Thai junta leader gets military Singapore award

The Nation
18 Aug 07

The commander-in-chief of the Royal Thai Army, General Sonthi Boonyaratglin, received on Friday a prestigious military award from Singapore Defence Minister Teo Chee Hean.

The Meritorious Service Medal was awarded to Sonthi in recognition of his contributions toward enhancing the strong ties between the Singapore and Thai armies, the defence ministry said in a statement.

“The two armies engage in a wide spectrum of activities,” ranging from bilateral exercises to regular professional exchanges and attendance at each other’s courses, boosting the comradeship between the officers and men, it added.

Sonthi led a coup on September 19, 2006, overthrowing the elected government of then prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Sonthi had previously angered Singapore when he suggested that the city-state could be using telecom satellites Thailand had sold Singapore to eavesdrop on private conversations of the Thai military.

He ordered military officials to give up their cell phones in favor of walkie-talkies to prevent any espionage, and suggested the Thai government should take back the four satellites.

Singapore had strongly denied the eavesdropping allegations.

Sonthi, who was scheduled to call on Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong later Friday, has met with Teo and other military officials during his visit which started on Thursday.

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