Junta meets business leaders

Six top businessmen who reported to the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) on Monday have been asked by the coup-makers to stay neutral and help them promote a better understanding of the situation among foreign investors.

The six businessmen were Srettha Thavisin, president of Sansiri Plc; Anant Asavabhokhin, chairman of Land and Houses Plc; and Premchai Kanasutra, president of Italian-Thai Development Plc.

Also in attendance were Apichart Chansakulporn, owner of rice trading company Siam Indica; Sarat Rattanavadee, managing director of Gulf JP; and Bundit Pitaksit, owner of Siam Car Rent company.

They had a meeting with assistant army chief Gen Paiboon Khumchaya.

They were among almost 40 individuals who were summoned on Sunday to report to the NCPO.

A source said the business operators were informed of the military's intention to seize power and were asked to stay "neutral".

According to the source, Gen Paiboon said the military had no choice but to stage a coup after the caretaker government failed to address the problems, especially overdue payments to the rice farmers.

Gen Paiboon told them the caretaker government was afraid to take the required actions to solve the problems and when it refused to step down, the military was forced to take action.

According to the source, he also urged the business operators to help talk to foreign investors and make them better understand the political situation.

The source said the business operators told Gen Paiboon that foreign investors did not "despise the coup that much".

However, it would be better for the coup-makers to appoint a new government and make it clear when an election will take place.

Gen Paiboon said he could not tell when the election will be held and it depends on how soon peace and order can be restored.

Meanwhile, all the other people who were summoned turned up as scheduled.

They included Damrong Phidet, former chief of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation; Tankhun Jitt-itsara, a former Democrat MP; and academic Thirayuth Boonmee.

Mr Damrong said yesterday he was only asked to give advice on afforestation. Mr Damrong also said he met Mr Thirayuth and he believed the academic was called to give his advice on social issues.

Mr Tankhun said yesterday he was ready to cooperate with the coup-makers, even though the ex-MP has previously voiced his disagreement with the coup on social media.

In the provinces, three out of the six co-leaders of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee in Nakhon Ratchasima who were summoned yesterday reported to the 2nd Army.

The officers spoke to PDRC chairman Chakarin Choetchai, Suphot Phiriyakiattiskun and Churi Praphaphitthayaphong yesterday at Suranari military camp in Muang district.

The coup ended PDRC rallies nationwide, including the PDRC chapter in Nakhon Ratchasima for which Mr Suphot mobilised local rally-goers and Ms Churi acted as a spokeswoman.

The other three PDRC key members are to meet the officers today. They are Supphaphon Iammethawi, Somchai Likhitworasiri and Chup Chairitthichai. Earlier, the 2nd Army summoned core members of the pro-government United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship.

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