AFTER staying out of the spotlight for a week, Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha returned yesterday looking somewhat calmer.
Before presiding over the Cabinet meeting, he began the day by jokingly kicking a boxer who was visiting Government House to promote cultural campaigns.
Prayut then told reporters that he had been busy preparing for the “five rivers” meeting next Wednesday, as well as other events. The prime minister managed to retain his style of “elaborating”, but his voice seemed softer than usual.
That was until he was asked about the legitimacy of the charter-drafting process, especially the public acceptability of the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) members.
“If you don’t like how the country is now, then go back before May 22 [last year],” Prayut replied, referring to political clashes before the coup. “Could those conflicts solve political issues?” Prayut seemed to relax before raising his voice again. “It’s been long that I haven’t been this loud.”
In the course of the 40-minute press briefing, the PM managed to convey his disapproval of “limitless democracy and freedom”, referring to how Thailand suffered from a series of political conflicts. The government will also strive hard to solve previous problems and put everything in place, he insisted.
Prayut also announced his intention to make rarer public appearances, but stressed that he would still provide interviews on important issues.
“The PM has been fine with us,” said Government Spokesman Maj-General Sansern Kawekamnerd, who has been appointed to fill in when the PM is less inclined to assume his public role. “We haven’t had any problem speaking for him so far.”
The less frequent nature of Prayut‘s public appearances will not necessarily keep the government from getting its message across, however. The prime minister’s updates can still be tracked through his “Returning Happiness to the People” TV programme every Friday.
Observers believe his rare appearances are unlikely to obstruct news reports, as major procedures relating to the government, such as the charter drafting, are still only at the beginning.