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Old 22-04-2012, 11:06 AM   #76 (permalink)
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If what he said was the truth then there is a big step forward.
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Old 22-04-2012, 06:46 PM   #77 (permalink)
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What I'd have given to have been a fly on the wall when the Thaksin-Army negotiations were underway. What was the deal maker? And what of Prem and his entourage - decades of building an amart network - I can't imagine a deal just between Thaksin and the Army - Prem and his lot must have given the nod after getting what they wanted. I wonder what it was. Intriguing.

The Reds might be fighting Thaksin yet..
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Old 22-04-2012, 06:54 PM   #78 (permalink)
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You may be on to something there.
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Old 28-05-2012, 04:32 PM   #79 (permalink)
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Is the Thai military budget low compared to its neighbours? | Asia News – Politics, Media, Education | Asian Correspondent

Is the Thai military budget low compared to its neighbours?

By Bangkok Pundit May 28, 2012 3:00PM UTC

The Bangkok Post:
Army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha has ordered the 2nd Army Region and the Suranaree Task Force to stay alert even before the 2013 budget, now in parliament, is approved by lawmakers. The navy and air force also are ready in case border clashes resume.

Thailand’s military budget is small compared to other Southeast Asian nations.

“Our defence budget cannot match that in many countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia or Myanmar,” the source said. “Their defence budgets are around 5% of GDP. Ours in 2013 is only 1.44%, although we should get up to 2% of GDP.”


The budget includes no allocations for new arms purchases, the source said.

BP: There are a few different sources online about the % of a military spending to GDP, but the most up-to-date one that BP can find is from the Australian government for 2011 (page 5 of this PDF):



BP: Ok, Singapore is close to 4%, Indonesia is less than 1%, and Malaysia is just under 2% which is just above Thailand. Perhaps, you can say Singapore is close to 5%, but the only two are not….
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Old 03-07-2012, 01:07 AM   #80 (permalink)
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http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/poli...ut-buying-arms

PM, military to talk about buying arms New weapons procurements and the military reshuffle will be on the agenda for talks today between Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and the armed forces heads.

Ms Yingluck will meet Supreme Commander Gen Thanasak Patimapakorn, army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, navy commander Adm Surasak Rounroengrom, air force chief ACM Itthaporn Subha-wong, Defence Minister ACM Sukumpol Suwanatat and permanent secretary for defence Gen Sathian Permthong-in, a source said.

They are meeting at the Royal Thai Armed Forces' headquarters on Chaeng Watthana Road.

Ms Yingluck wants to establish a ritual of meeting the military chiefs every two months for "casual talks".

One topic on the agenda today is a new armed forces development plan and a new package to purchase weapons.

Another issue to be discussed is the military reshuffle list that needs to be finished and forwarded to Ms Yingluck by mid-August, the source said.

Two key vacancies to fill by the end of September are the permanent secretary for defence and the air force commander posts, the source said.

Candidates would be nominated to succeed Gen Sathian who is due to retire on Sept 30, the source said.

Gen Chatree Thatti _ currently a deputy to Gen Sathian _ is expected to emerge as the new permanent secretary for defence.

However, Gen Prayuth might also nominate his deputy and assistant, Gen Dapong Ratanasuwan and Gen Thanongsak Apirakyothin, for the position, the source said.

As for the potential candidates for the new air force chief, ACM Itthaporn was expected to nominate his assistant, ACM Prajin Jantong with whom ACM Sukumpol might not be happy because ACM Prajin is seen as a protege of the Sept 19, 2006 coup makers.
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Old 03-07-2012, 01:10 AM   #81 (permalink)
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Sweet words from the Army's wary men in the middle - The Nation

Analysis

Sweet words from the Army's wary men in the middle

Avudh Panananda
The Nation July 3, 2012 1:00 am

Gen Prayuth

Military leaders appear to be on the horns of a dilemma over whether they should stay out of politics, while standing at the centre of the political landscape with opposing camps vying for their support.

In the face of escalating polarisation between the Pheu Thai and Democrat parties, Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha has been pestered by reporters to comment on the political situation.

As the two major parties try to sway sentiment and outwit one another, Prayuth opts for a survival strategy of sweet talk for all sides.

He has instructed his officers to be cordial to the coalition and opposition while staying on the sidelines as observers to the political tug of war.

His chief of staff, General Sirichai Distakul, is working hard to implement a myriad of government projects assigned to the Army. Meanwhile, his deputy, General Dapong Ratanasuwan has been in close contact with government opponents, particularly the Democrats and those in the People's Alliance for Democracy.

The Army chief is keeping his cards close to his chest. In the Democrat-Pheu Thai spat over the request by Nasa to conduct weather research at U-tapao air base, he made ambiguous remarks that could be construed as pro-government but stopped short of debunking the opposition's concern about regional security.

In light of the mushrooming mass rallies, the Internal Security Operations Command has turned a blind eye to the current agitation. The pro-government camp has free rein to mobilise the red shirts. The anti-government camp is equally free to counter the red rallies.

While opposing camps compete to stir up the masses, the question is how long the Army can afford to remain on the sidelines?

If politicians keep on fuelling social divisions, then it's a matter of time before Prayuth is forced to show his cards.
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Old 03-07-2012, 09:30 AM   #82 (permalink)
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Quote:
"One topic on the agenda today is a new armed forces development plan and a new package to purchase weapons."


IMHO, the military reshuffle is of little consequence. let them do what they want.The military is such a snake-pit, that trying to tamper with their moving people around is up to them.

Weapons purchasing is another thing altogether.

The money one pours into them should always be looked at as what alternatives could that money be used for.

