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Army chief who marches to a differe

Subject: Army chief who marches to a different tune 


      Army chief who marches
      to a different tune

      In an interview with The Nation on
      Wednesday, new Army chief Surayuth
      Julanont discussed not only professional
      questions, but also delved into some
      sensitive aspects of his life. Excerpts from
      the interview. 

      Who first told you that you would get the
      post of army chief? 

      The supreme commander [Gen Mongol

      Were you startled? 

      I was really excited because I didn't
      imagine going this far. What was discussed
      among senior military officials was that I
      deserved to be the army chief-of-staff. 

      Some say that you got the post because of
      politics. How will you draw a line between
      your work as army chief and politics? 

      The administration, which is the political
      power, is the one to decide whether I am
      deserving of this post. If someone says that
      my appointment was because of politics,
      then one must admit that under our system,
      politicians are the administration and we
      permanent officials have to obey their order
      and regulations. 

      The defence minister is the ultimate
      commander of soldiers, so we have to
      comply with his order. 

      Earlier leaflets claimed that your father was
      the No 1 enemy of the armed forces
      because he led the communist insurgency.
      Were you uneasy when he was leading the

      Very uneasy indeed. We were on the
      opposite side because of my duty but we
      were still father and son. I did not select as
      to whom I should be born, but I have to carry
      out my duty. 

      Can you perform both duties at the same
      time -- as a grateful son and a soldier sent
      out to crush the communist terrorists? 

      As a son, I have to respect my father, but I
      have my own views about my duty and
      responsibility. At this point, I can say that
      had I killed my father while fighting
      communists terrorists, it would not have
      been regarded it as a sin. At that time, we
      would not be able to ask who our enemies
      were. I had made up my mind that such a
      thing would be out of my control while on

      Did you ever try to avoid being deployed to
      crush communist terrorists in northern
      provinces because your father was active in
      those areas? 

      I've never tried to avoid my duty. I have
      always obeyed commands deploying me

      Did your father know that you were among
      the soldiers combatting his comrades? 

      The last time I met my father in Beijing
      before his death, we talked about this
      issue. My father said he knew that I am a
      soldier and he tried to avoid meeting me in
      the battle field. 

      You are one of the soldiers with a
      democratic mind but some say you were
      among those ordered to bring soldiers to
      crush pro-democracy protesters on
      Rajdamnoen Avenue in May 1992? 

      It's true. 

      What did you do, then? 

      I had to comply with the order. I led a
      company of soldiers to Bangkok from Lop

      On May 17 [when soldiers opened fire on

      I arrived the next morning. 

      What was the exact order? 

      I got the order on radio from the army chief
      asking me to move soldiers to Bangkok. 

      For what purpose? 

      To stop turmoil on the streets and I was with
      my soldiers. 

      What did you do? 

      I took orders from the then army chief, but I
      recommended my soldiers to stick to the
      rule of engagement. I ordered them not to
      use weapons. 

      You asked your soldiers not to open fire? 

      That's right.