Bangkok, the 8th of October 2010: General Prayut Chan-O-Cha (Army Commander-in-Chief) on Thursday addressed various comments made regarding his alleged political bias and avid support of the nation’s ‘yellow’ faction.
“I have never said I hate Red Shirts… Thais have one colour,” General Prayut Chan-O-Cha said after talking publicly for the first time since taking the job on October 1. “We are not involved in politics,” he added. “There is already a lot to do.”
Taking the reigns of the very influential Royal Thai Army, Prayut may be directly responsible for controlling situations of a political nature in the near future with the country just out of its most deadly political unrest in decades.
Prayut reportedly oversaw large parts of the military assault on the Red Shirts fortified encampment at the heart of Bangkok during May, particularly on the 19th when security forces were seen storming the compound, while a media ban was enforced on the area. Ninety-one people lost their lives during the clashes in April/May of this year, while a further 1,900 were injured.
The force and respective ‘shadow’ of the Thai military constantly looms over the nation and its political issues, with an amazing 18 actual or attempted coups since 1932.
Speaking on the chances of another coup, Prayut voiced that it “should be out of the question” but appeared not to rule out the possibility of military intervention completely. “Whatever can stabilise our country, go ahead and do it, the army will support it, but when our country is in jeopardy we will act,” he said.
“We are not killing or injuring them. We have told them not to join rallies again because lives are at risk when there are weapons involved,” he added after being questioned regarding the militaries tough stance against the anti-government protesters.
Regarding a recent string of grenade blasts in Bangkok and the recent explosion in Nonthaburi that left four people dead and nine injured, Prayut declined to make a statement other than to assure that the army was doing its utmost to assist authorities in maintaining peace in the nation.
Prayut is seen as a close ally of his predecessor General Anupong Paojinda; both were central figures in the 2006 coup to oust tycoon-come-premier Thaksin Shinawatra, considered an iconic figure amongst most of the Red Shirt protesters for his domestic policies for the masses. This as such left him reviled by the Bangkok-based ‘elite’.