By THE NATION
He went to the cave yesterday morning to meet the families of the Mu Pa Academy football team members who have been missing in the flooded cave since last Saturday.
Prayut told the parents and other family members, who were in a tent near the cave’s entrance, that he conveyed concerns from His Majesty the King.
“I ask everyone to have hopes and be confident the boys will be safe. The officials will be able to help all of them,” Prayut told the family members. “The 13 boys are like my children. We are the same family. All the Thai people and I are in the same family.”
Some of the family members wept while Prayut was speaking to them, and a mother was heard telling him: “Please help my son.”
Prayut said the large-scale rescue operation pointed to the kindness of strangers from all over Thailand and from other countries who had come to help without hoping for anything in return.
“I come here to offer encouragement. The purpose is not about politics or election campaigning,” Prayut said.
He also had a simple lunch with the missing youngsters’ family members before leaving the rescue site.
During the visit, he told reporters that restrictions on their movements at the site were necessary to avoid complicating the rescue operation. He said order was necessary as the operation was being covered by media from all over the world.
“All of you should help, no matter when, even after the election. There will certainly be an election,” Prayut said.
There was a heavy security presence during the PM’s visit. Prayut was accompanied by Interior Minister General Anupong Paochinda and Royal Thai Army commander-in-chief General Chalermchai Sitthisart.
Some local officials complained that the presence of senior officers and high-ranking government figures from Bangkok at the rescue site had made their work more difficult.
Meanwhile, deputy national police chief Pol General Srivara Rangsibrahmanakul came under criticism from social media users yesterday after he was seen in a video clip telling a police search team to show him their drone in operation.
In the video clip, posted on social media and news sites and believed to have been taken during his tour of the rescue site, Srivara was heard saying: “Where is the drone? Let me see it. Do you want your boss to walk to you? Make it fly to me so I can see it.”
It was unclear when the video was recorded.
Many social media users also criticised Srivara for distracting a rescue team boring holes at the cave in their attempts to save the missing youngsters. His grilling of a junior official was recorded in another video clip.