Jakrapob: My highest reverence is for The King
It was a strange day for a politician accused of being disloyal to the monarchy. PM's Office Minister Jakrapob Penkair, who criticised Thailand's 'patronage system' in a controversial speech at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand, countered the allegation by claiming that his words had been distorted, vowed to sue the Democrats and insisted that the monarchy is the heart and soul of the nation. Here are excerpts from an emotional Q&A session with reporters:
Are you going to swear true loyalty to the monarchy?
This is an old trick. I swear on the dignity of myself and my family that my highest reverence goes to the monarchy. Let time prove the truth.
You mentioned Privy Council president General Prem Tinsulanonda in a negative way in your speech.
I mentioned that person by name, yes. But what we are discussing today has nothing to do with him. Nobody thinks General Prem is an institution. I would like to quote His Majesty the King, who said, "Privy councillors have the duty of giving advice to the king and whenever they advise other people, they are not performing the duty of a privy councillor."
The privy councillor's role is respected, but their involvement in other matters can attract criticism from the public.
Do you think a privy councillor is part of a monarch's surroundings?
That question is for academic discussion. I don't want to attract more legal problems.
It seems like your friends in the [pro-government] Demo-cratic Alliance against Dicta-torship are protecting you.
Nobody can protect you if you act in contempt of the monarchy. They are expressing their concern, not protecting me. You are also in the wrong for protecting people guilty of lese majeste.
Do you feel you are being isolated from the People's Power Party?
This is a personal responsibility and I have to explain the matter myself.
I think an experienced political party will be able to see that and not let itself become a tool for the opposition.
I am the accused, and as a person who has received royal endorsement as PM's Office Minister and as a royal subject, I have to prove my innocence and make my decisions on my own.
Has former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra signalled for you to resign?
I have received all kinds of comments from people. I won't be specific here; it's a personal matter, but I will make my decision myself.