In light of Obama’s visit to Thailand, there were a few polls that asked Thais for their views on Obama and Thai-US relations.
Q1. What do you think about the first official visit to Thailand of US President Barack Obama?
A. Feel honored, excited, and proud about the first official visit of US President, 45.20%
B. The visit is encouraging and reaffirms diplomatic relations between Thailand and the US, 26.55%
C. Shows that Thailand is safe and this visit will stimulate the economy, 14.69%
D. It is a good opportunity for the US President and the Thai Government to talk and share ideas, 8.47%
E. The world and Asia are interested in Thailand from this visit, 5.09%
BP: Very positive as expected.
Q2. What benefits do you think that Thailand gains from this visit?
A. Foreigners have more confidence to invest in Thailand, encourage trade, the economy and tourism, 48.11%
B. The US and Thailand can improve diplomatic relations, 23.78%
C. Foreigners will know Thailand more and promotes the uniqueness of Thailand to the world, 16.76%
D. It makes the political situation in Thailand better than before; causes better unity with various organizations, 7.03%
E. Get new beneficial ideas and new perspectives in developing the country, 4.32%
BP: Again, very positive.
Q3. What what would you like to tell Barack Obama?
A. Be a good leader and give importance to all countries especially developing countries, 33.07%
B. Support and pay attention to all countries in ASEAN to have a bigger role on the world stage, 25.20%
C. To retain good relations with Thailand and come back to Thailand again, 22.04%
D. Do not interfere in politics and security in others countries and think about the human rights as the key issue, 13.39%
E. Be an economic leader and develop the world economy to make it more stable, 6.30%
BP: This is what people want although you don’t always get what you want…
Second, a NIDA Poll surveyed 1,247 people between November 8-9. This poll is different as it brings in the China element.
Q1: Do you think that Obama in his 2nd term will increase the role of the American military in Thailand in order to obstruct the influence of China?
- No, because Obama’s personality is to compromise instead of using force and to create peace including creating domestic security and safety as the priority, 30.31%
- Yes, because both countries are superpowers who have great influence and the US doesn’t want China to be superior, 26.54%
- Don’t know/unsure, 43.14%
BP: Interesting more on how people view Obama…
Q2: If the role is increased, do you think it will be good or bad for Thailand and why?
- Bad, because as may affect national security and Sino-Thai relations and be viewed negatively, 36.09%
- Good, because Thailand can exchange/study more modern military technology, 27.35%
- Don’t know/unsure, 36.57%
BP: Then read in conjunction with Q3
Q3: What should the role of Thailand in the Thai-Sino-American relationship be?
- Neutral in all circumstances, 60.95%
- Depends on the situation on what will benefit Thailand more, 22.69%
- Favour China, 7.14%
- Favour the US, 3.53%
- Don’t know/unsure 5.29%
BP: The neutral answer is fairly high. For a number of years now, Thai foreign policy has been not to choose sides between China and the US and well this poll supports this policy.
Third, an ABAC Poll that surveyed 2,189 people between October 30-November 3. Below are some relevant questions:
Q1: What benefits do you think that Thailand will receive from the Thai-US relationship (can answer more than once)?
A. Supporting/encouraging democracy, 90.1
B. Developing the country and the quality of life of the people, 82.3%
C. Human rights, 78.9%
D. On drugs and crime, 64.8%
E. Exports and business, 62.4%
F. On protection for natural disasters and rehabilitation from natural disasters, 57%
G. Modern technology, 55.2%
H. Education and training, 53.8%
I. Public Health, 27.2%
BP: The public health answer shows the problem, or perception of a problem, in any free trade agreement with the US whether bilateral or multilateral. Aside from that, there are favourable views of the benefits of the US-Thai relationship although this is as long as Thailand does not take sides (reading in conjunction with the NIDA poll above).
Q2. Do you have confidence in democracy after following news of the US election?
A. Yes, have confidence in democratic system with kind as Head of State (i.e constitutional monarchy), 88.5%
B. No, 11.5%
BP: Not quite sure the relevance of the US election. You could take it as a more general answer on support for democracy under a constitutional monarchy.
Fourth, an ABAC Poll that surveyed 2,115 people between November 12-16.
When people were asked who they support as the best leader of a country, they answered Obama 42.9%; Yingluck 33.3%; and Abhisit 23.8%.
BP: This shows the relative weakness of both Yingluck and Abhisit compared with Obama although Yingluck is still 10 points ahead of Abhisit…
Overall, Obama is popular and people view his trip to Thailand favourably, but want Thailand to remain neutral and not take sides between the US and China.