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PM says govt ready to cooperate with the OIC

Posted by pakin On January - 13 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

PRIME MINISTER Prayut Chan-o-cha told Iyad Ameen Madani, secretary-general of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, yesterday that his government was willing to cooperate with the OIC on all matters with the exception of violence in the deep South.

Thailand has expertise in various fields such as healthcare, agriculture, food security and the halal industry, Government Spokesman Weerachon Sukhonthapatipak quoted Prayut as telling the OIC chief after the meeting.

Meanwhile, Madani praised the government for its efforts to solve the conflicts in the predominantly Muslim Southern region via political means and dialogue.

Prayut told Madani that his government had a dual-track strategy to promote development in the area as well as promote peace talks with the insurgents.

The peace process has three phases: building trust, creating a code of conduct to cut down on confrontations, and building a consensus around the road map to peace, Weerachon said.

Prayut told reporters before meeting the OIC chief that he was not aware that the Mara Patani group had met with Madani in Malaysia to discuss peace solutions for the deep South. The Mara Patani group surfaced to explore possibilities of peace negotiations with the government recently.

Thai authorities are struggling to contain violence in the deep South that flared up in 2004, claiming more than 5,000 lives since. The OIC has occasionally criticised previous Thai governments for their treatment of the Muslim minority in the South.

“I’ve already had principles in my head. Don’t talk to me if you don’t have any principles. We can’t manage the issue on our own,” Prayut said. “How many lives have been lost [because of the insurgency]? No amount of money is worth their lives.”

The two sides also discussed the issue of Rohingya people who have been trafficked to Thailand frequently over the past years. The government promised to tackle the problem at its root cause and will take human rights into account, Weerachon said.

PM wants to tackle root of problems

Posted by pakin On December - 25 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

PRIME MINISTER Prayut Chan-o-cha said yesterday he had staged a coup in the hope of bringing about true and effective national reform after the country had been riding a political roller-coaster for 83 years.

The PM made the remarks at the Government House while leading the five major agencies in reviewing the government’s one-year performance.

He said the main objective of the announcement was to make all agencies understand the root causes of the problems facing the country and what would be their short, medium and long-term solutions. He expected all conflicts to be resolved.

The PM said he would touch on topics for the future and not those of the past, which could be handled by the justice system.

Prayut said he would like to give the public some ideas about what his government would do for the remaining one year and six months from January next year till July 2017.

He said the situation facing the country was “not normal” because of external factors. “We are being watched by international organisations. There are groups that try to distort the truth. Everyone is demanding democracy, freedom and liberty. I ask if this is possible? We have been on this path for 83 years and faced many coups. So I want true reform for the future of our children,” he said.

To achieve reform objectives, the PM said the management of all ministries must be integrated. “We need to link and integrate every ministry’s activities. I have already come up with the plan,” he said.

The six sectors that must be reformed were: security, the economy, social sector, foreign affairs, administration, law and the justice system.

The reforms he envisioned aimed to strengthen the country’s economic structure, improve human life quality through a reformed social sector, move in a proactive manner in terms of foreign affairs, and focus on a top-down management of the country’s administration. To reform the justice system, the PM wanted to improve agencies that enforced the law.

Prayut said the government had completed its first stage of reform. It had lasted one year and had been met with heavy criticism and had failed to bring about real reform. “Many countries take many years to reform and have not completed their mission. We have [held office] so far for one year – but we are asked: what have we done?” Prayut said.

He said although the country’s economic indicators showed a negative picture, it was only fair to look at other countries around us and the world economy.

He said the government had mapped out a 20-year strategic reform plan and five-year economic development plans till 2036. “New governments taking over should continue these plans to create continuity. We are taking care of 70 million people and not just people in political parties,” he said.

Russel puts proviso on normal ties

Posted by pakin On December - 17 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

The top US envoy for East Asia, who “left a wound in Thais’ hearts” after his January trip, has told Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha the full normalisation of ties will only come after the “successful return of democracy”.

US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific affairs Daniel Russel’s remarks come in the wake of growing anti-American sentiment among Thai ultra-nationalists.

In a joint news conference after the 5th Thailand-United States Strategic Dialogue meeting, Mr Russel insisted the US acknowledges the government’s roadmap to democracy, but full-scale bilateral cooperation will return only with a civilian-led and democratic government.

“We [the US] wish to restore full engagement with Thailand when the country restores a civilian-led and democratic government,” Mr Russel said.

“I had a chance to share with him [Gen Prayut] some specific areas of our concerns. I also listened carefully to his description of the situation and his roadmap to democracy,” he said, referring to the meeting with Gen Prayut Wednesday.

During Mr Russel’s visit in January, he called for a “more inclusive political process” in Thailand after holding talks with both government officials and ousted premier Yingluck Shinawatra.

He sparked outrage when he said a vote by military-appointed lawmakers to impeach Ms Yingluck could be seen as political, which then deputy foreign minister Don Pramudwinai described “as a wound in Thais’ hearts”.

