A Jakarta Post commentary published on The Straits Times website on July 31 called on Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to hold elections in his country before he assumes the Asean chairmanship. Thailand's Foreign Ministry has responded to the piece in a letter, reproduced here:
The article entitled "Don't let Thai junta chief chair Asean next year", which appeared on The Straits Times website on July 31, 2018, was greatly disappointing. Seldom has one seen an article written with such a sheer lack of understanding of Thailand's political developments in relation to the developments in Asean, not to mention factual inaccuracies and an inherent bias. I, therefore, feel compelled to make the following points:
Firstly, since assuming office four years ago, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has announced a clear Roadmap to pave the way towards a genuine and sustainable democracy that truly meets the needs and aspirations of the Thai people. The Prime Minister has strictly adhered to the Roadmap, with all ten organic laws fundamental to the political system and the holding of elections already passed by the National Legislative Assembly. Eight have already come into force and two are awaiting royal endorsement.
Moreover, the Royal Thai Government has focused on instituting essential and comprehensive reforms to ensure the sustainable development of the country. Emphasis is placed on fighting corruption, advancing human rights protection, and tackling deeply rooted and difficult issues, such as human trafficking and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU). The progress made on these issues has been commended by our friends and the international community.
Secondly, the author ignores the fact that, since the very beginning, Thailand has shown her full commitment to Asean, which came into existence through the Bangkok Declaration. We have maintained an active and constructive role in this important community building process. The current Government successfully made sustainable development as a major policy platform for Asean. Through Thailand's Initiative, Asean is, for the first time, integrating people-centred sustainable development into Asean policies and launching Asean's dialogue on this issue with key partners, such as the EU. The current Government is also setting up a regional warehouse of supplies that will support Asean's disaster relief efforts, under the coordination of the AHA Centre in Jakarta.
Thirdly, the Asean Chairmanship is not a personal undertaking but a national one. When Thailand takes up the Chairmanship next year, with the new Government taking full responsibility in hosting the relevant Asean Summits and Related Meetings, we aim to build on the foundations of Asean integration to advance a truly people-centred Asean for the future of our generations.
Director-General of the Department of Information
Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand