Security, port top PM goals in Myanmar Prayut prepares for first foreign visit

8 October 2014 | Patsara Jikkham & Wassana Nanuam | Bangkok Post


Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha will pay his first visit as prime minister to Myanmar tomorrow until Friday, with his agenda dominated by security and economic issues.

Foreign Affairs Minister Gen Tanasak Patimapragorn said yesterday Gen Prayut will meet his counterpart to discuss cooperation on the Dawei deep-sea port development project, the energy sector and the border security.

Sihasak Phuangketkeow, the permanent secretary for foreign affairs, said the prime minister will also meet the Thai business community in Myanmar to discuss what the government can do to support foreign trade and commerce.

The prime minister has also confirmed he will attend the 10th Asia-Europe Meeting in Milan, Italy, from Oct 16-17. Leaders from 51 Asian and European member states will attend.

Mr Sihasak said Gen Prayut will meet on the sidelines with leaders from China, Japan and South Korea. Sessions with European leaders are still being arranged.

Gen Tanasak said he was confident Gen Prayut will be well-received at the conference, despite Thailand's political upheaval. The United States has not imposed sanctions on Thailand, and the US embassy in Bangkok understands the situation, he said.

A source said that after the Asem meeting, Gen Prayut is scheduled to visit Malaysia and Cambodia and take part in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Beijing in mid-November.

Emerging from  the first joint meeting between the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) and the cabinet yesterday, Gen Prayut said he was satisfied the council and the cabinet were working according to the national transition plan.

The roadmap for a new national administration, set soon after the NCPO seized power from the previous government on May 22, established a timeframe and tasks, including the creation of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) and the National Reform Council (NRC), whose members were appointed recently.

Gen Prayut said many of the 32 members of the cabinet, appointed on Aug 31, also concurrently hold seats in the NCPO. Gen Prayut also remains head of the coup council.

The meeting yesterday was to review the cabinet's performance during its first month in office.

He said the cabinet and the NCPO have worked in tandem and proceeded to fulfill responsibilities set out in five areas: national security, economy, finances, social harmony, law and special affairs.

Gen Prayut told the joint meeting the public wants to know what the NCPO has done since the coup.

"Some people thought we have sat on our hands. Others were under the impression we have done trivial things," he said.

The council and the cabinet have to cooperate, he said. While the cabinet focuses on running the affairs of the state, it must go on the offensive in tackling problems and implementing policies. At the same time, the NCPO steps in to help deal with security, manpower and important legal issues.

Gen Prayut said problems unresolved by the previous government have been taken up with new approaches tailored towards finding solutions. High among their priorities is eradicating graft. Anti-corruption efforts require intense investigation as well as the review and suspension of projects tainted by graft.

Gen Prayut insisted now was not the time for people to discuss whether to lift martial law because the NRC has not yet set national reforms in motion. He recognised that setting up the NLA and the NRC have been problematic as some people are sceptical about the selection and suitability of the appointees.