THAILAND Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha presented four questions to the Thai people regarding democracy, and requested feedback on the answers in a bizarre statement on Friday.
According to Thai PBS, the General and junta leader addressed the people during his weekly nationwide broadcast, stating that the election, although an important and integral part of democracy, does not mean full-fledged democracy.
He went on to claim that he wanted Thailand to be democratic, but only if a government that practices good governance and is capable of leading the country towards stability and prosperity is in power.
Stating that he wanted to cultivate the good values of democracy in the mindset of the Thai people, he then presented four questions for which he would like feedback.
- Do you think, in the next election, we will get a government which has good governance?
- If not, what will you do?
- An election is an important integral part of democracy, but an election alone without regard for the future of the country and others is right or wrong?
- Do you think bad politicians should be given a chance of political comeback; and if there is conflict again, who will solve it and by what means?
This unusual statement comes days after Reuters reported that the military junta is more embedded in Thai society than under any previous military governments, with it leaving an imprint on nearly every institution and military personnel far more entrenched in senior positions.
In the past, Thailand’s military government has also acknowledged that it wants to weaken political parties and maintain permanent influence over future elected governments, partly through a new constitution approved by the country’s king last month.
Since seizing power in a May 2014 coup, the ruling military junta has come under increasing scrutiny for its lack of progress regarding the economy and its sustained attacks on democratic freedoms and human rights – particularly regarding crackdowns on activists and media.
Despite the government repeatedly expressing a commitment to find a “road map” for restoring democracy, the date of general elections has been pushed back every year since they came to power.
In January, the National Legislative Assembly announced the general election, planned for 2017, will be delayed until next year to allow more time to pass new voting laws as the country transitions from military to civilian rule.