Army Advises Social Media to ‘Tone Down’ Criticism of Arms Deals

Soldiers during a parade drill in Bangkok on Jan. 16, 2020.

BANGKOK — Two army representatives urged social media to rein in their fury in the wake of the forces’ failed bid to buy armored vehicles at the price tag of 4.5 billion baht.

Spokesman Col. Winthai Suvaree said Thursday the public should understand that the army already withdrew its plan to buy the vehicles from the United States, echoing an army spokesman who said yesterday that the public should also appreciate the works done by the force during the pandemic.

“Please tone down the criticism,” Col. Winthai said on the phone. “Actually, the criticism is subsiding already.”

The army came under fire after words got out that the force was planning to spend 4.5 billion baht to buy 50 Strykers from the United States. Bowing to public pressure, army chief Gen. Apirat Kongsompong decided to postpone the procurement deal to 2021 fiscal year instead.

Winthai said the army is still closely monitoring the criticism on social media, though it has no plan to prosecute those who spread “distorted information,” contrary to some media reports.

“I am not aware that anyone would be charged,” Col. Winthai said. “There is nothing much really. We just want people who are in doubt to ask us for information first.”

Speaking to the media yesterday, army spokeswoman Col. Sirichan Ngathong also asked the public to tone down its criticism, saying that the army is doing a lot to help people affected by the coronavirus.

Activities undertaken by the army include disinfecting public areas, helping organize state-run quarantine facilities, as well as giving out relief food supplies to the public.