The much-awaited entry of 2014 coup leader and current Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha as a politician under the Ruam Thai Saang Chart banner (United Thai Nation Party aka UTN) turned out to be a flop as the 30 minutes ‘policy statement’ that was delivered was nothing more than boring propaganda that was filled with lies.
Prayut yesterday officially wore the UTN’s jacket, the 1st time that he has joined a political party in his life.
The usual blunt-speaking coup leader tried his best to act like a politician when he talked to nearly 5,000 people gathered at the Queen Sirikit Convention Centre but as he droned on about his ‘good’ work, the would-be policy statement for the upcoming elections was all but missed out.
Prayut kept on stressing the importance of “Nation, Religion and King” with the national flag in his background while repeatedly yelling “the country must move on”.
During his speech, the coup leader said ‘he loved all Thais’, but many pro-democracy protesters will think otherwise.
Prayut claimed UTN was ‘a neutral party’. But, the party is full of former leaders of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee or the ‘Bangkok Shutdown’ gang that led the street protests which eventually paved the way for Prayut to seize control from a democratically elected government.
Prayut said he wants to stay on in power because he “respects the country’s democratic process” even though he came into power via a coup. Not to mention his hand-picked 250 senators with the power to select a Prime Minister.
Prayut kept calling himself ‘Prime Minister’ on stage many times but then corrected himself because by law, he cannot call himself a Prime Minister while seeking voters’ support.
Policy Statement Contradict Facts on the Ground
Prayut said during his speech that all Thais need to have opportunities, no matter if they are rich or poor.
He stressed that Thailand needs to have more ‘equality’ and that the weaker and the vulnerable need to be taken care of.
But despite the flowery speech, the reality in Thailand is very different because over the past 8 years of Prayut’s rule, the Gini Coefficient Index has actually dipped from 37 in 2014 to 35 in 2020, the latest year which the World Bank has provided the data for.
The Gini Coefficient Index measures inequality or equality with Zero (0) being the most unequal society and 100 being a perfectly equal society.
As for caring for those in need, his government has been dragging its feet on raising the minimum wage which currently stands at 372 Baht from 300 Baht despite inflation rising by 6.08% in 2022 alone.
He said the UTN will work on ways to distribute more power to the people no details were given.
He also said the party plans to revamp many of the laws that are outdated, adding that other issues such as lowing the cost of living and household debts were among the policies that the UTN wants to undertake but he did not say how.
Trumpeting 8 years of Work
During the speech, the 2014 coup leader sang his own praises by saying that over the years he has managed to bring Thailand into the international arena by hosting successful meetings of Asean and Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).
He pointed out that the relations with Saudi Arabia, which had soured 34 years ago after some Thai workers stole rare jewels from a Saudi palace, have now become better than it was.
Prayut said that the fiascos of the Covid-19 pandemic were something that helped his government to prepare for better handling of such issues in the future.
But, last weekend changes to entry rules were mired with confusion as none of the agencies knew what they were doing, again.
Prayut said he will get rid of corruption but as we all know, nothing has changed since he took over power in this aspect and it seems to get worse in many areas, especially the military and the police.
This statement came even after the latest revelations by former massage tycoon turned businessman Chuvit Kamolvisit that Prayut’s nephew has allegedly been involved with the alleged Chinese mafia boss who owns a gambling den in Yannawa, Chaiyanat “Tuhao” Kornchayanat.
Many of the MPs that supported Prayut and some of his cabinet members have been accused of corruption but none of the rules that apply to Thai citizens apply to those supporting Prayut & Co.
But again, it was as expected that nothing much came out of the much-awaited policy statement.
People will have to wait and see what the UTN or Gen. Prayut will come out with later in terms of economic policies as we all know what their social and political policies are.
This party supports a former coup leader who wants to prolong his regime for as long as possible so there will be no change to the junta-drafted charter that will make it more democratic, if any change then it would probably gear more towards an authoritarian system.
Despite the promise to clear the country of corruption and drug problems, these problems have actually been exacerbated. After 8 years, Prime Minister Gen. Prayut has not been able to solve any of the problems he set out to solve on day 1 of the coup in 2014.
Therefore, giving 2 more years of Gen. Prayut’s leadership will be nothing but economic suicide, especially as the world is heading toward a recession.
The country’s democratic progress will continue to take more steps backward and the education level will continue to be controlled by a military mindset.
Social conflict will continue as the divisive leader will continue to put people in jail because they think differently than him and his supporters.
Prayut also rambled on about how he thought for months about whether he should go home and sleep rather than step into the political minefield.
Well, he should have taken the option of being at home and sleeping because the way the country has been running for the past 8 years has been like Prayut has been sleeping on the job anyway.
Thailand, therefore, cannot afford to have a Prime Minister who is sleeping on the job for a single more day, forget about until April 2025 (when Prayut’s Prime Minister term is supposed to reach its limit).
The 8 years of Prayut’s rule has been unimpressive and his moment to shine during yesterday’s debut at the UTN party was as pathetic as his 8 years of governance has been.