Originally published on Channel NewsAsia on November 13, 2017
Thai Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-ocha has invited citizens to give their two cents about Thailand's political future again. This time it's six questions about the Thai junta's own governance and what they think about elected politicians. But critics say the questions are suggestive and are an excuse to find a reason to cling onto power.
Thai Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-Ocha has invited citizens again give their views on another six questions he posed, concerning the future of Thai politics.
The six questions can be summarized up with whether or not people are satisfied with the performance of the Thai military government, which has been in power since the 2014 coup and what their opinions are of political parties and elected officials.
Now, with any political activity by other political parties still being banned, the government insists that this form of survey are merely to get a sense, to get a feedback of what people are thinking. But it has also sparked a lot of criticism, especially from political parties, saying that the government is trying to find an excuse to cling on to power.
DR. TITIPOL PHAKDEEWANICH, Dean Faculty of Political Science, Ubon Ratchathani University
“I think it’s meant to continue to discredit politicians in Thailand this kind of syncronizes with the previous rhetoric before the coup, because if you look at the protests before the coup, people were attracted by the rhetoric of ‘bad politicians’ and ‘we have a bad system and now we have to remove them’, so we need a kind what they call in Thailand a ‘khon dee’ - a good person - to be in charge, so we can purify the political system. ”
Those interested can come to one of these 'Soon Dhamrongdhamma', which is a sort of a civil complaint center here in Bangkok and all across the country and they can come in here and fill out this form, but they have to do it the old fashioned way with pen and paper, but they also have to identify themselves with their names on the form itself.
This is could be one of the of the reasons why not may people are coming to one of these centers and this could also be the reason why earlier this year there weren’t many people either, when PM Prayuth was posing 4 questions about Thailand’s political future. Now, the results of that public survey have never been publicly disclosed or even mentioned ever since.
In October, PM Prayuth announced that democratic elections will take place in November 2018. That is, after multiple delays, the most concrete date for new polls so far.
Most recently, the government has failed to deny or reject persistent speculation of setting up their own political party to compete in elections, and that’s why these six questions come in at a very peculiar time.
Saksith Saiyasombut, Channel NewsAsia, Bangkok