking them to tell me how they, as senior members of society, can cooperate with us and what they can do to help the country more going forward. These rich people have a lot of influence on the country’s economy and rank among the richest in the world.
“I would like to ask them to play a key role in jointly help the country and join us as members of Team Thailand. I understand and very much appreciate what some of them have already done but I want all of them to do more. I know all of them are willing, especially at a time when the country needs help the most, because I know the troubles faced by Thais are your pain.
“I ask you to share your capabilities and intelligence, as well as your visionary views, and use your high-potential organisations to help deal with the crisis we’re facing now.”