Pandemic gives Prayut leverage to extend stay in power

04-Jul-2020 Intellasia | BangkokPost | 9:24 AM Print This Post

It is a year since prime minister Prayut Chan-o-cha returned to power as a civilian leader, but his government already has its sights set on staying in power beyond the remaining three years of its term.

The first 12 months have presented many challenges for the Prayut regime, including anti-government protests and the coronavirus pandemic, which has sent the Southeast Asian economy into a tailspin.

The government claims it has launched numerous projects and packages to help people over the past year, while mega infrastructure schemes such as a high-speed rail link between the country’s major airports are proceeding apace.

Some opinion polls show Thais are fairly satisfied with the performance of Gen Prayut, though they question the government’s track record on transparency as well as checks and balances within Parliament.

Yutthaporn Issarachai, a political science lecturer at Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University, says the government scores six out of 10 for its performance, citing a lack of progress in its promise to heal rifts in domestic politics.

Gen Prayut had made this pledge when the military, led by then army chief, staged a coup and seized power from a civilian government in 2014, after years of fractious political infighting.

In February, the Prayut government faced a near crisis after the Constitutional Court dissolved the country’s second-largest opposition party, Future Forward, and banned its 16 executives from participating in politics for 10 years.

Groups of students held rallies criticising Future Forward’s dissolution as politically motivated, accusing the government of engaging in a conspiracy to crush the burgeoning opposition party.



Category: Thailand

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