- Title: "The threat now is fake news" - Thai army chief describes online "hybrid war"
- Date: 9th August 2019
- Summary: BANGKOK, THAILAND (AUGUST 9, 2019) (REUTERS) ***WARNING: CONTAINS FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY*** (SOUNDBITE) (English) THAI ARMY CHIEF, APIRAT KONGSOMPONG, SAYING: "Some political party, just born a couple of years ago, you know, and they use the, they have the platform of their propaganda direct to them when they were sixteen or seventeen (years of age). Because they know that the law by eighteen, they have the first election." APIRAT LISTENING TO REPORTER (SOUNDBITE) (English) THAI ARMY CHIEF, APIRAT KONGSOMPONG, SAYING: "It is easy, you know, to change their behaviour and change their trust and try to deny them from the real thing what happened, okay? That we call, that I call, that they try to educate them with fake news." APIRAT LOOKING ON (SOUNDBITE) (English) THAI ARMY CHIEF, APIRAT KONGSOMPONG, SAYING: "We (are) concern on the national security. We are not concerning about the politics. That's why we have our line. We're not across our line and I always talk to the directorate of intelligence that hey, now stop, no more. We do not search or we do not do the fake news, we just concerning on the national security." APIRAT LISTENING AND NODDING (SOUNDBITE) (English) THAI ARMY CHIEF, APIRAT KONGSOMPONG, SAYING: "As long as I stand on this position, I will never let the army across the line." APIRAT'S HAND REACHING FOR COFFEE CUP (SOUNDBITE) (English) THAI ARMY CHIEF, APIRAT KONGSOMPONG, SAYING: "You have everything, you have all kinds of tools, not just only the army or soldier. We are going to be the last, and I stand on that that we're going to be the last. The army don't want to, you know, get into the game again." APIRAT LISTENING AND NODDING (SOUNDBITE) (English) THAI ARMY CHIEF, APIRAT KONGSOMPONG, SAYING: "First thing, the relationship between the monarchy and the army never change. It's getting better and better. Never change. And stronger and more trust, more trust. Because, okay, for myself, my family serves the monarchy since my father, okay, myself, and also my son, you know, we respect because, you know, we always think, and I always talk to my subordinates and my soldiers every times that this country have today because of the monarchy."
- Embargoed: 23rd August 2019 16:35
- Keywords: Thai Thailand army chief politics opposition coup cyber crime fake news
- Location: BANGKOK, THAILAND
- City: BANGKOK, THAILAND
- Country: Thailand
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA003ARHVKUF
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Thailand's army is fighting a "hybrid war" waged by enemies who are using "fake news" to turn young Thais against the military and the monarchy, the army chief said in a rare interview on Friday (August 9).
General Apirat Kongsompong spoke to Reuters a week after a half-dozen small bombs hit Bangkok during a high profile meeting of world powers, attacks he said were aimed at undermining a new civilian government led by the former junta leader.
Although Thailand officially ended five years of army rule last month, opposition parties say elections were engineered to keep retired general Prayuth Chan-ocha as prime minister and cement the military's control.
Apirat said the army was now fighting a struggle he compared to that against communist insurgents in the 1970s and '80s, with the challenge now being propaganda on the internet.
Apirat declined to name those he suspected of being behind either the propaganda or the bomb attacks, but referred to unidentified parties.
The royalist, pro-military establishment has long been at odds with a populist movement founded by ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and a decade of sometimes violent demonstrations roiled Thailand before the last coup.
The pro-establishment forces accuse populists of seeking to weaken the monarchy, although the opposition parties have long denied any aim of harming an institution revered in traditional culture.
Apirat vowed that the military would stay out of politics and said there would be no coups under his watch.
(Production: Vorasit Satienlerk, Panu Wongcha-um, Juarawee Kittisilpa)
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