Opinion – Prayut starts to lose staunch supporters as economy continues to remain in the dumps

“When is Prayut going to go, APEC is already done and over with,” was the question raised yesterday by someone during a social interaction.

“But is it not your family that helped bring him in power 8-years ago and continued to support him and his government,” was my response to the question. “What has changed that has made you change your mind?”

To make matters worse, the person I was talking to ‘was’ a diehard supporter of 2014 coup leader Prayut Chan-o-cha, and member of his family were among the key supporters of the People’s Democratic Reform Council (PDRC) and then the reincarnation under the political party – Palang Pracharart party (PPRP).

Today, 8-years later and the economy crumbling, this diehard supporter whose family members were on the stages of ‘Bangkok Shutdown’ has had a change in heart and mind.

This businessman whose family is well known among the elites of Bangkok, is not alone in his call for an end of the never-ending rule of General Prayut and his cronies, most of the country is starting to get tired and anti-incumbency is kicking in, and if Gen. Prayut does not realize what he is facing then he has the wrong advisers.

8-Years of Mismanagement

 Over the past 8-years the businesspeople have started to realize that despite the chaos of a democratic government in power, because democratic governments tend to prioritize economic activities.

The economic failure of Prayut administration has been visible since the start of the coup lead government way back in 2014/2015.

The incumbent Finance Minister – Arkhom Termpittayapaisith, is the 5th Minister of Finance since the coup of 2014. The revolving door of ministers has left a big gap in ways to manage the economy especially during this crucial time when good policies are needed to revive the economy after the Covid-19 pandemic fears has receded.

The global volatility from rising interest rates and runaway inflation coupled with a possible recession that could be one of the worst in decades, is likely to test the nerves of the Prayut government if it continues to remain in power into 2023.

The mismanagement of the Prayut government in handling the economy, be it the policies, the 1.5 trillion Baht that was borrowed but did not fully make it into the system to revive the economy or even being able to attract enough foreign investors to make the country attractive while the like of Vietnam is raking in all the foreign direct investment that is flowing into the Asean region.

The fear of Thailand becoming the ‘sick man of Asia’ is starting to become more of a reality and businessmen are starting to fear that if this government is allowed to continue, things will only deteriorate if Gen. Prayut is able to come back for another 2-years.

The decision by the Constitutional court on September 30th, 2022, that allowed Prayut to remain in office after questions were raised about his 8-year term was raised, allows Prayut to continue to remain a Prime Minister until 2025.

“8-years is a long time, I don’t know how long this guy is going to remain, but it is high time that someone new is put in place,” said this staunch ex-supporter of Prayut.

This is a statement that is echoed by most other businessmen across the country.

The Prayut administration has lost its legitimacy to remain in power, but it still wants to continue because there is a feeling that the economy is recovering and that could help him return to power when the next general elections are held.

The term of this government ends on March 23, 2023, but it is likely that a general election would be called a little earlier than that, well that’s what the norm has been. But in the worst-case elections have to be held before May 23, 2023 (60-days after the end of the term of the government).

But with the PPRP government losing the confidence of the business sector, there is every likelihood that a general election could be called earlier than expected but then again it depends on the coup leader Prayut whether he feels confident to be able to call for an election or not.

Earlier talks were that after the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting was done and over with, Gen. Prayut will likely dissolve the parliament as it has put Prayut on the world stage and the public relation that could possibly help him, and his party get some positive momentum in the next general elections.

Having lost the support base of the people and now the business sector, a house dissolution is something that Gen Prayut needs to ponder upon because the longer he waits the more staunch supporters he is likely to lose.


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