On 17 Oct 2018, Gen Apirat Kongsompong, Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Army, gave an interview on the political situation where he insisted that neutrality depends on people’s views, and he is confident that he is neutral. While a question the Commander-in-Chief is often asked is whether the current situation would lead to a coup or not, the Commander-in-Chief asked what would have happened to the country if on that day, Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha had not made a decision. He had great hopes that violence would not happen again in Thailand because the military would never defeat the people, while the people came out to set houses on fire or set off explosions. That is what makes the country lose.
“I am confident that if politics is not a reason for riots, then nothing will happen,” the Command-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Army said.
‘Those who defame the Institution, if they are not crazy, have to seek asylum.’
To a question about his role in protecting the monarchy, Gen Apirat stressed that the army is the servant of the monarchy, out of both its duty and its respect. The army will protect the monarchy to the utmost of its ability. Lèse-majesté many times occurred because people were mentally abnormal. Others were normal but had strange thoughts and could not stay in the country and had to flee to other countries.
“The people who commit lèse-majesté are mostly mentally abnormal. The people who are normal just have strange thoughts but they cannot stay in Thailand. They have to flee abroad because they can’t stay in Thailand. In our country we have lived under royal protection since the times of our grandparents. Why don’t they realise the debt they have to the country of their birth? There is no one who doesn’t love the country of their birth. The government changes but the monarch has to be with Thailand forever. This is the duty of the army, and I will protect the monarchy with everything that I have,” Gen Apirat said. (Sources: Voice TV and Khaosod)
Turning back to answers by Commanders-in-Chief about coups
Early last year, the Washington Post published an analysis “Where, of all the countries in the world, are coups most likely to occur in 2017?” and Thailand was ranked 2nd, behind Burundi, as the country where a coup is most likely to occur. 3rd was the Central African Republic, 4th Chad and 5th Turkey. At that time (2 Feb 2017), Gen Chalermchai Sitthisart, then Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Army, asked, so does the media believe it? Westerners can talk. The Thai people have brains; we are the ones here in the area. We know what is what and for this matter I already talked about it on 3 Oct 2016, on the day that I announced my policy to the army when I took up the position of Commander, and I said there won’t be one.
Chalermchai insists “there won’t be one”
When we turn back to 3 Oct this year, Gen Chalermchai said that, if we talk about a coup, then we must ask for what purpose, since in the current situation, we can’t stage a coup. Also, Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, the Prime Minister and NCPO chief, already said that the last coup was the last one and wouldn’t have happened if the people didn’t agree. We can see that in the last 2 coups, the military has become involved in politics and their control of the situation has received an overwhelming response from the people. He said that he is a professional soldier. Whatever the commander says, goes. There aren’t any problems and no one has to worry about a coup because he guarantees that there won’t be one. “A double coup is impossible and won’t happen. I want to erase these words. Don’t worry. Whatever happens is up to the majority of the people in the country. If the government rules with virtue, nothing can happen. I want everyone to forget about a coup and don’t ask me again,” Gen Chalermchai said. (Source: Manager Online)
Teerachai smiles, but doesn’t answer
On 30 Sept 2015 after the Commander-in-Chief transition ceremony, Gen Teerachai Nakwanich, the then new Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Army, answered the question whether there was going to be a coup during his term. Gen Teerachai only smiled without saying anything before immediately returning to the Royal Thai Army headquarters. (Source: Manager Online)
Udomdej affirms that there definitely won’t be one
On 8 June 2015, Gen Udomdej Sitabutr, then Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Army and Minister of Defence, answered a question about rumours concerning another coup after news concerning the monarchy. Gen Udomdej said that there definitely wouldn’t be one. The army was still sticking to the government’s policy and the Prime Minister. Everything was going according to his wish to make the country stable. Organisations under the government were also cooperating well. The army was fully ready to help the government and the Prime Minister. (Source: Bangkokbiznews)
Prayut gave answers that started as chaotic to a question that can’t be answered.
Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister and Head of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), when he was still the Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Army, talked of matters concerning coups at least 10 times in interviews. The first time was on 8 Oct 2013 when there was a movement to push forward the Amnesty Bill. Gen Prayut said not to demand that the military come out. If they come out, it’ll be chaotic. Up till 20 May 2014, the day Martial Law was enforced throughout the country, he said in interviews that a coup is a question that can’t be answered. Two days later, the NCPO announced it was taking over from the acting government at that time and it has been in power for more than 4 years.
28 Oct 2013 – Don’t demand that the military come out. If they come out, it’ll be chaotic. (In response to the media, on concerns about the Amnesty Bill.)
4 Nov 2013 – Every time the military comes out, they come out under a legal order, not when they want to. (In answering the question whether the military come out if the protests against the Amnesty Bill continued to drag on.)
8 Dec 2013 – If the military carries out a reform (coup) again and solves the issue the wrong way, other problems will recur. How will Thailand stand among the world community then? (Confirming that no matter happens at the People's Democratic Reform Committee’s major protest on 9 Dec 2013, the military will not come out.)
7 Jan 2014 – Rumours are news that isn’t true. So don’t believe them. (Denying rumours that military movements at that time were for a coup.)
22 Jan 2014 – Today we have to abide by the rules. We cannot do anything outside the rules because the armed forces carry weapons. (In response to the government announcement enforcing the Emergency Degree in Bangkok and surrounding areas.)
24 Feb 2014 – What the military is doing right now must abide by the constitutional law. (Reading a statement on the position of the army towards the political situation on Channel 5, the Royal Thai Army Radio and Television Station)
25 March 2014 – By what rules would I become Prime Minister? (A question back to Nattawut Saikua, who stated that Gen Prayut is also one of the candidates to become a compromise Prime Minister)
9 April 2014 – The military’s position right now is to not side with those that break the law. (In response to a speech by Suthep Thaugsuban, Secretary-General of the PDRC, on sovereignty.)
10 May 2014 –The military should be kept as a last resort. I believe that a coup wouldn’t end anything. (Leaving a message on the show Lab Luang Prang, insisting that the army has to be resolute and cannot act according to others’ demands.)
20 May 2014 – A coup d’état is a question that cannot be answered. (As Director of the Peace and Order Maintaining Command, in answer to a question on the concept of appointing a Prime Minister under Article 7 after the declaration of Martial Law.)
Anupong insists that there definitely won’t be one
On 27 Dec 2009 Gen Anupong Paochinda, then Commander-in-Chief, answered a question about whether it is possible to close the door on coups d’état. If next year something occurs and blood is shed, Gen Anupong said “if I issue an order that is wrong, I think they wouldn’t follow it. The military doesn’t take sides. Anything that allows the country to continue moving forward and exist. Thai people cannot fight each other. The military won’t allow that to happen. At the same time, don’t do anything illegal because we can’t live like that. I will confirm that next year there won’t be any bloodshed and definitely no coup. We have many other ways to solve the issues of the nation and I think that most people wouldn’t consent. I believe that no one would. I won’t let it reach that point. I believe that. Anyone who thinks that there will be a coup can forget it. I think there’s no way.” (Source: Prachatai)
Sonthi ‘There probably won’t be one.’
“There probably won’t be one. We have to be resolute. Don’t believe these trends that will diminish our unity.” Gen Sonthi Boonyaratglin answered a question on rumours of a coup before a real coup occurred later (19 Sept 2006).
On 25 Nov 2005, Gen Sonthi also said not to be worried about a coup since a coup would cause damage to the country.
Many years after Gen Sonthi left power , Maj. Gen. Sanan Khachonprasat asked him a question on 21 March 2012 about who was behind the coup on 19 Sept 2006. Gen Sonthi answered “Some questions cannot be answered even after death”. (Source: