Gen Prayut, accompanied by Interior Minister Gen Anupong Paojinda, Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin and PM’s Office Minister Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana, travelled by helicopter to Ban Pong district of Ratchaburi yesterday.
He was in the province to inspect progress in eight developmental and infrastructure projects with a combined investment of more than B1 billion, reports the Bangkok Post.
His first stop was in Wat Hoob Krathing in tambon Berk Prai where he was greeted by students. Prayut told the young supporters to be patriotic, pious and loyal to the monarchy and unite.
At the town hall of Bang Pong municipality, Prayut addressed a gathering of people, saying he had witnessed and done a lot in the past four years of the government after he was elected premier by parliament.
He emphasised the priority to build more basic infrastructure for the convenience of commuters and freight transport.
However, he admitted there was a limit to how much the government could give, with regard to welfare schemes, to low-income citizens, citing budget constraints.
“Giving more than the government could afford is not an act of welfare. It’s legally out of the question.
“I’m not heartless, though. What I’m doing is not for vested gain. Part of the state budget must be reserved for a rainy day,” he said.
“The country’s financial standing remains solid, and other countries commended the country for it,” the prime minister added.
“They [critics] deride me for being ignorant about these things. But I’ve been prime minister for eight years. Would I be that dumb for lasting as long as I have? I’m not so half-witted,” Prayut said.
A prime minister was not immune to being criticised by his subordinates and state officials if they issued an order which does not make sense.
About 10 minutes before Prayut arrived at the town hall, an elderly woman showed up and shouted insults at the premier. She was met with two plainclothes female police officers who tried in vain to escort her away.
The woman was later dragged from the scene, and the police reportedly put out an umbrella in an attempt to shield her from public view.
As Prayut’s motorcade went past, the woman shouted abuse at the prime minister.
Prayut later told supporters he was aware that some people were picking fault with him. Apparently referring to the shouting incident, he jokingly said his opponents with only three fingers left on each hand should see a doctor.
He is believed to have directed his comment at youth-led, anti-government groups known for their symbolic three-finger salute.
“But I’m not upset with them or anything. We’re Thais all the same,” Prayut said.
He added: “It’s not terribly happy standing where I am. But it’s a duty.”
MFP on receiving end
On Sunday, a group of people picketed outside the Samyan Mitrtown shopping mall in Bangkok in protest against the Move Forward Party (MFP), which was unveiling its potential MP candidates for all 33 constituencies in the capital there.
Four people held up placards attacking the party. Pannikar Wanich, spokeswoman of the Progressive Movement, went out to meet them and asked where they came from. The group later left after 10 minutes.
The MFP fielded mostly new faces as potential candidates. Only two, Natcha Boonchai-insawat and Thao-pipob Limjittakorn, were named as potential candidates in Bangkok, who were elected in the previous 2019 election under the now-dissolved Future Forward Party.
No canvassing on duty
Also yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam dismissed an accusation by Somchai Srisutthiyakorn, Seri Ruam Thai Party’s policy steering chairman, that Prayut, a member of the United Thai Nation (UTN) Party, abused his power by electioneering during office hours and using state vehicles and resources for canvassing purposes.
He said the cabinet ministers were fully aware of the legal boundary that separates work from the election campaign.
The prime minister needs to visit provinces to follow up on government work in the localities, he said. “That’s part of running the administration, which is a perfectly legitimate practice,” he added.
Gen Prawit’s inspection
Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, as chairman of the Office of the National Water Resources, went to Koh Samui in Surat Thani yesterday to monitor projects on water sources development that serve Surat Thani, Chumphon and Ranong.
Gen Prawit, also leader of the ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) said the water management projects had made headway in preventing floods and drought in many areas.
Reservoirs were being dredged so they can store more rainwater, he said.
Pheu Thai out on Friday
Meanwhile, the main opposition Pheu Thai Party announced it would introduce its potential MP candidates for all 400 constituencies nationwide on Friday.
A party source said Justice Minister Somsak Thepsutin and Industry Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit were also defecting from the PPRP to Pheu Thai.
Party leader, Dr Cholnan Srikaew, said yesterday Pheu Thai would officially announce its prime ministerial candidates when the House is dissolved.
The dissolution is expected next week.
Kurt | 14 March 2023 - 10:00:37