Prayut warns Pita: Soldiers and police are against amending Article 112
Outgoing Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha appears to be having a hard time moving on from his crushing election loss. On Wednesday, he warned the party that won the most seats in May 14 vote – Move Forward – against amending Article 112 of the Criminal Code, also known as the lese majeste law.
Soldiers, police and many more Thais do not agree with the Move Forward’s plan to amend Article 112, Prayut told reporters after a National Defence Council meeting at the Defence Ministry.
Prayut is also the outgoing defence minister.
When asked if he was against amending Article 112, Prayut said: “Of course.”
“It has to be that way. It is in the heart of soldiers, police, civil servants, and many people,” he added. “They don’t agree and they wonder why [Move Forward would amend it.]”
Move Forward promised during the election campaign that it would amend Article 112 so the crime could no longer be used as a political tool.
But after Move Forward won the May 14 election, it left amending Article 112 out of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) it signed with the seven other parties that are part of its coalition. Move Forward will seek to amend Article 112 on its own, the MoU states.
Move Forward also vowed to reduce the size of the military and end mandatory conscription.
Prayut told reporters that the military has its own reform plans.
“To change the armed forces, one must also take the context of Thailand into account. Thailand is not like other nations. It wouldn’t be appropriate to use a model of other countries to reform our military,” explained Prayut.
He led a coup in 2014 and has run Thailand ever since.
He said the National Defence Council meeting was routine and did not discuss the outcome of the election.
He conceded that the eight-party coalition had a right to form committees to handle the transition of power, Prayut said, but added a condition: The work of the committees should not affect the work of government agencies.
Move Forward leader Pita Limjaroenrat has been meeting with leaders of key business associations since his party won the May 14 election.
Prayut previously said it was inappropriate for Pita to seek information from government agencies because the general remains prime minister.
Pita responded by saying some government agencies provide information to him on their own initiative.
Prayut said on Wednesday that he had asked key government agencies about this and none said they had contacted or provided information to Pita on their own initiative.