Other than the Southern insurgency which needs to be fully funded, what other military threats are there that require weapons upgrading.

I hope someone has the wherewithal to subject proposals to this measurement.

But trying to control State expenditures for out-of-control elements is difficult.

That is why I asked previously, who will control British State funeral expenditures when Queen Lizzie croaks.
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Old 03-07-2012, 09:45 AM   #83 (permalink)
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Quote:
Sweet words from the Army's wary men in the middle - The Nation



Quote:
"................at the centre of the political landscape with opposing camps vying for their support.
What opposing camps is that?

The UDD/Red Shirts are certainly not involved in such a game.

They only hold those people in contempt for the murderers that they are, and conceive them no differently than a foreign occupation force.

And the General knows that.

Ms. Y. is doing her political dance which she needs to do considering her situation, but that doesn't mean her primary political base is playing that game.

Quote:
In the face of escalating polarisation between the Pheu Thai and Democrat parties


There is no "escalating polarization".

The propaganda media again trying to suggest there is a political crisis when their boys are not in control.

The election takes care of any political party relationships, relegating one to the sidelines, and the preferred one into governance.

Just because those on the sidelines try to make as much noise as they can, does not equate to 'polarization'

Quote:
"If politicians keep on fuelling social divisions, then it's a matter of time before Prayuth is forced to show his cards"


There we have the old PAD saw again, denigrating Politicians as a class, in order to undermine electoral democracy and the legislature.

Pretty soon we will see one of their 'Agenda laundering Polls' come out, magically showing the public supports the military and judiciary more than Politicians.

Their MO is predictable.
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Old 04-07-2012, 01:48 AM   #84 (permalink)
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PM: government and army are on good terms : National News Bureau of Thailand

PM: government and army are on good terms

BANGKOK, 3 July 2012 (NNT)-Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said in her statement that her luncheon with Army Commanders was not for a special occassion, citing that the relationship between the government and the Amry remains good.

Ms. Yingluck said that the lunchoen with the Army top brass was held in a regular meeting format. Among the topics discussed was the U-tapoa airbase issue, over which she said the government needed to seek an opinion from the Army whether to allow NASA to use the airport to study the weather in this region.

She added, however, that the issue does not affect the relationship between the Thai and the US Armies, given that the request to use U-tapoa was for scientifice reasons and the recent Thai Army's visit to the US Army and vice versa. She reiterated that the Thai government has always maintained a strong relationship with the US.

Meanwhile, she said she might be traveling to attend the UN conference in September if her schedule allowed. She said it would be a good opportunity to strengthen relationships between Thailand and other countries. In addition, Ms. Yingluck said the government and the Army have always been on good terms despite a few differences in opinions; most importantly, both parties are working for the better of the country.
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Old 04-07-2012, 04:34 AM   #85 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra
the government needed to seek an opinion from the Army
nothing has changed then ......................................
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Old 04-07-2012, 06:18 AM   #86 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StrontiumDog
Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha has been pestered by reporters to comment on the political situation.
That should be made a criminal offence on the statute.

Both if the reporters ask, and if the Army Chief offered a comment.

You can't argue with that
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Old 13-07-2012, 10:23 AM   #87 (permalink)
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Army used snipers, MP says | Bangkok Post: news

Army used snipers, MP says Pheu Thai MP Korkaew Pikulthong has angrily accused the military of using snipers to kill people during the red-shirt protests two years ago.

The outspoken MP and red shirt co-leader took his protest straight to the army chiefs yesterday as defence heads gathered at parliament during a committee debate on the military's budget.

"The crackdowns on the protests in 2010 that killed 91 people remain in the minds of people. Soldiers were cruel. Soldiers brought snipers to kill people indiscriminately," Mr Korkaew said.

"I want the army chief to apologise because he holds the weapons and cannot deny responsibility," he said.

He also accused some groups of soldiers of inciting unrest in the far South to seek a larger slice of the national budget pie.

Mr Korkaew complained that military budgets have increased although the country is not fighting a war.

He was speaking at parliament as the House committee on the national budget considered the military budget.

Mr Korkaew, who is a committee member, took the opportunity to accuse the military of being responsible for the deaths of 91 people during the crackdowns on the red-shirt rallies in 2010.

He was speaking before armed forces leaders, including army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha, the defence permanent secretary and the supreme commander.

Opposition Democrat MPs on the House committee protested against Mr Korkaew's remarks.

The MPs insisted it has not been legally established who carried out the killings in the political violence two years ago.

The Democrat MPs later walked out of the meeting in protest at Mr Korkaew's conduct. The meeting resumed 20 minutes later.

"If the military had really brought snipers there [to the crackdowns], the prime minister and the defence minister should have taken some action. Do not bring colour-coded conflicts into this room," Democrat MP Pichet Phanvichartkul said.
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Old 31-07-2012, 01:23 AM   #88 (permalink)
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Political ploy puts pressure on Prayuth - The Nation

Political ploy puts pressure on Prayuth

Avudh Panananda
The Nation July 31, 2012 1:00 am

Various scenarios for this year's military reshuffle are actually a smokescreen hatched by the government to try and kick Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha upstairs by next year.


A key issue is not the fate of Prayuth, but the politicisation of military affairs. Attempts to wean the military off politics will be in vain if politicians carry on meddling in the Army line-up.

The lesson about the lethal mixture of military and politics is still a recent memory. Former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra groomed his fellow graduates from Pre-Cadet Class 11 to shield his administration from 2001 to 2005.Thaksin's handpicking of favourite officers backfired and drove a wedge through his military allies - about half became disenchanted with his leadership before staging the 2006 coup to oust him.

Last Saturday Defence Minister Sukampol Suwannathat made a personal visit to Hong Kong in order to meet with his political patron Thaksin. Regardless of denials churned out by the government's spin doctors, Sukampol sought and received Thaksin's instruction on the military reshuffle.

Two days later, Sukampol brought two top officers, Army assistant chief General Tanongsak Apirakyotin and Air Force assistant chief Air Chief Marshal Prajin Juntong, to meet Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra at Government House. According to government insiders, Sukampol wanted the PM to get acquainted with the two rising military stars.

Tanongsak is being groomed for the position of Defence permanent secretary, replacing General Sathian Permtong-in after his retirement in September. Prajin is slated to carry the Air Force's torch following the retirement of incumbent head Air Chief Marshal Itthaporn Subhawong.

Although Sukampol chose, presumably with Thaksin's blessing, to unveil two officers groomed for promotion, no one should draw a hasty conclusion that the pair will definitely get these jobs.

Sukampol is no stranger to the game of horse trading with the top brass. It is unrealistic to expect Thaksin and Sukampol to stake everything on two relatively unknown officers.

From the military and political points of view, the ceremonial positions in the Defence Ministry and Air Force should not cause a stir unless they have implications for the Army.

Prajin has an exemplary track record and will likely be promoted without any need for political backing. In his endorsement of Prajin, Sukampol wants to signal that the top commanders should concede "something" in exchange for his willingness to overlook Prajin's linkage to the 2006 coup.

And Sukampol's "something" is evident in his link to Tanongsak. The Army assistant chief is not the most senior and indispensable officer for the top job at Defence. It is uncertain if he will get the job.

But Sukampol has backed him, nonetheless, because he is sending a subtle message to Prayuth. By mentioning Tanongsak, one of the top five generals in the Army, as his choice, he is sending a signal to Prayuth about shuffling the Army's topmost echelons.

As Prayuth is scheduled to retire in 2014, he is reluctant to upset the apple cart by naming his heir-apparent too early before his exit. Sukampol's trick aims to force Prayuth to name his successor now so that the government can elevate him to the ceremonial position of Supreme Commander next year.

Thaksin used the same ploy to ease out the then Army chief General Surayud Chulanont in 2002. In about a month, it will become clear whether Prayuth or Sukampol will come out on top in this game of military musical chairs.
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Old 31-07-2012, 10:02 PM   #89 (permalink)
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Funny how The Nation just can't get its head around even mentioning that maybe it's time the military became subservient to the PEOPLE OF THAILAND and their elected representatives in government. Nope it's all faggy talk about who's more senior and who will rise up with subordinates - just like years gone by - more face whitening cream is needed it seems.
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Old 27-08-2012, 12:28 AM   #90 (permalink)
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Sathian seeks PM's counsel over reshuffle | Bangkok Post: news

Sathian seeks PM's counsel over reshuffle

SUKUMPOL ACCUSED OF INTERFERING Permanent secretary for defence Sathian Phoemthongin has requested a meeting with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to discuss his opposition to the allegedly unlawful choosing of his successor.



In a letter dated Aug 24 and seen by the Bangkok Post Sunday, Gen Sathian requests a talk with the premier and accuses Defence Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat of unauthorised "interference" in the legal procedure to promote senior officers at the general level.

Gen Sathian says in the letter that ACM Sukumpol did not heed his contention that his current deputy, Gen Chatree Thatti, was the most appropriate choice because of his high rank and seniority.

During a meeting of military brass on Aug 17, ACM Sukumpol, insisted on his choice of Gen Thanongsak Apirakyothin, an assistant to the army chief.

As a secretary and member to a committee considering the 2012 promotion of generals, Gen Sathian says he is committed to keeping the promotion in line with the law and has to warn ACM Sukumpol against violating any laws.

In response to Gen Sathian's opposition to Gen Thanongsak's promotion, ACM Sukumpol said if Gen Chatree is nominated, he would "change it" to Gen Thanonosak, the letter claims.

Also, the letter continues, ACM Sukumpol said he would have Gen Thanongsak oversee the list of promoted officers at the general level in place of Gen Sathian.

"I'm ready to be criticised because Gen Thanongsak and I were in the same class," Gen Sathian said in a phone interview with the Bangkok Post Sunday yesterday, referring to the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School (AFAPS).

"But I stick to what's right; otherwise the principle will be damaged. No one can pick people at their will," he said.

"If I let this happen, those who are adversely affected by the reshuffle may sue me. I don't want to go to jail after my retirement," Gen Sathian said, adding he was preparing to forward the issue to the Administrative Court to ask for justice.

ACM Sukumpol said last week that he had the authority to appoint a new permanent secretary for defence.

The minister also said that the military reshuffle and appointment would be made in keeping with the appropriate laws and regulations.

Both Gen Thanongsak, of AFAPS Class 11, and Gen Chatree, of AFAPS Class 14, reportedly have connections with power cliques in the ruling Pheu Thai Party, a source said.

The military reshuffle list must be reviewed by ACM Sukumpol before it is forwarded to Ms Yingluck for final approval.

In opposing ACM Sukumpol, Gen Sathian says his intention is to protect the government. He said he did not want the Yingluck administration to be targeted over suspected interference in the military reshuffle.

"What if there are questions from society? How will the media criticise us? Will the opposition party take the issue to the House? And how will my subordinates look at me?" Gen Sathian asked.

The nomination of generals for promotion must be conducted in a straightforward by the committee, he said, adding he would accept the vote regardless of how it turned out.

A source said Gen Sathian has also discussed his conflict with ACM Sukumpol with Privy Councillor Surayud Chulanont and sent a copy of the list of nominated officers, prepared by the Office of Permanent Secretary, to Privy Council president Gen Prem Tinsulanonda.

ACM Sukumpol reportedly called a meeting with the top brass, including Gen Sathian, on Wednesday to discuss solutions to the military reshuffle conflict.
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Old 27-08-2012, 12:35 AM   #91 (permalink)
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Officials decide, not the govt : Yuthasak - The Nation

Officials decide, not the govt : Yuthasak

Anabpan Deechuay
The Nation August 27, 2012 1:00 am

Yuthasak

Deputy Prime Minister General Yuthasak Sasiprapa dismissed reports yesterday that the government had interfered in the annual military reshuffle.

Yuthasak commented after Defence Ministry permanent secretary Gen Sathien Permthong-in submitted a letter to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra stating that military reshuffle procedures were not carried out in accordance with the Defence Ministry's regulations. Selection for the Defence Ministry permanent secretary's post, for instance, must include the most senior official, General Chatri Thidti.

Sathien's letter stated that Defence Minister Sukampol Suwannathat had said if Chatri was proposed for the post, he would replace him and appoint General Thanongsak Apirakyothin in his place. Sathien also said he would be replaced by Thanongsak, as official in charge of the annual reshuffle list with the Defence Ministry.

Sukampol said yesterday he would talk with Sathien about the matter. But he was evasive on whether he really intended to interfere in the reshuffle.

"I don't want to become news. I can't say anything right now because I want to talk to Sathien first," the minister said.

Yuthasak insisted the military reshuffle was decided by a committee of six officials from the Royal Thai Armed Forces, the three Armed Forces, the Defence Ministry permanent secretary and the Defence Minister. He said all six officials had the right to propose change. He did not think Sathien's protest letter showed a rift between the government and the military. Although Sathien was correct that officials with seniority should be selected to the Defence Ministry permanent secretary post, he said the committee would make the final decision.
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Old 28-08-2012, 02:11 AM   #92 (permalink)
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Top army officers transferred - The Nation

Top army officers transferred

The Nation August 28, 2012 1:00 am

Sathien

Trio sent to inactive posts after Defence secretary complained about minister interfering in the reshuffle

Defence Minister Sukampol Suwannathat yesterday abruptly transferred Defence permanent secretary General Sathien Permthong-in and two other senior officers to inactive posts at the Defence Minister's Office.

Sukampol signed the order - to take immediate effect - at 2.30pm. The move of the three officers came just a few days after Sathien unsuccessfully sought a meeting with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to complain about Sukampol's alleged efforts to interfere in the annual reshuffle of senior military officers.

The two other transferred officers were General Chatree Tatti, deputy permanent secretary, and General Pinphat Siriwat, director of the Defence Secretariat. The three were in charge of compiling the annual military reshuffle list. Deputy permanent secretary General Witthawas Rachata-nan was made acting permanent secretary of Defence.

In his order, Sukampol said the moves were made for the sake of "orderliness" in administration of the ministry.

Sukampol left his office at 3pm without giving interviews to reporters.

According to Sathien's letter to Yingluck, which was intercepted by PM's Secretary-General Suranand Vejjajiva, Sathien said Sukampol ordered him to nominate Army assistant chief General Thanongsak Apirakyotin as the new permanent secretary to replace Sathien, who will retire at the end of next month.

Sathien said in the letter that Sukampol gave the order during a meeting on August 17 when the minister summoned commanders of the armed forces to consult on the annual military reshuffle.

Sathien said the minister ordered him in front of other armed forces commanders to nominate Thanongsak to the position without convening the seven-member ministerial panel in charge of vetting job assignments. Sathien voiced concern that bypassing the panel, which comprises Sukampol, the four armed forces commanders, the Defence Secretariat director and the permanent secretary, would allow Sukampol to change the reshuffle lists of the four armed forces on his own.

Military sources said Sathien disagreed with Sukampol over the choice of Sathien's successor as well, because Sathien wanted his deputy, Chatree, to succeed him.

Some political observers believe Sathien raised the allegations against Sukampol in order to create a perception that the government has conflicts with the military. Sathien was prompted to do this, the observers believe, out of bitterness toward former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who has reportedly ignored Sathien and no longer favours him.

Well-informed Pheu Thai sources said Sukampol wanted to nominate Thanongsak to the post of defence permanent secretary in order to demonstrate to Thaksin that Sukampol is in control of the armed forces.

The sources said Sukampol felt insecure and feared he could be removed as the defence minister because he could not weaken the unity of military leaders. Sukampol is the government's only vote inside the Council of Defence and was always beaten in the voting by the panel. He wanted to appoint Thanongsak, who is seen as close to him and siding with Pheu Thai, to become the permanent secretary so that he would have more votes on the panel, they said.

After learning of the transfer order, Sathien said he was not sorry to be moved - as he had stood up for what he believed was right.

Asked by reporters if the move was interference in military affairs by politicians, Sathien said: "I don't know. But I have done the right thing. It was fine, but later on the armed forces could face the same fate as me." He declined to say whether he would file a complaint against the defence minister.

Chatree said he didn't know the reason for his transfer. He said he had nothing to do with compiling the reshuffle list. He was just a candidate for the post of permanent secretary.

Chatree said he would consult with legal experts on whether he could file a complaint about the move, if it was deemed unfair.

Sukampol's order to transfer the permanent secretary prompted an attack on the government by a military senator and the opposition, which accused it of politicising military affairs. Appointed Senator General Somjet Boonthanom said the sudden move of Sathien would start conflicts between the government and the armed forces and could create a crisis for the government.

Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said Sukampol was trying to drag the armed forces into politics.

"The government should respect the intention of the Defence Ministry Administration Act and should not drag any mechanism or institution into politics for any interest," said Abhisit, who is also opposition leader.

Democrat party-list MP Kowit Tharana said Sukampol appeared to have been corrupted by power and would not stop, even though Sathien had exposed his plan to intervene in the military reshuffle.

Sukampol had damaged the military and ruined the future of a good military officer who was due to retire in just a month, Kowit said.
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Old 28-08-2012, 02:13 AM   #93 (permalink)
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Row spotlights lack of trust between the Army and govt - The Nation

Row spotlights lack of trust between the Army and govt

Avudh Panananda
The Nation August 28, 2012 1:00 am

The bickering between Defence Minister Sukampol Suwannathat and his permanent secretary, General Sathien Permtong-in, is just the tip of an iceberg, but fortunately the government has thwarted a potential collision with the military.


The iceberg in question is the dispensing of assignments in the annual military reshuffle. And the tip of that iceberg is the picking of a successor to Sathien, who is due for mandatory retirement next month.

Even though Sukampol decided yesterday to move Sathien to the PM's Office, the two still have a good chance to patch up their differences.

The two have no personal grudges against one another. Both men and their close aides are loyal allies of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. They are also seen as close to the red-shirt movement.

For about a month, Sukampol has repeatedly hinted that he wants Army assistant chief General Tanongsak Apirakyotin to succeed Sathien.

Sathien had not reacted to Sukampol's choice until last week. According to his aides, he is pushing for his deputy, General Chatree Tatti, as successor.

Neither Sukampol nor Sathien have formally nominated their respective candidates, hence many see possible doors for negotiations.

Aides of the two have already circulated the name of Chief of Joint Staff General Worapong Sanganet as an alternate candidate.

The picking of Sathien's successor would not have attracted public attention if Sathien did not request a meeting with PM Yingluck Shinawatra.

The PM's secretary-general Suranand Vejjajiva made a timely intervention to say Yingluck's schedule was too busy, and urged the issue be settled within the Defence Ministry.

Suranand correctly pointed out that Yingluck's involvement would only lead to further politicisation of the issue.

If Sathien's memo sent to the prime minister last week is any indication, the contentious issue between him and Sukampol is not about who his successor should be but the manner in which the candidate for the job is chosen.

It is common knowledge in military circles that Sukumpol has circulated Tanongsak's name after consulting with Thaksin. And Sathien has no reason to rebel against his allies Sukampol and Thaksin.

It is noteworthy that Sathien drafted his memorandum after a crucial meeting of the Defence Council, in which military leaders rallied behind Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha.

At that meeting, military leaders made it clear to the government that they would not tolerate any political attempts to weaken the armed forces as an institution.

The meeting took place amid a blame game in which soldiers are being portrayed as killers of the people in the 2010 political strife.

Further, suspicion has lingered for two months that Thaksin is executing a ploy to kick Prayuth "upstairs" once Supreme Commander General Tanasak Patimapragorn retires next year.

Sathien's questioning of Sukampol's instruction to name the new permanent secretary and bypass the ministerial panel in charge of vetting job assignments confirms the distrust between the military establishment and the government.

Judging from his remarks in seeking to see Yingluck, Sathien voiced suspicion Sukampol may tamper with military assignments in order to alter the proposed nominations made by the military leaders. This could be done only if Sukampol is allowed to bypass the ministerial panel.

But the brewing storm should blow over if Sukampol can convince military leaders of his pure intent in dispensing job assignments.
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Old 28-08-2012, 12:06 PM   #94 (permalink)
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Defence makes unmeritocratic mess of things | Bangkok Post: opinion

Defence makes unmeritocratic mess of things The war within the Defence Ministry between the minister himself and his subordinate, the defence permanent secretary, has not only shaken the ranks but raised a thorny question about the state of meritocracy in Thailand.

Army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha usually leaves people seething with his blunt and often overly emotional responses to questions. But for once, his soldier-style bluntness is right on the mark. It's simply embarrassing for the military to have its people be seen fighting one another for a promotion.

Indeed, it's embarrassing for every profession. Why? Because when it comes to rewards or promotion, the decision to go by the merit system should have been adopted long ago.

I understand there are still diverse views about what the "merit" should constitute and how can they be evaluated fairly. Should merit include levels of education? Or should it be tied more to professional competency?

Each organisation can debate and define what it wants to include in its merit system but at least it should have been agreed by and large that personal connections or personal preferences have no role in the reward or reshuffle system.

The reality, however, is that the annual reshuffle list of the military or police force has always made big news in this country.

Why? Because it's always controversial and it's always followed by speculation about who has the backing of whom and is getting pushed there to serve whose interest.

Take this as an example. Earlier last week, Achirawit Suphanphesat, a former deputy police chief who sits on the Police Commission, complained that politicians are interfering in the reshuffle of police commanders.

About 80 police commander posts will be up for grabs in this reshuffle and the commission is authorised to take care of it.

Pol Gen Achirawit, however, said that as it turns out, politicians, policymakers and administrative figures (whoever they are) sent their lists of people they wanted appointed to the commission, apparently not for the commission to consider but to simply approve.

There is no question that the use of connections is bad. And all of us can support Pol Gen Achirawit when he said that these politicians should not expect that every single one of their requests will be honoured and that the police themselves should be free to make the final decision on who is most suitable for the positions.

But things get a bit complicated when Pol Gen Achirawit admitted himself that the police reshuffle is based on both merit, seniority and the patronage system. To be precise, only 33% of the transfers are based on merit, he said.

