Longtime supporters of the Prayut Chan-ocha government are rethinking their support of the government after the latest mismanagement of the Covid-19 pandemic.
With case numbers soaring and the economy suffering, conservative elites, which form the traditional base of support for the current government, have questioned whether the current administration have the leadership necessary to lead the country out of the current crisis.
“I think the final straw for me was the revelation from the private hospitals that the government regulations had been stopping them from getting their own vaccines,” said the heir to a shopping mall fortune that asked to not be named.
“My family has good relations with the prime minister and his team but I no longer think that they have the expertise and good judgement that will help the country,” he said.
According to the source, many of his family-friends have considered taking short trips abroad to vaccinate because of the government’s abysmal handling of the vaccination program.
“We have always supported the institution and we love the traditions of our country,” said Seksith Pimmonat, the owner of a group of convenience stores and tool shops in Prachuap Khiri Khan.
“But how can this government protect the institution when it can’t even protect its own people? It’s association with the institution is actually dragging down the entire system because they are so transparently corrupt and inept.”
According to Seksith, many of his stores are doing very well because people have been hoarding supplies as the third wave of the pandemic gets under way.
“I do not want to make sales like this, I want the country to be healthy. Right now it is sick.”
Analysts say that the symbiotic relationship between traditional, conservative elites and the government only goes so far and that the bond would break if the government proves incapable of running the country on a day-to-day basis.
“I think the government’s base of support is starting to suffer in a way that they haven’t before,” said Thai political analyst Arun Saronchai.
“After a year of the pandemic, the economy has reached a breaking point. If this ‘third wave’ cannot be controlled quickly, I think a lot of the business leaders in the country see the writing on the wall and they are starting to pressure the government in a way that they haven’t been before.”
The clearest example of Arun’s reasoning could be seen with the recent open letter penned by Minor Group Chairman Bill Heinecke to the government. Heinecke has been an ardent supporter of the government and publicly defended the coup in 2014 after Prayut took over.
Recently though, Heinecke has lobbied the government to introduce better policies to help his ailing hospitality business.
“To have someone like Bill Heinecke, a coup-apologist, call out the government publicly shows that the situation is really bad,” said Arun.
Business leaders not involved in the hospitality industry have also begun to break with the government and have shown signs of displeasure that had not been there previously.
“We went out on the streets in 2014 to bring in this government because we believed that the Shinawatras were corrupt and evil,” said the owner of a international school in Thailand.
“But this government are just as corrupt and are making even worst decisions. We do not have good leaders in this country,” the source said.