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

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' 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.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs