BANGKOK — Army chief Gen. Apirat Kongsompong reported to a parliament committee today to discuss a controversial speech he made earlier this month.
Apirat initially declined to meet with the House Committee on National Security as summoned, citing a busy schedule. Speaking at the committee Monday, Apriat said he cancelled an appointment so he could discuss the matter with the lawmakers, who have expressed concern over the fiery rhetoric the general employed against the opposition.
“I flew back here and changed my outfit in the car so that I could meet every one of you,” Apirat, dressed in civilian suit, told the committee. “I’d like to affirm that I am willing to exchange my views with every committee member, and I am willing to cooperate in every matter.”
However, the discussion then proceeded behind closed doors, and reporters were not allowed to observe.
Apirat was inspecting a military unit in Kanchanaburi province on Monday morning. He was summoned last week by the committee – chaired by one of the opposition parties – for comments he made in a public speech on Oct. 11, in which he accused rival politicians of belonging to a Communist network.
Gen. Apirat also accused the opposition of plotting to sabotage the monarchy, a charge vehemently denied by the lawmakers.
Government leaders including Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan have defended Apirat’s speech on the grounds that he had good intentions for the country.
“I haven’t talked to him about it, but everyone means well for their country,” Prawit told reporters on Oct. 15.