From a report by the National News Bureau of Thailand, part of the Public Relations Department (stop giggling there, of course news is subordinate to PR):
‘Thailand’s Army Chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha has asked the public to stop making comments or criticisms about the controversial bomb detector GT200 procurement.’
This is clearly in the national interest since any comments or criticisms about a case where the seller has been found guilty and sentenced to 10 years in a UK prison would not be at all helpful in allowing the purchasers escape investigation and prosecution in Thailand.
The NNT’s report then delivers this nugget of military intelligence:
‘He added that the army has already stopped using the devices for 2-3 years. However, he admitted that some military personnel still use them since there is no other alternative instrument.’
Unfortunately the NNT report stops there and fails to demonstrate clearly that this is no singular aberration of faulty logic but is in fact normal military thinking. This can be seen in the General’s comments on other matters where the military is trying to get away with more than the public are prepared to accept. If they were allowed to make comments or criticisms, of course.
Fortunately, Prachatai has obtained from an unimpeachable source (and for a very reasonable fee) a complete transcript of the NNT interview with Gen Prayuth. This shows a mastery of military ‘now you see it, now you don’t’ explanations of uncomfortable facts:
Asked about negative public reaction to recent videos showing gross physical and verbal abuse of conscripts in the Thai army, Gen Prayuth criticized the dissemination of such material as an unwarranted denigration of the superb training methods employed in the Thai military. He also urged the media and public to publish any other evidence of abuse against conscripts.
The General added ‘Besides, we long ago stopped using such methods as are seen in the video clips, ever since I ordered a stop to it last week. However, some trainers continue to assault, harass and humiliate conscripts because there are no alternative methods available.’
When questioned about the problems with the Army’s ill-fated airship that was supposed to be used in dealing with the insurgency on the South, Gen Prayuth said that the difficulties were well known. After all this time, it was clear that the airship was not fit for deployment and he had ordered it grounded indefinitely. However, the ground crew were still stuffing the holes in the fabric with banknotes because there was no other way of plugging the leaks.
Regarding the series of inquests that have repeatedly found that military personnel were responsible for the deaths of civilians in the protests of April and May 2010, General Prayuth accepted the findings of the courts. ‘We have to uphold the rule of law,’ he said.
Asked if this meant that the troops responsible would face prosecution, the General was taken aback. ‘But we said at the time, and the civilian government agreed with us, that our soldiers didn’t kill anyone. How can we be prosecuted for something we didn’t do?’
In a final question, the General was asked why his statements were so self-contradictory, reaching conclusions that were completely at odds with the evidence. The General replied that his statements were always perfectly logical but that sometimes he had to say things that didn’t follow so that they would make sense.