The following is the statement by Gen. Prayuth Chan-cha on Monday morning after the King appointed him as the head of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO). This is an unofficial translation by Prachatai.
I appreciate HM the King’s mercy. I’ll do my best after this. Getting the royal endorsement is the way in which I follow the custom which has been the practice, both in normal times and during crisis. This is an administration under the royal command and which follows the law. From now on, I will be more careful in exercising the law.
The Head of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), that is myself, has full power as announced earlier. The Supreme Commander and chiefs of the other forces are overseeing the administration of the ministries in the first phase. Concerned state agencies have been ordered to review their operation plans.
Prayuth addresses his plan after coup to media on Monday morning after receiving the royal endorsement. Photo courtesy of Matichon.co.th
There are two levels of administration. The permanent secretaries are acting ministers. All the work under the acting posts must be checked and approved by an assigned committee. Any task which is beyond their authority must be forwarded to the Head of the NCPO for approval. This is to follow the old rules because I am the one who has absolute administrative power. I try not to avoid using the old rules. All the concerned state agencies are moving forward in their duties. Don’t worry because we have seven coordinating teams within the NCPO which are composed of the police, the military and civilians. They work together to ensure transparency. If an issue has no effect, there’s no need to review it, but detailed reviews will be speeded up in order to bring about achievement for everybody.
The most important task is maintaining law and order in the country. [The NCPO] has prepared laws related to several issues to support all kind of operations for now and in the future. A procedure for reform will be established in order to solve all conflicts. There will be a new legislative procedure for solving the country’s problems so that the country can move forward in a stable manner, without conflict.
The enforcement of all laws is still strict as before and may be even stricter if there is violence, resistance or stubbornness. But if the situation resolves itself rapidly, the measures will be gradually eased. [The NCPO] does not want there to be problems in carrying on business in any sector.
Regarding the curfew, if there is an urgent matter, it is possible to notify the authorities. We have prepared all sectors, such as transportation and fuel transportation. We have had a meeting and assigned responsibilities. People who need to [travel after the curfew], like doctors who have to treat people or go to the hospital, can notify the state agencies. Employees who work shifts can also notify them. If you have an urgent matter, please notify us. We will control and take care of people who break the law, use weapons of war, resist, or do anything which affects law and order.
Regarding summons to report to the NCPO, I, Gen Prayuth, declare that this is to create understanding and calm because at this time the conflict cannot go on as before. And this conflict has also had an effect on the security and resources of the country and an effect on the economy. I repeat that if the situation resolves itself, we will ease up.
The country has problems. We have to stop them. I don’t aim to seize power. I don’t aim to take advantage, but there is a reason and necessity as mentioned before. So I’d like to ask for cooperation from the people. Please understand. I don’t intend to be in conflict with any group. I understand the democratic process very well. But as this process cannot solve the conflict, and there is a legal deadlock, followed by violence, we cannot use the correct democratic process. We have to.
I, Gen Prayuth, declare that the military and police understand very well and we have several lessons from the past which can be used to prevent problems from happening in the future. I will have all sectors in society understand the necessity of solving the problems of the NCPO at this time.
We have established working groups to tackle the most urgent tasks. The NPOC secretariat will work alongside the Permanent Secretary of the PM’s Office to continue the work it is currently charged with doing. And military chiefs have been assigned to oversee the work of state agencies. They will be supported by advisory bodies comprised of experts. Each sector will have the necessary support to ensure that it can operate effectively to fulfill
its plan.We insist that the structures being put in place are not entirely military ones, but will depend on the cooperation of other sectors as well.
The first priority is to resolve past and current conflicts, and to avoid future problems. Immediate priorities include ensuring that payments to farmers under the existing rice pledging scheme are made promptly and fairly, to be followed by measures to support rice production in the future. However, the army cannot carry the complete burden for solving all future problems; the cooperation of government officials at all levels will be needed to ensure that people throughout the country are satisfied, and that the country remains peaceful and secure. We ask that people do not make too many demands. We must deal with the legacy of the past in order to achieve absolute democracy. That means that we need to review and revise all those processes of governance and management which have become dysfunctional.
Protests and rallies will just lead us back to the same old situation, and if that happens, we will apply the force of law. Please be aware that from now on many kinds of action will be tried in the military courts - offences like lese majeste, where the law is very clear.
There must be no more criticism of soldiers or the police, Everyone is obliged to contribute to national security and to start following the law. When everyone disrespects the law and has no respect for officials, it has impacts at the political level, the administrative level, and in transparency.
I don’t want to argue with anyone, I just want to make my clear intentions clear. I can achieve everything as long as the people are satisfied to help me. Don’t criticise or create new problems, it's useless.
Regarding those already detained, processing will take 5-7 days. It will give them a chance to taste how soldiers live: This is the best accommodation the army has. If you are summoned and you resist, your financial assets will be seized and you will be arrested and court martialled. Those who we release will be kept under close surveillance. If they still incite unrest again they will be summoned again. You will need to be as patient as we have been. For nine years we have witnessed conflicts that have damaged the nation. Now we will bring back happiness to the Thai people and the country, take care of foreigners, and establish social, economic and psychological stability.
This is the transcript of the Q&A session which lasted less than three minutes.
Reporter 1: Will there be a Prime Minister or will you be the Prime Minister yourself?
Prayuth: Why are you asking something far away in the future? It is already in the plan. There must be a Prime Minister.
Reporter 1: You mean there is going to be an interim Prime Minister? as well as other interim cabinet members?
Prayuth: How can we not have cabinet members and only have the prime minister? Is that possible?
You can look in the past. There’s a method [used in the past]. Somethings will be similar, somethings will be not. In order to create legitimacy, the use of power must be very careful. The more power you have, the smaller you should be. I don’t think that having power can do anything.
Reporter 2: Will there be an interim cabinet soon in order that the country can move forward?
Prayuth: The country has moved forward for several days, since May 22 since the change in the administration by me.
Reporter 2: I meant after this will there be a National Legislative Assembly?
Prayuth: I have already said. Why don’t you listen!
Reporter 2: I listened. But when?
Prayuth: You have to look at my answer in previous question.
Reporter2: You mean there will be the NLA soon? . . .
Reporter2: So that we’ll have an election soon?
Prayuth: Take a look at my answer in previous question. I have answered all that.
Reporter 1: Will you be the Prime Minister yourself?
Prayuth: It’s still in the process. I don’t know. You have to wait and see. Be patient. Would you like to be [the Prime Minister]? (pointing at the reporter)
The audience laughed. Other reporters tried to ask more questions.
Prayuth: That’s enough.
Reporter 3: How long before we have an election?
Prayuth: Until the situation is over. . .
Reporter 3: No. Your answer is not clear of how long . . .
Prayuth: It depends on the situation. I don’t have the deadline.
Reporter 3: Half a year? 1 year?
Prayuth: Depends on the situation. No deadline. That’s enough.
Prayuth then walked out of the conference room.