Thai PM faces opposition queries as he sets out government plans

Prayuth Chan-ocha says government will focus on monarchy, economic growth and developing medical cannabis industry.

    Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth laid out his government's policy plans in parliament on Thursday [FILE/Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters]
    Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth laid out his government's policy plans in parliament on Thursday [FILE/Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters]

    Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, the former junta leader, faced opposition questions in parliament for the first time on Thursday as he set out his plans for government.

    Prayuth took power in a 2014 coup, but held onto the post of prime minister after a general election in March that opposition parties say was engineered to ensure the military kept its hands on power.

    Prayuth, who as military leader developed a reputation for being prickly and dismissive of anyone who disagreed with him, greeted legislators by saying "I always missed you all."

    As soon as Prayuth started his introduction, he was challenged by a member of the opposition Pheu Thai party to stick to the 66-page policy document and not to offer extra comment.

    "OK, I will read that out for you. And you will have to follow along," he responded.

    The policy priorities, released in summary on Sunday, include trying to encourage economic growth and developing a medical cannabis industry.

    The document said protecting the monarchy was the government's top priority.

    The most senior figures in the new government are all members of the old military administration, but Prayuth needed to build a coalition with 19 other parties to ensure a small majority in the lower house of parliament over the pro-democracy coalition led by Pheu Thai and Future Forward, a new party that captured the vote of many younger voters.

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    SOURCE: Reuters news agency