Pheu Thai candidate accused of foul play
Army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha has vented his ire over an alleged attempt by a Pheu Thai election candidate to obstruct a drug raid in Bangkok, saying he will flood the area with troops to assist the government in its drive.
An army spokesman accused Pheu Thai candidate and former MP Pairoj Isarasereepong and his aides of intimidating three military members of the government’s Task Force 315 anti-drug unit in a search at Sap Charoen estate in Nong Chok district on May 23.
“Who are you? How dare you intimidate our officers? I won’t allow them to do so. If three soldiers encountered such a problem in their community, I will send 50 soldiers,” said Gen Prayuth.
“Let’s see if they dare to surround our soldiers again. If 50 soldiers can’t stop them, then I will send 100 soldiers there. We’ll use this approach.”
Gen Prayuth expressed his anger after learning about the incident and that Mr Pairoj had filed defamation complaints against army spokesman Col Sansern Kaewkamnerd for discussing his role with the media.
The 315 task force, consisting of police, military and civilian members, has been set up recently under the Democrat-led government’s campaign against drugs in Bangkok and a further five adjoining provinces.
A unit was sent to Sap Charoen to conduct a drug search but met Mr Pairoj, a candidate for Bangkok’s constituency 9, and his aides on arrival.
According to Col Sansern, the two men accompanying Mr Pairoj allegedly opened their shirts to show they had guns before the three task force members left the area.
“I’ve questioned officers involved about the incident. You [Mr Pairoj] have pressured our soldiers to leave the area and barred them from carrying out their operation. It’s a lack of respect between us. I’ve always respected you,” Gen Prayuth fumed
“Lately, I’ve tried to keep my mouth shut and tried to build a good atmosphere for the election, so everybody would be happy with the election. People can advertise whatever they want. But you have made allegations against soldiers, you have bullied soldiers. I can’t allow it.”
Gen Prayuth said the army would continue its operations under the 315 task force plan. Those people who wanted the army to end its anti-drugs operations might have been involved in drug trafficking rings, he said. Gen Prayuth downplayed a suggestion that the confrontation would trigger another conflict between the army and Pheu Thai.
“I don’t have any problem with any party, but with lawbreakers. So don’t violate the law, no matter which party you are with,” he said.
He said he and his aides had travelled to the housing estate after complaints by residents who were frightened by the arrival of soldiers in army vehicles.
Mr Pairoj claimed he left the area after asking the unit about the purpose of its visit. The Nong Chok police chief was there when he talked to the three members of the 315 task force and could be his witness that he did not carry any gun, said Mr Pairoj.
He has lodged civil and criminal complaints against Col Sansern for defaming him and undermining his support.
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva insisted the 315 task force has nothing to do with politics and urged the public to cooperate with its personnel.
Yesterday, about 100 officers of the Crime Suppression Division (CSD), the 191 police, and the Khlong Tan police station, also searched 10 spots in Nualchit community in Ekkamai Soi 30 in Bangkok’s Wattana district.
The search was an operation under the 315 anti-drugs plan, said Pol Col Prasopchok Phrommoon, a deputy CSD chief. One suspect was arrested.