Prem and the 2006 coup allegations

24 03 2009

General Prem Tinsulanond, former unelected prime minister from 1980 to 1988 and now president of the Privy Council, has been implicated in the planning of the 2006 coup. There have been reports regarding this and they are appended below. Prem has denied his involvement.

In the Bangkok Post (24 March 2009: “Prem ignores Thaksin’s claims”), it is reported that, Privy Council president Prem Tinsulanonda has issued no instructions in response to Thaksin Shinawatra’s claim that two privy councillors were behind the 2006 military coup that toppled his government, a spokesman for the general said on Tuesday [Chris Baker has posted a translation of Thaksin’s main points at New Mandala]. Gen Prem’s personal secretary, Vice-Admiral Phajun Tamprateep, also said the two accused privy councillors — Gen Surayud Chulanont and Charnchai Likhitjitta — have not met Gen Prem to discuss the matter.”

Further, “Vice-Admiral Phajun said the Privy Council president was not worried by the accusation, nor was he angered by it. Gen Prem had not asked security agencies to closely monitor Thursday’s planned rally by the red-shirts, when Thaksin is expected to make another phone-in, he added.”

On Prem’s involvement in Thaksin’s ousting, it is noticeable that following the king’s declaration on the April 2006 election, the center of the opposition to Thaksin and the Thai Rak Thai government moved from PAD to Prem. Prem made a series of speeches criticising the government and Thaksin both before and after the coup (see the report at Thai Parliament and  New Mandala for a snippet that is also posted at General Prem’s website, but without links; in fact, Prem’s news site includes a range of similar reports, many of which seem to have gone from the Bangkok Post website). Prem was implicated in discussions with senior judges. His most explicit attack on the government was his 1 September 2006 speech to 950 cadets at the Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy where he said the soldiers belonged to the king, not a government. He was supported by military leaders and Privy Councilor and former army commander General Surayud Chulanont (read the speech here).

In late June 2006, Thaksin had made statements alleging that a “charismatic person” was working to bring his government down. Many assumed that this figure was General Prem or the king himself (The Nation, 4 July 2006; International Herald Tribune, 7 July 2006).

At about this time, the first public reports of a possible coup emerged as General Prem apparently held discussions with military figures and palace advisers (Straits Times, 8 July 2006). Soon after Prem visited the military units and demanded that officers be loyal to the king, powerful serving officers began a public campaign against Thaksin ( The Nation, 3 January 2007).

Much of the current lesé majesté controversy can be traced back to the events of the coup, the PAD’s use of royal symbols and the military junta’s expressions of royalism (including the use of yellow ribbons on weapons and tanks during the coup).



One response

31 03 2009
New: Prem responds to Thaksin « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] More on Prem’s role in the events leading to the military coup may be found here. […]

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