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Thailand is facing “hybrid warfare” by “ill-intentioned politicians” – Army chief Gen Apirat

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PHOTO: Screenshot – Matichon TV

Thailand’s Army Commander-in-Chief Gen Apirat Kongsompong is warning that Thailand is facing what he described as a “hybrid warfare”.

The ultra-loyalist Army chief says the ‘war’ is being waged by a collection of “ill-intentioned politicians”, remnants of communist ideologues and “foreign forces” against the country’s major establishments. His speech was aimed fairly and squarely at opposition politicians who he accused of “soliciting foreign interference in Thai domestic affairs”.

His comments were heavily politically weighted for a man who is meant to represent the country’s Army, a position usually associated with political neutrality.

General Apirat was speaking at the army’s southern headquarters where he outlined what he claimed to be a conspiracy among several groups of people bent on “destroying the country and its major establishments.”

General Apirat referred to a recent visit to Hong Kong by a leading Thai opposition politician during which he met with pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong, claiming it was an “illustration of how anti-government forces are trying to solicit foreign interference in Thai domestic affairs”.

He did not mention names specifically but showed a picture of Wong taken with the silhouette of someone understood to be Thanathorn Jungroongruangkit, the fire-brand leader of Future Forward Party. Thanathorn admitted that he was in Hong Kong recently for a panel discussion and a picture he took with Wong wen tviral. He also admitted that he was inspired to enter politics by the fight for democracy in Hong Kong.

He accused opposition figures of targeting young people and trying to indoctrinate them with “destructive ideas.”

“Joshua Wong visited Thailand and then this businessman-turned-politician went to Hong Kong. Were they up to something? I want to ask whether these young (Thai) people would go out on the streets if called upon one day,” he said.

Thailand is facing “hybrid warfare” by "ill-intentioned politicians" - Army chief Gen Apirat | News by Thaiger

PHOTO: Future Forward’s Thanathorn Jungroongruangkit and HK pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong

General Apirat, a key supporter of the Prayut government, took aim at politicians and academics who he said are trying to use the situation in southern Thailand for political gains. He singled out Dr. Chalita Bundhuwong from the Kasetsart University, who proposed, during a recent panel discussion in Pattani, that Article 1 of the Constitution which guarantees Thailand as a single and indivisible state, be amended.

General Apirat opined that the proposal has a “hidden motive that would threaten the country’s security”. “Amending Article 1 of the Constitution would pave the way for amendments of other articles concerning the monarchy,” he said without elaborating but vowed to block any attempts to have the article in question amended. The general didn’t outline the means by which he would be able to ‘block’ the process of amendments to Thailand’s constitution.

The army chief also recalled the presence of a group of western diplomats who showed up at Pathumwan police station in April when Thanathorn was summoned to hear a sedition charge against him. He alleged that it was part of a larger plot to internationalise the issue.

The ‘western diplomats’ were staff from foreign embassies stationed in Bangkok whose governments had openly expressed concerns over the sedition charges against the Future Forward leader.

“All these incidents were not coincidental,” he said, referring specifically to Thanathorn’s meeting with Wong, the support shown by western diplomats to the Future Forward leader, the controversial panel discussion in Pattani and the frequent mobilising of anti-military rallies.

“They were orchestrated.”

Gen Apirat also accused some of the “foreign educated” academics with leftist views of being “masterminds” behind many of the anti-government and anti-military activities.

He claimed, without evidence, that they had been working in cahoots with politicians “who harbour ill intentions toward the country’s major establishments, foreign elements, and businessmen born with silver spoons in their mouths” to wage a “hybrid warfare” against the country.

Gen Apirat clarified that a “hybrid war” is a modern form of warfare that employs a range tools and players designed to destabilise and bring about changes in a society.

“They include inciting local unrests, propaganda, foreign interference, cyber-attacks, economic pressure, and discrediting of the executive and judiciary branches.”

“Their ultimate aim is to win elections, seize executive power, and to change the Constitution.”

The General’s lecture was entitled “Our Land from Security Perspectives” and was full of theatre punctuating some of his points with a produced Power Point presentation and military music.

When challenged by the media if a dialogue with these groups of dissenting voices was possible, General Apirat said “I don’t think so. They are bent on pushing their agenda regardless of what we say.”

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

 

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