Bangkok Pundit has an excellent post on the refusal by Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwon and Army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha to deal with any third party on the Cambodia-Thailand border. This seems like yet another case where the military can go its own way and put the Abhisit Vejjajiva government in its place as junior partner in the “coalition.” Of course, the army refused other orders under previous governments as well, demonstrating its power.
Meanwhile, in the south, as violence spikes again, the Army boss has been engaged inn policy-making. The Bangkok Post reports that Prayuth has “apologised to a group of about 600 people from the three troubled southern border provinces for two major incidents which caused a large number of deaths in 2004.”
His comments were to people at an Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) training program in Bangkok, and he referred to “the deaths of 32 Thai Muslims killed during the Krue Se Mosque siege in Pattani on April 28, 2004, and for the deaths of 78 young Muslim people at Tak Bai Narathiwat on Oct 25, 2004.”
Prayuth said the “incidents should not have happened. I apologise to all southerners, especially relatives of the dead, even though at the time I was not yet in this position.” He admitted some “carelessness on the part of the authorities,” and promised “not to let anything like that happen again…”.
He added: “No matter what, the three provinces cannot be separated or given self-rule because that would be against the constitution…”. Of course, as the army boss well knows, the army has regularly changed the constitution.
Prayuth has been widely reported in recent days on several issues, and his claim to be staying out of politics doesn’t hold for a second. What isn’t clear is who he is campaigning for. Perhaps the military itself?