By THE NATION
Key destinations like Mae Sariang and Pai should have proper infrastructure developed first in the northern border province, which receives three Nok Air flights a week, Prayut said during his visit there yesterday.
Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said yesterday that Nok Air expected to operate up to four flights a week from Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son. Direct flights from Bangkok to Mae Hong Son have also been discussed although currently considered impractical by airline operators.
The airport in Pai district should also be opened for smaller planes.
He said provincial railway transport in the province would also be studied based on feasibility, he said.
During a meeting with local residents, Prayut defended his trip to the area, saying it was not meant as political campaigning for the junta-led government ahead of the upcoming general election.
“I come here as a brother of yours. I don’t come here for political purposes,” Prayut told the locals.
“I just want to meet you as you are like my family. And that’s also the feeling of all my deputies and ministers,” the PM said in his speech.
The one-day trip to Mae Hong Son was Prayut’s first field visit in 2018. Last year, he had made several visits to the provinces, where approvals for multi-billion-baht development projects were made during mobile Cabinet meetings.
The prime minister has insisted that it is a way to keep in touch with local people and authorities. However, critics viewed it as an attempt by Prayut to politically gain the upper hand while the ruling junta maintained its ban on political activities.
Prayut yesterday also tried to clarify his term “Thai Niyom”, or “Thai-ism”, that he had used last week to define Thai democracy.
While the idea was perceived as an attempt to introduce a new kind of democracy, Prayut explained that “Thai Niyom” is actually a “top-down steering administration” that should correspond to all people’s needs.
“We have to stick to Pracharat, reconciliation and agreement of truth to realise this Thai Niyom”, Prayut said, addressing the three agendas of his government.
While the Pracharat scheme is meant to convey cooperation among government, private and civil society sectors, reconciliation is supposed to be created among all sides, including political elements, through the military-formulated “agreement of truth”.