“Three Ps” deny rift rumours

The prime minister said Friday that the “Three Ps” at the head of government are still “brothers,” following rumours of infighting between senior members of the pro-military government.

The Three Ps is a nickname given to Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-ocha, Deputy Prime Minister General Prawit “Pom” Wongsuwan and Interior Minister General Anupong “Pok” Paochinda by the Thai media.

“Not everyone loves their friends as much as we three love each other, since we fought on a battlefield together and he [Prawit] was my commanding officer from my first step into the civil servant service,” Prayut told reporters.

Prawit also said Friday that “there is no problem within the party, and if the Prime Minister goes, I will go.”

The three generals led the coup that toppled the elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra in May 2014. The three then came into power in the current government when the ruling coalition led by Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) and all 250 junta-appointed senators picked Prayut as prime minister in 2019.

“We lived in the same house and we ate and slept with each other, we learned and trained with each other until we grow old together and we still respect one another,” Prayut said. “Everything that I am today is because of what the two big brothers have taught me and I remember, they never taught me to be corrupt, and I never have been.”

Prayut came under heavy pressure during the censure debate this week. Rumours have been spreading that Prawit, the leader of the ruling PPRP, and Deputy Minister of Agriculture Thammanat Prompow, the secretary-general of the party, are lobbying MPs to vote against Prayut at a no-confidence vote on Saturday.

The rumour was exacerbated when Wisarn Techateerawat, Phue Thai’s MP from Chiang Rai, said during the censure debate on Thursday that Prayut was handing out 5 million baht to each MP willing to support him to keep his position, in his reception room on the third floor of the parliament.

Prayut and PPRP MPs who met with him Friday have denied the accusation. Prayut said in parliament on Thursday that he would never do such an “absurd” thing.

Veerakorn Kumprakob, one of the MPs who met with Prayut in his room, told reporters on Friday that they were there to give the prime minister moral support for the upcoming censure debate.

Thammanat said on Thursday that it is up to Prawit and individual PPRP MPs on how they wanted to vote.

Prayut said on Friday that he never has any problem with Thammanat, saying “how can an adult fight with a kid?” When reporters asked what if the kid has a problem, Prayut said “I will fix it.”

Deputy Prime Minister Anutin Charnvirakul and leader the Bhumjaithai Party, the second biggest party in the coalition, said on Friday that all 61 of the party’s MPs will vote for Prayut on Saturday.

“You can trust me and we trust Pom,” he said. “If you do not trust Pom then who will you trust?”

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