Thai Army chief General Apirat Kongsompong during a special lecture at the Thai army headquarters in Bangkok, Thailand, 11 October 2019, about the role of the military in maintaining national security. -- EPA/NARONG SANGNAK

BANGKOK: Thailand army chief should not have accused opposition figures and academics of information warfare without evidence during a speech to hundreds of guests on Friday and instead must be neutral.

"As the army commander, he must remain politically neutral and avoid orchestrating a political messaging strategy targeting particular groups of people," urged The Bangkok Post in its editorial.

The paper described the general's opinion as 'a lecture' that should never have been given by any army chief, accusing "the left" and young people as threatening national security and the monarchy.

The criticism by General Apirat Kongsompong was made to be sensational and a biased political message, said the paper.

Apirat made his remark with less than three months after direct military rule officially ended in Thailand though the new civilian administration is led by the former army chief who overthrew the previous elected government.

The paper further stressed: "However, the fact that he deliberately arranged a 1.5-hour presentation, dominated by a string of highly charged political messages, in front of about 500 invited guests, may have sent a chill down many spines about what he actually has in mind.

"By suggesting that "senior academics" have teamed up with the young "extreme left" to create information warfare with the ultimate goal of toppling the highest institution, the army chief portrayed them as people with implanted "communist chips".

"This is similar to the dangerous propaganda tactic used by the state in the lead-up to the Oct 6, 1976 massacre of student activists. It should never be revisited."

The paper was referring to the Thammasat University massacre (in Thailand known simply as the 6 October event) when state forces and paramilitaries attacked student protesters which resulted in 46 deaths.

Apirat also did not provide solid evidence for accusing a new threat to national security when he alleged that the academics were implanting "wrong thoughts" into the minds of young people.

It is believed that he was referring to Future Forward Party (FFP) leader,Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit.

Last week, the military filed a sedition case against Thanathorn and others, accusing them of stirring unrest with talk of amending the 2017 constitution written by allies of the military, so police can explain to the committee. Not on the arrest themselves.