My question is this: what is "the patronage system"? Is it a kind of "quota" for politicians, policy makers and administrative figures (whoever they are)? If so, why must it be there?

The latest row at the Defence Ministry provokes similar questions. News reports say both Defence Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat and permanent secretary for defence Sathian Phoemthongin insisted they have the right to choose the new permanent defence secretary.

Both also claim that their choice _ assistant to the army chief Thanongsak Apirakyothin for ACM Sukumpol and deputy permanent secretary for defence Chatree Thatti in the case of Gen Sathian _ best suits the post.
Gen Sathian said his choice is most appropriate because Gen Chatree has both seniority and a high rank.

Likewise, ACM Sukumpol said his nomination is the best one because Gen Thanongsak is a senior officer capable of coordinating defence affairs.

Haven't they established a clear set of criteria at the Defence Ministry regarding the qualifications of its permanent secretary by now? With proper weightings and scores?

The thing about the reshuffle and promotions is "appropriateness" is always in the eyes of the beholder. That's why the people in power need to put in place a clear set of what exact expectations a candidate must meet beforehand in order to quell questions and controversies that may rise after the fact.

More importantly, it's not like the Defence Ministry has never been through these conflicts before. In fact, it went through exactly the same dilemma last year when then defence minister, Gen Yutthasak Sasiprapa, and then retiring permanent defence secretary, Gen Kittipong Kesakowit, differed in their choices for the permanent secretary post.

Will the Defence Ministry learn to avoid repeating this conflict? If not, it would seem that continued lack of clarity is but one of its strategic positions.


Atiya Achakulwisut
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Old 28-08-2012, 12:10 PM   #95 (permalink)
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A real case for civilian control | Bangkok Post: opinion

EDITORIAL

A real case for civilian control There is more than a little irony in the battle between the defence minister and a permanent secretary over the annual military retirement and shuffle.

Gen Sathian Phoemthongin has appealed to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra over the issue. He has detailed his battle of wills and authority with Defence Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat over who will succeed him on Oct 1.

In effect, Gen Sathian wants the prime minister to interfere to back his strong contention that the government has no right to interfere. But Ms Yingluck has made it clear that she will leave the issue for the Defence Council and the defence minister to decide.

The battle between the two military men is public confirmation of one of the facts of Thai politics. The armed forces continue to reject civilian, government control. Oct 1 marks the day that all officers who are 60 years old move out. The resulting upward surge of senior general-officer ranks is often contentious. The contest between Gen Sathian and ACM Sukumpol could become a classic.

The story background, briefly, is that both men want their favourite officer to be promoted to replace Gen Sathian, who is retiring and now temporarily transferred to the Defence Ministry's Office. Gen Sathian has chosen Gen Chatree Thatti, who is currently deputy permanent secretary for defence. Gen Sathian's argument, which he wants to make personally to the prime minister, is that Gen Chatree has the rank and seniority that should be rewarded by promotion.

ACM Sukumpol wants to promote an assistant to the army commander, Gen Thanongsak Apirakyothin. The reason, according to Gen Sathian, is that Gen Thanongsak is personally loyal to the defence minister. ACM Sukumpol has not disputed this analysis. The defence minister must sign off on the reshuffle list after the go-ahead of the Defence Council and pass it to the prime minister for final approval. ACM Sukumpol stated he will change any listing from Gen Chatree to Gen Thanongsak _ and thus Gen Sathian's direct appeal, through the media, to Ms Yingluck.

Those who have followed this story carefully note a few items never mentioned. Neither of the feuding general officers has claimed that his candidate is the best qualified to be the new permanent secretary. Gen Sathian says Gen Chatree is a long-serving officer, while ACM Sukumpol baldly wants a close ally.

Gen Sathian, meanwhile, seems to ignore the rigid chain of command in place. He protests the "interference" of the defence minister in the military reshuffle. In the next breath, he demands that the defence minister's boss interfere directly in the military reshuffle. He is appealing, in fact, for greater democracy, where military officers serve at the pleasure of the government, and are subject to its orders.

In fact, at all military ranks, but particularly at the very top, the nation deserves the best military leadership, not the men with the best personal and political connections. The yearly sight of crony politics in the October promotion lists is an unpleasant confirmation that the men in the top ranks are feathering their own and each others' nests.

It also confirms that the military is, in fact, incapable of attending to so-called internal matters. By battling with one cabinet minister and appealing to the prime minister herself, Gen Sathian shows _ in fact demands _ that so-called "interference" by the government is necessary.
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Old 28-08-2012, 12:12 PM   #96 (permalink)
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Sukumpol transfers dissenters | Bangkok Post: news

Sukumpol transfers dissenters

Sathian among 3 ousted over reshuffle conflict Defence Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat yesterday transferred three generals who opposed his choice for the new defence permanent secretary to inactive posts.


Permanent secretary for defence Sathian Phoemthongin waves to reporters after being transferred to an inactive post by Defence Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat. APICHIT JINAKUL

Under his order issued yesterday afternoon, defence permanent secretary Sathian Phoemthongin, his deputy Chatree Thatti and director-general of the Secretariat Department Pinpas Sariwat were moved to "assist" at the defence minister's office. The order took effect immediately.

ACM Sukumpol told reporters later the order was intended to streamline the work of the Defence Ministry.

He said it was not right for Gen Sathian to make the Defence Ministry's internal affairs public.

Under the same order, the minister ordered deputy defence permanent secretary Withawat Ratchatanant to act on Gen Sathian's behalf.

