Thai PM Prayut says security must come first to boost foreign confidence

BANGKOK (REUTERS) - Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Monday called on Thais to be the "eyes and ears" of security forces in order to boost international confidence in Thailand after the second explosion in the capital Bangkok in just over a month.

Police have detained three people in connection with the grenade explosion which occurred on Saturday night outside Bangkok's Ratchadaphisek Criminal Court. No one was hurt in the attack.

"We ask the public to be the eyes and ears of authorities because security must come first. We must rebuild confidence for foreigners," Mr Prayut told reporters. "I will not bow to bad people."

Thailand remains under martial law and military leaders say they have no plans to lift it. The law has kept away some visitors, as they are unable to buy travel insurance for countries under martial law.

Thailand has been under martial law since the military seized power on May 22 last year to end months of sometimes deadly street protests.

Chief of Royal Thai Police General Somyot Poompanmuang said those behind Saturday's attack were from "the same political background" as those responsible for the twin explosions outside Bangkok's Siam Paragon shopping mall last month.

One of the suspects, Mahahin Khunthong, told reporters on Sunday that he and another man were hired for 20,000 baht (S$846) to carry out the attack and that other attacks were planned in order to "prompt United Nations intervention."

"One of us rode the motorcycle and another threw the grenade. There were plans to stage attacks at other locations so that UN intervenes in Thailand," Mahahin told reporters. "I did not want to do this but in order to support my family I offered to be the driver."

Political gatherings are banned under martial law, but that has not stopped some university students from staging public protests against the ruling junta, known as the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).

The NCPO has justified martial law by saying security in Thailand is unstable, citing certain groups' opposition to military rule.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.