PM joins those hitting back at Pheu Thai party in defence of the military
Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan have joined the chorus defending military spending and mandatory conscription against increasing criticism from anti-junta politicians, particularly Pheu Thai party’s prime ministerial candidate Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphan.
The Prime Minister insisted that defence spending was not only intended for the military and for national defence, but also for non-military operations such as helping people suffering from the after effects of natural disasters, the crackdown on illicit drugs and resolving conflicts between opposing groups.
He then chided politicians, without naming names, for speaking without regard to reality and national interests adding “If anything happens in the future, you the politicians must be held accountable,” apparently in reference to Pheu Thai’s chief campaign strategist Khunying Sudarat.
During the party’s campaign rally on Sunday, Sudarat said, if it won the election, the party will seek to cut defence spending by 10% or about 20 billion baht and the money would be used as seed money to promote young entrepreneurs. She also said the party would repeal mandatory conscription and introduce a voluntary system.
Responding to a reporter’s question regarding increasing criticism of the military by politicians in the lead-up to the March 24th election, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit simply said: “Just go back to listen to the song recommended by General Apirat, “Nak Paendin” (Burden of the Nation).
It was reported that the army had instructed all its 126 radio stations across the country to broadcast the song, “Nak Paendin”, every day except public holidays to remind soldiers of their duties and obligations toward the country in apparent retaliation against anti-junta parties and politicians.
However, the Army Civic Services Department later ordered the stations to stop broadcasting the song for fear of causing public misunderstanding and to confine the playing of the song within army barracks three times a day at 7.20 am, 12.20 pm and 4.20 pm.