News / Asia

Thailand Army Chief Now Prime Minister

  • Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha speaks after he accepted a royal command issued by King Bhumibol Adulyadej certifying his appointment as the country's 29th premier in Bangkok, Aug. 25, 2014.
  • A soldier stands guard during the royal endorsement ceremony of Thailand's newly appointed Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, at the Royal Army headquarters in Bangkok, Aug. 25, 2014.
  • Workers trim bushes in preparation for the new cabinet at the Government House in Bangkok, Aug. 25, 2014.
  • Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha opens a container before he accepts a royal endorsement certifying his appointment as the country's 29th premier, in front of the portrait of King Bhumibol Adulyadej in Bangkok, Aug. 25, 2014.
Thailand Army Chief Now Prime Minister

The army general who led the May 22 coup in Thailand officially assumed the post as the kingdom’s prime minister Monday.

General Prayuth Chan-ocha bowed before a large photograph of King Bhumibol Adulyadej just after the reading of a palace decree naming him the kingdom’s 29th prime minister.

The acting secretary-general of the national legislative assembly, Norarat Pimsen, proclaimed the royal assent, stating, “His Majesty the King has endorsed General Prayuth Chan-ocha as prime minister to govern the country from this day forward.”

The general, over a span of three months, has imposed martial law, deposed the civilian government and appointed a legislature filled with military officers that unanimously selected him to become prime minister.

General Prayuth, immediately following Monday’s brief ceremony at Army headquarters, vowed to submit his selections for his cabinet in October for royal approval.

General Prayuth, still dressed in his formal white army uniform, speaking for the first time as prime minister said Thailand is confronted by many problems. He notes these need to be solved ahead of the realization next year of the ASEAN Economic Community, in which Thailand, as the region’s second-largest economy, is expected to play a leading role.

The 60-year-old general, who is due to retire from the army next month, is the first coup leader to serve as prime minister since 1957.

General Prayuth was also a key figure in the coup in 2006 that ousted then-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the billionaire telecommunications tycoon whose political parties have won every national election for more than a decade.

His younger sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, was forced from office shortly before this year’s coup after an extended period of political turmoil.

Officials of the junta, known as the National Council for Peace and Order, say General Prayuth wants to permanently eradicate the influence of the Shinawatra clan.

Thailand has been polarized between the mainly urban royalist elite and middle class who are strongly opposed to the Shinawatras and their main backers, who are mostly the rural poor.

With Thailand still under martial law, giving authorities broad powers to round up dissenters for interrogation, opposition to the junta has been effectively squelched inside the country.

Thai critics abroad, most of whom are now considered fugitives by the military government, have condemned General Prayuth's actions as an illegal power grab.

The coup has also been criticized by Western governments, which are urging a quick return to democracy.

The army chief has pledged to create a “Thai-style” democracy, which he contends “will return happiness to the people.”

The reform process, to be followed by elections, he has said will take at least one year.

In his seven-minute address Monday the general reiterated a call for qualified people to join the national reform council the junta is establishing. The new prime minister says he wants members from political and civic groups, economists, academics, civil servants and the media, among others.

General Prayuth declared, “I do not want anyone to be left behind in the democratic process.”


Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: notdisappointed from: Bangkok, Thailand
September 05, 2014 12:02 AM
Reuters and VOA the mouthpieces of Western capitalism and Wall Street still get their facts wrong with their half-truths and prevarications.

Firstly it's not a "white military uniform", but a formal dress uniform for Government officials. By reiterating well-worn cliches and unsubstantiated hearsay about "protest by royalist establishment supporters" and "urban royalist elites and middle-class against the rural poor" and populist thaksin and his surrogates, these two biased and racially predjudiced reports harm rather than tell the truth.

thaksin's and his ilk bought his votes through fiscally irresponsible populist programs that were ill-plannned, poorly executed, and a drain to the tresury of the country. What people need is a more balanced reporting not one skewed to the establishment line of the Carlyle Group, Wall Street, and Western idealism.

Here's a couple of examples of 'forgotten' facts by Western journalists and VOA: what about the recent loss to the Thai tresury of Baht600Billion and the disappearance of 3,000,000 tons of 'populist' yingluck rice scheme. Or how about the graft seen in the construction of the International airport under thaksin regime of over Baht25Billion? What about truning the Thai democray to a 'kleptocracy' and democratic/parliamnetary dictatorship as can be seen in Cambodia? In the view of idealistics Western mindset - as long as it comes from elections, theft by government is legal and legitimate?

Let's have more balanced reporting please!

by: sonthi from: Bangkok
August 25, 2014 5:42 PM
Welcome to Tyrland
Land of Coup

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs