Prayuth acts dumb

13 10 2011

Photo: Bangkok Post

The Bangkok Post has a remarkably revealing story about Army boss Prayuth Chan-ocha.

Tough-guy Prayuth claimed he was “hurt and frustrated” after being “confronted by angry red-shirt people in flood-stricken Pathum Thani province while he was inspecting troops making sandbag barriers to protect them from rising waters on Wednesday.” These people “loudly berated him over the military’s crackdown on red-shirt demonstrators last year as he drove past.”

While others stand in chest-deep water, Prayuth in his shiny and very dry boots – see the picture left – says: “I would like to have pulled over and call out to them, asking why they act this way…. Have some respect for soldiers. Why do they hate soldiers?”

He can’t be serious and must be acting dumb. He knows he’s hated for the actions he oversaw in April and May 2010 that led to the deaths of 93 people and injuries to hundreds of others in the Army’s violent attacks on red shirt protesters. Of course, Prayuth believes that his actions saved the nation and monarchy from the people he hates, but he can still mouth utter nonsense like: “I am a soldier and do not take sides.”

Prayuth then plays up the fact that the Army and other armed forces have been working hard on floods and demands: “Do not bring politics into the act of bringing assistance to people in need…”. And he “repeated that he was upset, but said he had to exercise patience.” It might be a reasonable to ask for support for the army rank-and-file who are doing all the work, but to claim that “People should love their soldiers” carries little weight when the Army leadership has repeatedly killed the people over several decades.

Army snipers at work against protesters

And even on relief efforts, Prayuth gets political, saying:

“There are not enough soldiers. People must help. If you need help from soldiers, please tell the government to increase the number of soldiers,” Gen Prayuth said. He said there were only 250,000 soldiers in Thailand, but actually the country needed 450,000 soldiers to fullfil all its tasks.

That would make the Thai military the largest in Southeast Asia. PPT suggests that a serious Army commander would be looking to reduce the size of his forces, should be getting rid of the draft, and professionalizing the forces. Of course, the current leadership is only serious about politics, maintaining its political power and, as Prayuth has repeatedly claimed, “protecting the monarchy.”

For a story on how people-based flood relief is progressing, see the photo essay here.



One response

21 10 2011
A disaster plan « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] thought this a misprint or a mistake by a reporter. Wasn’t it Prayuth who, just a week ago, was reported to have claimed […]

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