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Army chief’s attempt to shut down election talk of budget cuts backfires

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Army chief’s attempt to shut down election talk of budget cuts backfires

By Jitraporn Sennawong, Nattaphat Phromkaew 
The Nation

 

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The Army chief’s attempt to scare politicians off discussing the Army budget and reform by indirectly calling them “enemies of the state” has instead backfired, as many Thais have emerged with additional proposals for reforms of the military, and others are protesting the chief’s invocation of the farrightist anthem.

 

 Critics yesterday largely chorused in agreement that the Army, which often intervenes in politics, deserves a budget reduction and reform. Social activist Veera Somkwamkid wrote on his Facebook page that he agreed with the policy proposal to cut the defence budget. It is a source from which highranked officers could unlawfully seek benefits, the critic explained.

 

“The cut should not affect ordinary military officers because we’re not cutting their salary,” Veera said, adding that the surplus from the cut could be allocated to other areas such as public health and education.

 

Junta critic and leader of Seree Ruam Thai party Sereepisuth Temeeyaves yesterday said his party also proposed to reduce the size of the Army and would reallocate the funds to improve the quality of people’s life. “The Army is part of the problem facing the country, especially in the past five years since the coup. If I get a chance to run the country, I will abolish conscription and disband the unnecessary units including their headquarters and the court. We’re not in wars. These are not necessary,” he told an election rally in Prachuap Khiri Khan.

 

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Student activist Parit Chiwarak

 

Seree Ruam Thai party joins Pheu Thai Party, Democrat Party, Future Forward Party in calling for an examination of the military budget. The criticism came after Army chief General Apirat Kongsompong told politicians to listen to the anthem “Nak Paendin” (“worthless”) if they were planning to reduce the defence budget or nullify conscription. “Nak Paendin” was part of the grand propaganda in 1970s against the communist movement.

 

The lyrics labelled leftists as enemies of the state that needed to be eliminated. A favourite of ultranationalists, it is viewed by many others as hatefilled and divisive. Following heavy public criticism concerning both the need for Army reform and the Army’s chief’s aggressive reaction, a military spokesman yesterday came out to defend its controversial budget.

 

While the public appears sceptical of the relations between the militarybacked government and the rising defence budget, the spokesman LtGeneral Kongcheep Tantravanich said the allocation was proportionate. The budget rise (from Bt183 billion before the 2014 coup to Bt227 billion this year) was also proportionate to the national budget’s overall increase, he said. In fact, he insisted, it had been reduced by some 5 per cent in relative terms. A budget cut would affect numerous security units and their work, including disaster relief units, he said.

 

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The Army sees its responsibility as not limited only to war. In response to criticism about the military intervention in politics, Kongcheep said it was difficult to explain. However, if the people had not wanted it, the intervention could not have taken place, he said.

 

In a related development, a couple of the prodemocracy protesters led by student activist Parit Chiwarak also protested in front of the Royal Thai Army Headquarter against Apirat’s invocation of the song.

 

They called on Apirat to revoke the order to play the controversial song in the military barracks across the country, saying that the anthem only incite hatred and violence. It is said that in the massacre on October 6, 1976, the farright played the song as they launched a crackdown on students at Thammasat University.

 

 

Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/breakingnews/30364495

 

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-- © Copyright The Nation 2019-02-21

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37 minutes ago, Accidental Tourist said:

Its all reminds of the Nazis in 1930 Germany. Hope is not the writing on the wall.

Sadly it reminds me of Pol Pot from next door.......

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Churchill was right in 1945, we should of kicked the B-jesus out of the Tin pot military government in Thailand, Pro Fascist, Pro Hitler and pro Japanese. Would of done them the world of good all those Chindits from Burma coming down and showing them a real fighting army..... but as usual they sidled away and avoided a well deserved kick up the chuff, courtesy of the U.S.A.........  Thanks for that.......

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2 minutes ago, SupermarineS6B said:

My pleasure.....

I meant the whole army...polititians...reducing the budget...thingy!

Fun in a very scary way, that is!

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11 hours ago, Fex Bluse said:

I try to be particularly upset with the current government, but, from my perspective, all Thai leadership is corrupt and incompetent. All.

 

So, it's easier to criticize them all. 

 

I have never read about an even reasonably competent Thai government in the last 100 years. 

 

Thais have exactly zero decent choices. The best they can do is try to vote for whichever corruption benefits them at the expense of some other groups. 

 

I agree wholeheartedly (99.5%). The only government I have any respect for in the last 100 years is that of Kukrit Pramoj, which predictably only lasted for a little over a year before others (led by his brother) took over again. If you have any doubts, look at his policies. 

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The army 100% & in the main most politicians are corrupt to a point, just vying for a crack at the trough.

As yet I haven't seen one party with true transparency who will work for the people of Thailand.

End the military interventions, resolve to help the poor by decreasing the wealth gap.

And have a policy of anti-corruption and end graft !

 

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