This time round, Mr Russel said he had shared “hope, woes and concerns” regarding the political situation in Thailand and prospect of improved US-Thai cooperation with Gen Prayut at Government House, after he gave the opening remarks at the dialogue meeting at the Foreign Ministry.

“We care deeply about our relationship with Thailand and will continue to work together in years to come,” Mr Russel said, adding that Thailand will remain a true friend, an important partner and ally.

Foreign Ministry permanent secretary Apichart Chinwanno described his talks with the senior US diplomat which lasted six hours at the ministry as a “frank discussion with a cordial atmosphere” and both sides affirmed they would boost cooperation.

“The partnership of Thailand and the United States will be further strengthened in the Asia-Pacific and beyond,” Mr Apichart said.

A joint statement was released after the meeting with pledges to promote peace, security and prosperity in both the Asia-Pacific and around the world. Thailand and the US will continue their defence cooperation, especially humanitarian assistance and peace keeping, for which Thailand has pledged to provide medical teams and experts to future United Nations peacekeeping missions.

During Mr Russel’s courtesy call at Government House, Gen Prayut told him the main objective of the administration is laying a strong democratic foundation, aiming to free the country from the cycle of political turmoil, according to the deputy government spokesman Werachon Sukhondhapatipak.

“The premier told Mr Russel that democracy is more than holding elections and he hoped the US will not use the same standard in engaging with countries which have different levels of development,” Maj Gen Werachon said.

Mr Russel, meanwhile, responded to Gen Prayut saying that the US understanding of Thai political developments has gradually improved, but some issues are still a concern, particularly freedom of expression, human rights and human trafficking.

“Gen Prayut assured Mr Russel that the government gives the media and public freedom to share their views but the views should not increase conflict in the country,” the deputy spokesman said.

Mr Russel kicked off his three-day visit to East Asia in Bangkok on Wednesday as American lawmakers and labour union activists are pressuring the US to penalise Thailand over alleged human slavery in various labour-intensive industries, especially fisheries and poultry.

US officials and rights activists have called on Americans to stop buying fish and shrimp tied to supply chains in Thailand, where the Associated Press claims to have found migrants forced to work in the seafood industry as modern-day slaves.

PM vows support for terror fight

Posted by pakin On November - 19 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

MANILA – Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is to pledge in a speech Thursday to join international efforts to fight cross-border terrorism and also vow to carry out domestic structural reform to support regional economic growth.

In a speech the prime minister is due to deliver at the 23rd Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) leaders’ summit, Gen Prayut will say he is saddened about the recent attacks in Paris and pledges to cooperate with the international community to counter terrorists.

“The Royal Thai Government and the Thai people strongly condemn this heinous act and stand with the international community to fight against terrorism,” he will say.

According to an Apec source, the leaders are planning to jointly condemn the deadly Paris and Beirut attacks and the recent bomb attack on a Russian passenger jet over the Sinai, in Egypt, which killed all 224 people on board.

In the initial draft declaration, the leaders were set to denounce the Paris attacks as a threat to their economies and call for united action to fight threat.

“Terrorism threatens our vision of free, open and prosperous economies and fundamental values that we hold. We stand in solidarity with the people of France [the Beirut bombing and Russian plane blast were added later] and all victims of terrorism elsewhere.

“These atrocities demand a united voice from the global community. We reaffirm our strong collective resolve to counter terrorism,” according to the draft which will be concluded Thursday before the summit ends.

On economic issues, Gen Prayut plans to say Thailand supports economic integration and building inclusive growth in the bloc, while also welcoming the conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact.

However, the premier urged Apec members to speed up a free-trade agreement for the Asia-Pacific, saying all economies can achieve free trade with strong political will, in spite of being at different stages of development.

Domestically, Gen Prayut says Thailand needs to reform its economy, aiming to better support Apec economic cooperation.

“My government is committed to structural reform in all areas, with priority given to three main areas, namely anti-corruption, SMEs and social protection,” he will tell his counterparts.

To support regional economic growth, Thailand has launched several projects, including the “Thailand Plus One” economic model, special economic zones and super cluster economic zones, a new project involving high technology and modern manufacturing sectors.

The premier will also extend support for human resources development, increasing the abilities of workers, and ensuring gender equality and equal opportunities for people with disabilities.

Gen Prayut on Wednesday held talks with his Papua New Guinea counterpart Peter O’Neill on the sidelines of the leaders’ meeting.

He thanked Mr O’Neill for his country’s support as an importer of Thai rice and agreed the two countries should expand  cooperation, said Thai government deputy spokesman Maj Gen Werachon Sukondhapatipak.

Gen Prayut assured Mr O’Neill of the quality of Thai rice while the Papua New Guinea premier asked Thailand to provide experts to help his country develop rice farming. The leaders looked forward to closer cooperation on rice and fishing.

Papua New Guinea has abundant marine resources while Thailand has expertise in fishing, so cooperation in this field will benefit both countries, Maj Gen Werachon said.

The Thai premier also met Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos. Gen Prayut said Bangkok sees Bogota as a key economic partner which can be a “bridge linking Thailand with other Latin American countries”, Maj Gen Werachon said.

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