Tue, July 05, 2022

in-focus

Prayut says 2014 coup was a 'necessary evil' to move Thailand forward


Three days before the eighth anniversary of the 2014 coup that he led, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Thursday defended the power seizure, saying it was a necessary evil that had helped a badly divided Thailand stand up on its feet.

“In those days, Thailand was severely polarised, with both sides taking turns to oppose the other [governments]. Such a situation went on for a decade, stalling the country’s process and making Thais unhappy,” he said.

“Thailand became the sick man of Asia. Many of us may have already forgotten that,” the PM said, adding that he was well aware that the post-coup junta, known as the National Council for Peace and Order, would create a perception that the country was not democratic.

He claimed his junta had ensured liberty as best as it could and that he had exercised his special powers as the junta leader only when necessary.

“The justice system and independent organisations could still work independently, without my intervention,” he said.

General Prayut said that the main goal of the power seizure was to restore peace in Thailand and move it forward in order to revive the international community’s confidence in the country.

“You may have noticed that the Thai government later won acceptance from the international community. Our country welcomed more than 40 million visitors from overseas,” he said.

The prime minister was speaking when opening a panel discussion on “Better Thailand, Open Dialogue” held at the Siam Paragon shopping centre.

He mostly read from a prepared statement to a sparse audience. Many of the seats were unoccupied.

On May 22, 2014, Prayut, the then serving commander-in-chief of the Royal Thai Army, seized power in a coup, overthrowing an elected government led by premier Yingluck Shinawatra of the Pheu Thai Party. The coup came after months of paralysing street protests and sporadic violence against protesters.

Published : May 19, 2022