Deputy defence permanent secretary Rungrat Bunyaratpan was assigned to act on behalf of Gen Chatree, while Charn Komolhiran, deputy director-general of the Secretariat Department, will act on behalf of Gen Pinpas.

ACM Sukumpol said he will explain his actions further today.

A source close to the defence minister said the three transferred generals had drafted a letter to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to complain about ACM Sukumpol's alleged interference with the selection of the new defence permanent secretary.

Gen Sathian, who will retire at the end of next month, wants Gen Chatree to succeed him, but ACM Sukumpol wants the position to go to assistant army chief Thanongsak Apirakyothin.

Gen Sathian also lodged complaints with Privy Council president Prem Tinsulanonda and Privy Councillor Surayud Chulanont.

Gen Sathian looked calm as he left his office at 4.30pm yesterday. He told reporters that he had to speak out about problems at the ministry because his commander was doing wrong.

"I only do what is right. I do not mind being treated this way. The armed forces chiefs will face the same fate. I am the precedent," Gen Sathian said.

He declined to comment when asked if he would petition against the transfer.

Yesterday, Gen Chatree said he was unsure why he was transferred.

He admitted he was close to Gen Sathian because he was his deputy and had worked with him for a long time.

"I will ask legal experts if it is possible to petition," Gen Chatree said.

Gen Thanongsak will retire next year. He is a member of Class 11 of the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School.

Gen Chatree is a member of Class 14 and will retire in 2015. He may be appointed a deputy supreme commander to pave the way for Gen Thanongsak to become the next defence permanent secretary.

ACM Sukumpol will convene a committee tasked with the appointment and reshuffle of generals at the Defence Ministry this Thursday to finalise the nomination of the new defence permanent secretary.

The committee comprises himself, the defence permanent secretary, the supreme commander and the three armed forces chiefs. An acting defence permanent secretary, who has yet to be appointed, will attend the meeting in place of Gen Sathian.

Supreme Commander Thanasak Patimaprakorn, army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha and navy chief Surasak Runroengrom support Gen Thanongsak as the next defence permanent secretary.

No one knows who air force chief ACM Itthaporn Subhawong backs.

ACM Itthaporn will retire next month. He is a member of Class 11 at the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School like Gen Sathian and Gen Thanongsak.

Gen Thanasak will convene a meeting of the armed forces chiefs tomorrow to ensure they share the same stance.
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Old 28-08-2012, 12:14 PM   #97 (permalink)
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Yutthasak urges Sukumpol to explain | Bangkok Post: breakingnews

Yutthasak urges Sukumpol to explain

Defence Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat should explain the transfer of Gen Sathian Phoemthongin, the defence permanent secretary, and two other generals to inactive posts at the defence minister's office to the Defence Council, Deputy Prime Minister Yutthasak Sasiprapa said on Tuesday.

The two other officers also transferred along with Gen Sathian are Gen Chatree Thatti, a deputy defence permanent secretary, and Gen Pinpas Sariwat, director-general of the Secretariat Department.

Gen Yutthasak said ACM Sukumpol should call an extraordinary meeting of the Defence Council to explain his action.

He believed the matter would not affect the government if the defence minister could clearly explain it.

Gen Yutthasak himself declined to comment, saying that he needed to look into Articles 5, 9 and 25 of the Defence Administration Act.

He said the transfer was not permanent as the three officers would be only on temporary duty at the defence minister's office.

The transfer of the three officers was unlikely to affect the preparation of the annual military reshuffle list as there was still four more weeks to finish it.

Concerning the structure of the southern command centre, Gen Yutthasak said the it was still being examined by the Council of State.

National Security Council chief Wichean Potephosree would nominate the name of the centre's secretary-general for him to approve before forwarding it to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra for consideration, he said.

Opposition and Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said ACM Sukumpol, the defence minister, was required to give a clear explanation of the transfer of three generals otherwise it could demoralise government officials as a whole.

Mr Abhisit said the defence minister should be careful in exercising his power, adding that power abuse could mar the political atmosphere and the country's security affairs.

The opposition leader also urged the prime minister to look closely into this matter.

On a suggestion that a coup rumour usually followed whenever the armed forces were politically interfered with, Mr Abhisit said there should not be any more coup.

However, politicians must uphold moral principle and refrain from destroying the general systems.
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Old 28-08-2012, 05:52 PM   #98 (permalink)
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Sukumpol defends action | Bangkok Post: breakingnews

Sukumpol defends action Defence Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat insisted he ordered the transfer of defence permanent secretary Sathian Phoemthongin and two other top officers to assist work at his office for the sake of work efficiency.

ACM Sukumpol said he has the power according to the law to take such action.

The defence minister said this at a press conference at the instruction of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who said ACM Sukumpol acted on his own without consulting her.

In ACM Sukumpol's order issued yesterday, Gen Sathian, Gen Chatree Thatti, one of his deputies, and Gen Pinpas Sariwat, director-general of the Secretariate Department of the Office of the Permanent Secretary for Defence, were transferred to assist work at the defence minister's office.

The transfer of the three officers was to facilitate the ministry's work, following some problems, he said.

He likened himself to the manager of a football team and Gen Sathian the trainer. Changes could be made if things went wrong.

ACM Sukumpol said he acted out of honesty. In his opinion, the process of appointing and transferring of government officials, which has not been concluded, is an internal affair which should not be brought to outsiders.

He said a complaint should not have been made to the prime minister before the end of the process.

"I am not glad to have transferred them. I see it as a shameful thing which happened to the Defence Ministry. During the past weeks I had been accused of interfering in the work of permanent officials. My explanation to the media this time would be the last. I would not talk over this matter again.

