General Prem Tinsulanonda, as president of the king’s Privy Council, was critical for the planning and success of the 2006 military coup. That coup was illegal, trashed a constitution and led to events that saw, amongst other things, royalist regimes implementing massive censorship, hundreds of political prisoners incarcerated, and almost 1oo deaths and several thousand injuries.
Prem’s role in getting the coup underway is recounted in a Wikileaks cable.
At Bangkok Post it is reported that Prem, who should now be in his dotage, gets his usual new year visit from the military brass who acknowledge Prem’s extra-legal influence on politics and the military.
Prem usually says a few things to his acolytes when they show up, and allows these to be reported as a tidbit for the media. In this case, he appears to come over all Thaksinish, whispering that “[r]econciliation is the means to move the country forward…”. Naturally, reconciliation has several meanings but the Puea Thai government will draw some succor from this sentence.
His related claim that “he would like New Year’s Day to serve as a starting point to build national unity through forgiveness and harmony” is likely to have tongues wagging about “deals.”
As he usually does, Prem babbles about “morality” being required for moving “the country forward” ignoring his own immorality in ousting elected governments and the so-called People’s Constitution. He reckons the immensely corrupt armed forces “must set an example showing that they can take care of the country…”.
It seems “taking care of the country” involves murdering “opponents” with impunity and feathering the military leaderships multiple and expensive nests. This is Prem’s standard disingenuous fare but it is his other comments that will likely cause pundits to cogitate on meanings.
Prem becomes fantastical when he stated: “Many people may think our country has been divided. In fact, there is no division, just differences of opinion…“. Further,
If we view the differences as arising from friendship, the country will be in peace…. The unfortunate thing is that some people consider others who think differently from them as wrong, and bad. That would be an obstacle to achieving unity in the country.
Is this “reconciliation” or is it dementia? Read accounts of Prem’s anger in 2006 and “difference of opinion” is not what comes to mind. Those who spent time in jail or lost friends and relatives to Army bullets and those still incarcerated are not likely to equate these events with “friendship.”