Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Wednesday (Aug 9) made some political remarks while speaking to a number of athletes who called on him at Government House before departing for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for the 29th SEA Games.
He told the athletes to adhere to the rules and sportsmanship.
“Don’t argue with the judges. Athletes and spectators should respect each other. Sometimes sport fans refuse to accept competition results because patriotism is strong in this region. So, we have to be careful,” he said.
“Today, people have exploited patriotism to cause chaos in the country. Both sides in conflict claim they are patriotic, leading to confusion whether they belong to the same nation or not. We have to walk toward the same goal, for peace in the country and Asean,” Gen Prayut said to the athletes.
He added: “Thailand is a core of Asean. But we do not need to claim we are the strongest in Asean.”
The prime minister said His Majesty King Rama X wants the government to do for the happiness of all Thai people and to restore strength and unity which had gone missing during the past 10 years.
“Athletes are considered as goodwill ambassadors of Thailand, so you must know the situation in our country. Thailand is able to take part in regional sports event because our country is peaceful and stable. Otherwise, we would only have competitions between colour-coded teams in our country,” Gen Prayut said, apparently referred to political activities of red and yellow shirt groups.
He urged the athletes to do their best, and not to concern too much about their looks.
“I have promised to all Thai people that I will do my best. I believe everyone will join forces to walk together forward, reduce disparities, build justice and do what is good for Thailand, both today and tomorrow. Don’t ask what the country has done for us. We have to ask what we have done for our country, where everyone enjoys dignity, freedom, independence and sovereignty.
“You don’t need to go anywhere else because you were born in Thailand and holding Thai nationality. However, somebody may not want to die in Thailand. Just let them do that,” Gen Prayut said.