"As a soldier, I must be decisive. Those who disobey should go," ACM Sukumpol said.

On a report that he wanted Gen Thanongsak Apirakyothin, the assistant army chief, to take the post of defence permanent secretary, ACM Sukumpol said he had never said who would be picked for the post.

He said he would call a meeting of the committee preparing the military reshuffle list once again, but Gen Sathian would not have the right to attend. He would be replaced in the committee by Gen Witwas Rachatanont, a deputy permanent secretary, who is acting for the permanent secretary.
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Old 30-08-2012, 01:12 AM   #99 (permalink)
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Check the facts first : Yuthasak - The Nation

Check the facts first : Yuthasak

The Nation August 30, 2012 1:00 am

Yutthasak

Critics should check all the facts before coming out against the nomination of a certain individual for permanent secretary of the Defence Ministry, Deputy Prime Minister Yuthasak Sasiprapha said yesterday.

The nomination was in accordance with precedents and the Defence Ministry Act, he said in reference to the reported positioning of assistant Army chief Tanongsak Apirakyotin as the successor to General Sathian Permtong-in.

If Defence Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat picked Tanongsak, then he did not break from prescribed procedures because the post of permanent secretary can by law be filled by a four- or five-star general, he said.

In 1998, Teeradej Meepien, a four-star general heading the War Veterans Organisation of Thailand, was appointed to the position, he said. Tanongsak had the seniority for the office since both he and Sathian were Pre-Cadet Class 11 graduates, he said.

The deputy PM said if he were Sukumpol, he would worry not about the Tanongsak nomination but the regulations leading to that nomination.

"Sukumpol should check pertinent provisions, particularly Article 25 of the Defence Administrative Act," he said. The annual military reshuffle, including the nomination in question, must be vetted and approved by the seven-member ministerial panel in charge of dispensing job assignments, he said.

The permanent secretary is an ex-officio member of the panel but Sukumpol just put Sathian on secondment following a row with him, so there's a question about acting permanent secretary General Viddhavat Rajatanun sitting on the panel in Sathian's place, he said.

Sukumpol should ensure he had the mandate to allow Viddhavat to take part in the review, otherwise the drawing up of the new roster might hit a snag, he added.
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Old 31-08-2012, 01:26 AM   #100 (permalink)
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Pinpas tells Sukumpol he's sorry | Bangkok Post: news

Pinpas tells Sukumpol he's sorry

Seeks forgiveness with flowers and a candle Secretariat Department director-general Pinpas Sariwat raised some eyebrows yesterday when he made an elaborate and formal apology to Defence Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat over the military reshuffle row.


Secretariat Department director-general Pinpas Sariwat performs a wai as a gesture of apology to ACM Sukumpol Suwanatat at the defence minister’s office.

The move followed ACM Sukumpol's order transferring Gen Pinpas, permanent secretary Sathian Phoemthongin and deputy permanent secretary Chatree Thatti to work in his office at the Defence Ministry.

ACM Sukumpol cited a leak of the military reshuffle list to justify the transfers amid reports that the three senior officials were opposed to his choice for the new defence permanent secretary.

The defence minister backs assistant army chief Gen Thanongsak Apirakyothin as the permanent secretary, while the senior officers support deputy defence permanent secretary Gen Chatree.

Gen Pinpas turned up at the defence minister's office with flowers, a candle and joss sticks and asked to see ACM Sukumpol to apologise.

Gen Pinpas said after the meeting that the defence minister's order was in compliance with procedures and that he had acted within his power.

"I accept blame and I am repentant for what I've done. We're brothers and it's good to know he has forgiven me," he said.

ACM Sukumpol said yesterday that the transfer order stands, adding that he holds no grudges against the officer.

In his order, he made deputy defence permanent secretary Withawat Ratchatanant acting defence permanent secretary.

Gen Withawat will also sit on the appointment and reshuffle committee in place of Gen Sathian.

Deputy Prime Minister Yutthasak Sasiprapa yesterday told ACM Sukumpol to make sure he did not violate any regulations when appointing the acting defence permanent secretary to the military reshuffle committee.

Gen Yutthasak said his concern involves the 1968 Defence Ministry regulation involving management of human resources.

"I don't know if the acting permanent secretary can perform the duty of permanent secretary. He needs to carefully study it," Gen Yutthasak said.

He said that he has raised the matter with ACM Sukumpol who insists that he has acted in line with regulations.

Gen Yutthasak said he has recommended that ACM Sukumpol call a meeting with the Defence Council to clarify the matter.

Gen Yutthasak said the defence minister must have a good reason to nominate Gen Thanongsak as the new permanent secretary.

Army commander Prayuth Chan-ocha yesterday declined to comment on the transfers, saying they were within the authority of the defence minister and there is a law governing the use of such power.

He shrugged off Gen Sathian's warning that the armed forces leaders may find themselves in a similar situation.

"Who would do that when I've done nothing wrong?" he said.

Gen Prayuth said political interference cannot be totally ruled out in the military reshuffle because the defence minister is a political appointee.

The army chief said the reshuffle list is prepared by the armed forces but it requires review by the Defence Ministry's board. He also said that the choice of the new permanent secretary has not been finalised.

Opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva yesterday criticised ACM Sukumpol's move, saying it may not be justified.

"State officials are obliged to implement government policy. By policy, it is about national administration, not political goals," he said. "I don't see how the transferred officials did anything that obstructs the policy."

Democrat list-MP Ong-art Klampaibul said the transfers indicated clear political interference in the military reshuffle.

He said there had been attempts to amend the Defence Act to allow politicians to have a say in the military reshuffle but they failed.
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