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Politics

Thailand Inc. cozies up to the junta

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Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha arrives at a weekly cabinet meeting at Government House in Bangkok on May 16.   © Reuters

BANGKOK Under the banner of expanding forest cover, Thailand's military regime has stealthily deployed troops on missions over a wide swath of remote terrain. They have shown up in fatigues, often in convoys, and usually armed with official notices. During one stretch of this nearly two-year campaign, the Internal Security Operations Command, a military unit formerly used to suppress communists during the Cold War, even posted photos of the deployments online.

This unusual priority for the generals, flagged soon after they seized power in a May 2014 coup, earned initial praise from some conservationists as well as from conservative backers of the putsch. They cheered as the regime used a draconian martial law to kick out wealthy owners of resorts, holiday villas and sporting ventures illegally built in protected natural reserves after fiddling with land deeds.

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