Troops To ‘Create Understanding’ With Bangkokians

Soldiers stationed to contain anti-coup protests at Victory Monument in Bangkok, May 2014.

BANGKOK — The army is planning to dispatch over 300 soldiers to help Bangkokians "correctly" understand the political situation in Thailand.

Lt.Gen. Kampanart Dutdith, commander of the 1st Region Army, said today that 335 soldiers from five different army units will "create understanding" with Bangkok residents and people in neighboring provinces.

"We want them to understand the monarchy and democracy in a correct way," Lt.Gen. Kampanart told reporters yesterday. "Also, we want to tell people how to respond to new types of threats against society."

He did not elaborate on what those threats are, but said the public should not view the soldiers with suspicion, as their goal is merely to ensure that any societal problems are solved in an efficient manner.

"We will also listen to opinions from the public and hear their complaints," Lt.Gen. Kampanart said. 

Asked whether the military junta will repeal martial law any time soon, Lt.Gen. Kampanart replied that the matter is still under consideration by authorities. He stressed that martial law is necessary to prevent "unimaginable things" from happening.

"We have to be careful in whatever we do. We can't be careless," the lieutenant general said.

Since staging the coup against the elected government on 22 May, the junta's National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has launched a campaign to achieve "national reconciliation." The effort has included free concerts, free movies tickets, free 2014 FIFA World Cup telecasts, and a patriotic ballad called "Returning Happiness to the People" that was allegedly penned by NCPO chairman and Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha himself.

The NCPO has coupled the "happiness" campaign with an iron-fist rule over the Kingdom. Dissent and public protests of any kind remain banned, with violators being sent to face trial in military court. 


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