Thai public embraces junta

Thai public embraces junta

A month after the May 22 coup, the ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has managed to win widespread public approval as its short-term measures and policies have borne fruit and are evidence of tangible results for many people.

The junta appears to have won the hearts and minds of different groups with essentially populist policies that aim to "return happiness to the people", although NCPO chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha has said he opposes "making people choke with populist policies".

Some 800,000 rice farmers were quickly paid the Bt90 billion owed to them by the ousted government, while live broadcasts of all World Cup football matches on free-to-air TV have also proved a hit.

Many people are satisfied with the absence of street protests and political violence that continued for several months before the coup. Others are happy with the NCPO's crackdown on weapons.

The ruling NCPO is now turning its attention to tackling many problems left unsolved for a long time, such as mafia activities, illegal gambling and corruption. It will be tested by more difficult tasks, including bringing about reconciliation between rival political groups involved in deadly conflict over the past decade.

The first month in power is part of the "honeymoon period" usually enjoyed by every new administration. The junta has been able to make quick decisions due to an absence of opposition. Only time will tell whether its perceived successes today will lead to sustainable changes and improvements in the long run.

The latest public opinion polls have shown a high approval rating for the NCPO. A survey by Suan Dusit Poll gave it a score of 8.82 out of 10 on its one-month performance after seizing power.

A poll by the National Institute of Development Administration found that more than 41 per cent of respondents nationwide want the NCPO chief to become the next prime minister.

On the economic front, consumer and business confidence is up as is investment, amid signs of political stability. Tourism, however, has yet to recover. Despite the apparent optimism, academics say a lot more needs to be done to push for successful reforms.

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