Bangkok situation 'under control': Prayut

Mr Prayut Chan-o-cha reviewing the guard of honour during a welcoming ceremony in the Malacanang Palace grounds in Manila yesterday as Philippine President Benigno Aquino looked on.
Mr Prayut Chan-o-cha reviewing the guard of honour during a welcoming ceremony in the Malacanang Palace grounds in Manila yesterday as Philippine President Benigno Aquino looked on.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Thai PM makes remark at Manila conference during visit to firm up defence, security ties

Thailand's Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said yesterday the situation in Bangkok is "now under control", nearly two weeks after Thailand's worst bombing killed 20 people at a popular shrine.

"The situation is now under control by the authorities… Thailand has now returned to stability and security," Mr Prayut said during a joint news conference here with President Benigno Aquino.

He added: "Security officials are investigating and searching for the perpetrators to bring them to justice."

In Bangkok, Thai police said they have issued an arrest warrant for a yet unnamed suspect in the attack.

"We issued an arrest warrant for the suspect in the Sathorn pier incident," police spokesman Prawut Thawornsiri told Reuters, referring to a pier near Bangkok's Chao Phraya river.

He said a court issued the warrant based on grainy video footage of a man in a blue shirt kicking a bag into the water near the pier on the night of Aug 17, soon after the blast at Bangkok's Hindu Erawan Shrine.

No one was hurt in the pier explosion, but the suspect faces charges of unauthorised possession of explosives, exploding a bomb that could cause harm and attempted murder, according to the warrant.

The blast at the shrine, popular with Asian tourists, killed 20 people, more than half of them foreigners. Hundreds were injured.

Mr Prayut personally expressed his sympathies for the lone Filipino hurt in the attack.

Thailand's prime minister was in the Philippines for an official two-day visit to firm up defence and security ties between the Philippines and Thailand, as well as to drum up trade.

In bilateral talks held yesterday, Mr Prayut and Mr Aquino agreed to sign off on plans for "various activities" between the Thai and Philippine armed forces, including setting up the Philippines-Thailand Joint Committee on Military Cooperation this year.

Mr Prayut also addressed conflicts in the South China Sea. He said he has pressed Asean's position that China must show a firmer commitment to conclude a code of conduct governing actions in disputed waters.

Asean's foreign ministers early his month issued a communique warning that rival territorial claims in the South China Sea risk upsetting regional stability.

China's massive island-building programme in the area "has eroded trust and confidence, increased tensions, and may undermine peace", the ministers said in their communique. For his part, Mr Aquino said Thailand, as country coordinator for Asean-China relations, "has truly been a reliable companion of the Philippines in promoting understanding, peace and stability".

Singapore takes over the role of Asean-China coordinator this month.

On efforts to combat drug trafficking in Asia, Mr Prayut and Mr Aquino agreed to sign a memorandum of understanding to better coordinate efforts between Philippine and Thai anti-drug agencies.

Latin American cartels are reportedly trafficking growing amounts of cocaine and methamphetamines to increasingly wealthy East Asian countries.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 29, 2015, with the headline 'Bangkok situation 'under control': Prayut'. Print Edition | Subscribe