News / Asia

Thai Junta Asks Diplomats to Soften Coup’s Image Abroad

FILE - Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha speaks at the start of his first press conference since Thursday's coup, May 26, 2014.
FILE - Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha speaks at the start of his first press conference since Thursday's coup, May 26, 2014.
The leader of Thailand’s junta gave instructions Wednesday to some of the country’s top diplomats to seek international understanding for the coup he carried out last month. Meanwhile, a delegation of military commanders has been dispatched to Beijing for a conference with high-level Chinese army officials.

General Prayuth Chan-ocha, who now holds all executive and legislative power in Thailand, met at army headquarters Wednesday with 23 of the country’s ambassadors and general consuls deployed in 21 countries.

The General, according to spokespersons for the junta and the foreign ministry, told the diplomats that they have a duty to create international understanding about the May 22 coup and he “would like ambassadors and government officials to help explain formally and informally.”

Kyoto University associate professor Pavin Chachavalpongpun asserts Thailand’s diplomats also have been given more ominous orders from the military.

“There is a conflicting policy of using these ambassadors, consul generals to put pressure on the host countries to try to shut up critics of the coup who live overseas, be they political activists or academics like myself, even to the point of trying to use their influence to force the host country to deport these people,” Pavin said.

Pavin calls the decrees targeting freedom of academic and other types of expression a violation of “basic human rights.”

Since the May 22 coup and the establishment of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to run the country, several hundred people have been detained. They include politicians, activists, academics and journalists. Many have been released after being interrogated and held incommunicado for a week or two in military camps.

Some have defied summons, which continue to be issued, to turn themselves in. Among them are some Thais living outside the country, including Pavin in Japan.

As the general met with the country’s diplomats, a delegation of Thai military commanders were on their way to China. They are to discuss with top-level Chinese army officials regional security and future joint training exercises.

The two countries have conducted joint exercises in the past.

The top representative at the conference for China is expected to be Lt. Gen. Wang Guanzhong, deputy chief of the general staff of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

The Thai junta says China has been supportive of the coup carried out by the army chief.
Thailand’s deputy permanent secretary for defense, General Surasak Kanjanarat, said the meetings in Beijing will map out "future plans of action" with the PLA.

A move to strengthen ties between Bangkok and Beijing comes after Western nations, including the United States, a long-time ally of Thailand, have been critical of the May 22 coup. The U.S. military ceased training maneuvers with Thailand’s forces in response to the coup.

Professor Pavin in Japan says due to their geographical proximity and burgeoning economic ties, the post-coup mutual embrace between Thailand and China is pragmatic and a win-win situation.

“The pressure from Western countries - (especially) the United States and Australia - could have played a role in pushing Thailand a little bit closer to China and knowing that there would be a lot of interest in doing so, anyway,” Pavin said.

Bilateral trade is expected to top 100 billion dollars next year, with China already Thailand’s largest trading partner.

The junta in Bangkok says China is among several countries which have expressed understanding of the reasons for last month’s military takeover.
General Prayuth has expressed a need to return "happiness" to the Thai people after a long and unsettling period of political chaos.

A junta spokesman, in a VOA interview subsequent to the coup, said a primary goal for the overthrow of the civilian caretaker government is to permanently eradicate the influence from politics of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. He was deposed in a 2006 coup but the party he backed won the 2011 election and Thaksin’s sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, later became prime minister.

Parties backed by the wealthy family have won every national election in Thailand since 2001, primarily due to support at the ballot box from the northern rural poor.

Steve Herman

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

You May Like

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

China to Open Stock Markets to Pension Funds

In unprecedented move, government to soon allow local pension funds to invest up to $94 billion in domestic shares More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs