Thai govt a failure: Analysts

Analysts yesterday slammed the post-coup junta-backed government over its two-year performance report card, giving it a "fail" grade as it did not address some key issues and lacked concrete achievements and vision.

The analysts were critical of the content and presentation of yesterday's report by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and six deputy premiers, that lasted about five hours at Government House.

Sirote Klampaiboon, an independent political science scholar, said the government had exploited the press conference to make political points by blaming previous civilian governments for "causing damage to the country" and projecting itself as being heroic for staging a coup to end the country's political turmoil.

"They sounded like politicians trying to gain support from the people rather than leaders who had some achievements to show or a vision to share," the scholar said.

Sirote said Prayut had made great efforts to point out that it had become necessary for the junta to take control of the country because previous governments had caused many problems such as economic disparity and poverty, the law and order situation and corruption.

The scholar argued that the pre-coup situation had not been that bad, as there had been signs of improvement in terms of the economy, the quality of life of the people, and public administration.

Photo: The Nation/ Asia News Network

"The previous governments did not only cause damage to the country. They also contributed to the country to some extent. Over the last 10 years, wages and the unemployment rate have improved. However, in recent years, the country's unemployment situation has worsened," he said.

Sirote said the junta should have focused on concrete achievements such as the unemployment figure and wages as measures of its success, as those would have been better indicators of how it had improved the country.

He also criticised Prayut's body language during the presentation, saying the PM rarely made eye contact with the audience. "It seemed as if he was not confident and did not understand what he was saying. He always looked at his script."

Attasit Pankaew, a political scientist at Thammasat University, said the junta mostly presented a "macro" picture with figures and indices from international organisations, which are difficult to understand for the common man. He said the junta should have focused more on data about wages, agricultural products, and import-export figures.

However, Attasit gave the thumbs up to the quality of the presentation materials. He said infographics and trendy icons were used and they were more up to date than the material used when they made public their first performance report last year.

Sunai Phasuk, a researcher at Human Rights Watch in Thailand, said he was disappointed with yesterday's session. He said the junta had failed in all areas.

In terms of content, he said, the government had failed to address how it has and would restore democratic rule and respect and the people's political rights, which have deteriorated since the coup.

He also suggested that the government issue a written report to show how it would restore democracy to meet international standards.

Sunai said the session was poorly managed, lasting some five hours, three hours longer than originally scheduled. As a result, the question-and-answer session had to be dropped, he added.

"The Q&A session is an opportunity for Thai and foreign media to raise the concerns of the public," he said.

Meanwhile, Thanavath Phonvichai, director of the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce's (UTCC) Economic and Business Forecasting Centre, gave the government's economic team 8 out of 10 for its attempts to stimulate economic growth amidst the sluggish global situation.

Pheu Thai Party politician Nattawut Saikua said yesterday that the immediate task for the government was to tackle the economic problems, which he said were still serious.

He added that the government had no concrete accomplishments in that area.

He also disputed the government's claim of restoring peace in the country. Nattawut, a leader of the red shirts' United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, said the government was simply suppressing dissidence.