A member of Thai junta warned the U.S. ambassador to the country to watch his words Monday, in response to remarks made by envoy Glyn Davies last week on Thailand’s harsh lèse mejesté law.
The Bangkok Post reported that Ambassador Davies, in an address to the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand on Nov. 25, criticized the military regime for “the lengthy and unprecedented prison sentences handed down” under the law, which exists ostensibly to protect the standing of the Thai royal family but in practice is used to stifle political opposition.
In response, junta deputy leader Prawit Wongsuwon advised Davies to “think carefully before he speaks,” the Post reports. The ambassador’s remarks also sparked protests by hard-line nationalists outside the U.S. embassy.
Junta strongman Prayuth Chan-ocha hinted that trade ties between Washington and Bangkok could be affected if such remarks were repeated, the Post says.
Relations between Thailand and the U.S. have been strained since the junta seized power in the May 2014 coup, while Bangkok’s relations with Beijing have grown noticeably warmer.
“I don’t spend any time, saying to Washington here’s how we get Thailand back. We haven’t lost Thailand [to Beijing],” Davies said, according to the Post.