Don dismisses article against Thailand’s ASEAN chairmanship 

Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai has denounced an Indonesian newspaper columnist’s proposal to deny Thailand the ASEAN rotating chairmanship, saying the article was senseless, according to The Nation

“The author misunderstood and wrote the article to attack Thai leader [Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha] without considering the reality,” Don told reporters in Singapore during the annual ASEAN ministerial meeting over the weekend.

 

Thailand is scheduled to take up the chairmanship of the regional grouping next year. The Jakarta Post columnist, Kornelius Purpa, wrote an article last week calling on ASEAN to deny Thai junta chief Prayut the chance to chair the grouping.

 

“The Thai junta does not deserve the position amid strong waves of democratisation in this region,” the article says.

 

“We just witnessed how Malaysians responded to a corrupt leader. Myanmar is also undergoing a major transformation of democracy, although de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi has not been able to fully control the country. The Philippines and Indonesia belong to a club of democratic nations despite domestic problems,” the columnist wrote.

 

Don said being the chairman of ASEAN is not a personal matter, but one involving the country. Thailand as a country has to take the position in national and regional interest.

 

Thailand under the leadership of Prime Minister Prayut over the past four years has contributed and pushed forward many ASEAN projects and tasks, he said.

 

Prayut took power after staging a coup to topple the elected civilian government of Yingluck Shinawatra in May 2014.

 

While the international community strongly criticized the Thai junta for suppression of democracy and human rights, Don said the government provided good cooperation to the international community to solve many problems such as human trafficking and illegal fishery.

 

Thailand plans to have an election next year and Don said he expected the elected government would carry on the tasks initiated by his government.

 

The Nation said while the idea to force Thailand to skip the ASEAN chairmanship was not discussed in the ASEAN meeting here over the past week, the article was widely talked about at home, notably among dissident groups.