Prayut fears re­form work will go to pot

Govt de­fends 6 queries amid grow­ing back­lash

Bangkok Post - - FRONT PAGE - POST RE­PORTERS

The six ques­tions on fu­ture gov­er­nance posed to the gen­eral pub­lic by Prime Min­is­ter Prayut Chan-o-cha are de­signed to high­light that the govern­ment’s ef­forts to re­form the na­tion in the wake of the 2014 coup will not go to waste af­ter next Novem­ber’s gen­eral elec­tion, the regime said yes­ter­day.

Govt spokesman Sansern Kaewkam­n­erd made the re­mark af­ter crit­ics blasted the pre­mier for pos­ing the ques­tions — par­tic­u­larly the one about whether the Na­tional Coun­cil for Peace and Or­der (NCPO) has the right to sup­port a po­lit­i­cal party — which some pun­dits see as a po­lit­i­cal ruse aimed at ex­tend­ing the power of Gen Prayut and the rul­ing junta.

Lt Gen Sansern said the pre­mier merely wanted to show how the work un­der­taken by the regime over the past three years will ben­e­fit the na­tion, and that the ques­tions aim to de­ter­mine whether the pub­lic agrees.

Some 1.1 mil­lion peo­ple re­sponded to a pre­vi­ous round of four ques­tions on a sim­i­lar theme posed by Gen Prayut in late May, ac­cord­ing to data gath­ered from the govern­ment com­plaint cen­tres na­tion­wide.

How­ever, early re­ports from the first two days of an­swer-col­lect­ing for this batch sug­gested a lower turnout.

Me­dia re­ports that emerged yes­ter­day al­leged that lo­cal com­mu­nity lead­ers have now been or­dered to visit the com­plaint cen­tres and fill in the ques­tion forms re­gard­less of whether they want to.

Lt Gen Sansern said Gen Prayut is keen to know whether the pub­lic would be dis­ap­pointed if politi­cians who come to power af­ter the next gen­eral elec­tion ig­nore all the work and mea­sures ini­ti­ated by the cur­rent regime.

He said the the prime min­is­ter is cu­ri­ous what he should do to keep these mea­sures in­tact, ac­cord­ing to the pub­lic’s per­cep­tion.

“The prime min­is­ter would def­i­nitely find it re­gret­table if all the work he has ini­ti­ated does not pan out as planned. When he [staged the coup], he did not want all the sub­se­quent ef­fort to be wasted,” Lt Gen Sansern said.

The spokesman urged the pub­lic to con­trib­ute their opin­ions and of­fer ideas about how to best pre­serve the govern­ment’s ini­tia­tives.

Deputy Prime Min­is­ter and De­fence Min­is­ter Prawit Wong­su­won de­nied yes­ter­day the claim by Demo­crat Party leader Ab­hisit Ve­j­ja­jiva that com­mu­nity lead­ers have been or­dered to an­swer the ques­tions.

Af­ter Bhum­jaithai Party leader Anutin Charn­vi­rakul said he found the ques­tions “in­sult­ing” to politi­cians, Gen Prawit in­sisted the NCPO is on friendly terms with all of the po­lit­i­cal par­ties and does not favour one over the oth­ers.

He also dis­missed talk that his ques­tions were meant to pave the way for the regime to re­tain its grip on power be­yond the elec­tion.

Mr Ab­hisit said he was in­formed that a num­ber of com­mu­nity lead­ers had re­ceived in­struc­tions via the pop­u­lar chat­ting app Line to mo­bilise lo­cal peo­ple to an­swer the ques­tions at their lo­cal Dam­rongtham com­plaint cen­tres.

The Demo­crat leader said the prime min­is­ter should fo­cus on gaug­ing pub­lic opin­ion on more bread-and-but­ter mat­ters, such as fall­ing crop prices, and dis­cuss mea­sures to re­solve such press­ing con­cerns.

He did not think the six ques­tions would yield any sig­nif­i­cant ben­e­fit and sug­gested the govern­ment could put state re­sources to bet­ter use by tack­ling prob­lems closer to peo­ple’s daily lives.

Mr Ab­hisit said the NCPO should avoid reignit­ing con­flict and con­fronta­tion with politi­cians and that it was not fair to cast all politi­cians in a neg­a­tive light.

The an­swers to the six ques­tions are be­ing col­lected na­tion­wide over the next three weeks.

Chatchai Prom­lert, per­ma­nent sec­re­tary of the In­te­rior Min­istry, in­sisted no one had been or­dered to an­swer them, and that the low turnout on the first day was nor­mal.

The pub­lic have been in­vited to vol­un­teer their an­swers but no one is forc­ing them to visit the cen­tres and fill in the forms, Mr Chatchai said.

He said the In­te­rior Min­istry will gather the an­swers and for­ward them to the govern­ment.

If was not clear when or in­deed whether the an­swers will be re­vealed to the pub­lic.

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