BANGKOK — PM Prayut Chan-o-cha on Friday responded to the protests that challenged his authority in an unprecedented scale by insisting he would not resign, before going on a rant that included what many saw as a threat to the protesters.
“Let me ask you what I did wrong? What did I do wrong right now? Can I ask you?” Prime Minister Prayut said to reporters in the first news conference since he declared a “severe emergency” over Bangkok.
When a reporter suggested it was because Prayut has been a Prime Minister for too long, the general replied, “Have you listened to monks’ prayer? Have you visited a temple at all? I guess you don’t often visit a temple, that’s why you are like this.”
“Listen to the prayers … don’t be careless, because people can die today, or tomorrow,” Prayut said, hours before a new protest is planned in Bangkok’s city center. “As the prayers go, don’t be reckless with your life. Prepare to die any moment, by illness or whatever.”
He went on, “Do not trifle with the powerful Grim Reaper. Death may come today, or another day. Everyone can die at any moment.”
The last sentence seems to be a reference to Lord Buddha’s word as inscribed in the book of Bhaddhēkarattagāthā, in which he warned his followers to be aware that death can come at any time.
But his remark was interpreted nonetheless by critics of the government as a warning against the protesters set to gather today.
“Shouldn’t Thai news medias do something when Junta PM made a Massacre threat to Thai people?” Twitter user @2161LORI wrote in English under the hashtag “PM Threatens to Kill People.”
“Once the Prime Minister threatens to kill people, he is no longer the Prime Minister, because he has fully become a tyrant,” activist leader Tattep “Ford” Ruangprapaikijseree wrote on social media.
At the news conference, PM Prayut also insisted he would not bow to protesters’ demand of immediate resignation, and that the protesters will face legal consequences.
“If we allow people who break the law to continue breaking the law, the country will not survive,” Prayut said. “This is not for my sake. It’s for the sake of everyone. The country, and the people.”