Thai Army chief has expressed confidence that the government can handle any potential unrest including a forthcoming major rally scheduled for September 19th next. It comes as a poll on Sunday suggested that over 71% of the public view the current government as weak with over 77% lacking confidence in its ability to tackle the kingdom’s dire economic situation.
Thailand’s outgoing army leader, General Apirat Kongsompong, has been forced to come out and quash reports circulating online of a possible army coup d’état and promised that such an event was unlikely ever to occur again in Thailand. It comes as the country’s government finds itself battling the Covid 19 threat, a severe economic slump and rising political tensions. A reputable poll last Sunday showed that over 71% of the public view the current government as weak and unstable.
A leading academic has called on the Prime Minister, Prayut Chan ocha, to resign and pave the way for an external figure to be parachuted into the government top job in a move provided for by the current constitution.
Arthit Ourairat is a former speaker of the house and currently holds the post of Rector of Rangsit University.
Call for a two-year technocratic government
He has called for a two-year technocratic government to guide the kingdom through an extensive and open charter rewriting process, a period of economic recovery and active efforts at reconciliation.
He pointed out that the current 2017 Constitution provides for such an appointment under Section 272.
Never again will there be another coup in Thailand vowed outgoing army boss on Monday
This comes the day after the Army Chief, General Apirat Kongsompong, came out and stated that there will be no military coup. Indeed the army boss clarified that there will never again be such an event in the kingdom.
‘Don’t worry. it will never happen again,’ the army topman, who is due to retire shortly, said on Monday.
General Apirat was responding to swirling rumours online and on social media about such an event as the government, in the middle of both a pandemic and massive economic slump, appears rudderless and indecisive.
Last week saw the newly installed Minister of Finance resign after only 27 days in office
Last week, Thailand’s newly installed Minister of Finance, Predee Daochai, a former President of Kasikorn Bank, headhunted for the role, resigned his post officially after only 27 days in office citing ill-health grounds but political insiders suggested the real reason was a fractious dispute with the Deputy Finance Minister Santi Phromphat.
It also comes just a day after a Suan Dusit Rajabhat University opinion poll, conducted in the early days of September so far, suggested that over 71% of the public now view this, as yet, short-lived government formed in July last year after the March 2019 General Election, as weak.
Over 77% of the Thai public view the government’s economic performance as its weak point
The poll showed deep unease at the government’s economic track record with over 77% eyeing this as a critical weak point.
This was followed by public concerns over the often arbitrary and confusing nature of the government’s administration of the country, rising anti-government protests and the ballooning level of public debt even though this is still moderate by international standards and strongly supported by expert economists at this time.
The public also sees clear internal divisions within the ruling coalition particularly on key issues such as the chemical ban within farming and the reopening of the kingdom to foreign tourism.
On the plus side of the column, there is still some residual confidence in Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha who has his own support base.
The fact that the government has a working majority in the elected House of Representatives while being supported by the Senate, even though its existence is at the heart of the current street protests, is seen by others as a source of stability.
Prayut’s government has handled Covid 19 crisis well and has consistently won by-elections
It should also be noted that the governing ruling party, Palang Pracharat, has won numerous by-elections in various constituencies throughout Thailand in the last year.
It has also to be acknowledged that the government, led by Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha, has handled the Covid 19 crisis well although it appears to be uncertain of how and when it expects to fully revive the economy.
This is leading to heightened concern for the economy which is heavily dependent on Thailand’s cross border relationships with the rest of the world.
The government, since its inception, has presided over a continuous period of economic decline together with increased political tensions being pushed by those calling for a radical change in Thai politics which has exploded to life since a surprise rally on July 18th in Bangkok.
Move Forward Party warns that any likely coup will not succeed with the current public mood
In recent days, a spokesman for the Move Forward political party, a successor to the Future Forward Party which was dissolved by the Constitutional Court in later February, Nattacha Boonchaiinsawat, appeared to suggest that the swirling rumours of an impending coup were being generated by allies of the government or its supporters.
He described the threat of a coup as a sign of ‘desperation’ or ‘cowardice’ by those opposed to political change.
Mr Nattacha said that, with the current public mood, any action to impose military rule would certainly not succeed. He said that the public would not tolerate another army coup describing such an act as a ‘suicidal’ one for the military.
Mr Nattacha felt that anyone involved in such an undertaking would be left unable to extricate themselves.
Army chief has confidence in the government
On Monday, the Army Chief, General Apirat, when asked about the current political unrest and a forthcoming rally scheduled for September 19th by anti-government activists calling for radical political reform, said he had every confidence that the prime minister and the government can handle the situation.