Ambassador Glyn T. Davies’ statement to the press following his farewell call with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Prawit
September 13, 2018
Ministry of Defense, Bangkok, Thailand
I had a very good meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister. This was my farewell call on him. We reviewed a number of issues that are important to both Thailand and the United States. I thanked him for the strength of the U.S.-Thai military-to-military relationship. We reviewed his visit to the United States. I thanked him very much for allowing the United States of America to participate in the recent successful rescue of the Wild Boars. We were greatly honored to play a very small role under Thai leadership, and are so happy there was a successful outcome there.
Now what I would like to do is take questions, and I will try to answer them for you.
Q: Did you see any progress on democracy in Thailand?
A: We had a good lengthy exchange about the step that was taken yesterday, the King’s endorsement of the final organic laws, which now begins a process that will lead – we all hope, all the friends of Thailand who want Thailand to be strong and successful to elections early next year. I think now that is set in motion, and this is very important. As a friend of the Kingdom for 200 years, America really fundamentally only wants some very basic things for the Kingdom: that it be strong, that it remain independent and sovereign, and free as a nation, that the people of Thailand can participate fully in the political life of their country, debate the issues respectfully and peacefully, so that next year when the elections happen, there can be elected a civilian government that will reflect the will of the Thai people. This is the wish of the United States of America. We are an old democracy. Democracy for us has been a successful form of government, and in my travels around the kingdom, in about 45 provinces, I have learned just how much the people of Thailand love their country, how much they want their country to succeed. This is a wish Americans share very deeply with them. Now this process, moving forward, will allow for elections that we hope will be free and fair, and will include a respectful debate among Thai citizens – open political debate, freedom of speech, assembly, and the media – so that the process can occur in good order and elections happen early next year.
Q: Can we know about who will be the new Ambassador?
A: In our American system, presidents appoint ambassadors. What will happen next, I am certain at some point – I hope soon – is that there will be an announcement from the White House of my successor. I leave the Kingdom in about two weeks. I am very sad about that, but I am trying to stay positive about it. I stay positive [because] we have [had] such a wonderful three years in the Kingdom of Thailand. What a beautiful rich place, blessed with so many excellent qualities, the most important of which are the 68 million people of the Kingdom, who – all of them – have been so wonderfully welcoming to me, as my wife and I have traveled around the Kingdom. [So it’s] going to be very sad to say goodbye. But I am hoping to be back. I first came in 1970 as a 14 –year-old boy and I first fell in love with Thailand then. What a great gift to me from my government to be allowed to come here to represent my country, the United States of America, here in Bangkok, in Thailand, which has been such a good friend of America, and such a good partner, for the last two centuries.
Q: If General Prayut comes back again to be the PM after the new election, what is your comment?
It is not for me to predict the future or to comment on hypotheticals in the future. I’ve said how important we think it is that the process now move forward. This is a quite positive step that was taken yesterday, setting in motion this process. We will see what develops, what takes place in the future. But after three years here, having seen and been part of so many historic events — the year of mourning for His late Majesty, the cremation ceremony, the new King gracing us by coming to open our celebration of 200 Years of Friendship, and then finally the Wild Boars – I leave with great confidence, great positive feelings, great hope for this Kingdom. May Thailand always be free, independent, strong, and prosperous. May the people of Thailand be happy and play a full role in the political life of their country. These are the only wishes that I have going forward.