Prayut wants to bring Thailand’s politics chaos to an end. But will he succeed?
Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha used propaganda to maintain social stability since he came to power in 2014. Launched a series of campaigns, the general manipulated the Thai citizens with shrewd political propaganda strategies.
Prayut’s government has never stopped the propaganda in patriotism and unity
The junta launched the “Bring happiness back to Thailand” campaign several days after it came to power. Prayut wrote a theme song for the Television programme National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), stirring the citizens’ patriotic sentiments by honouring the dead during the Thai-Burmese war.
In April this year, Thailand’s Defence Ministry released another propaganda song “Unity”. In the song, it was written, “The ten-year dispute has torn Thailand apart. Thais should love each other and learn from the history. We ought to be united because we are family”. The Defense Ministry also introduced a mascot named ‘Miss Pinky Promise’ to promote reconciliation in November. Major-General Kongcheep Tantrawanich, a spokesperson for the government’s reconciliation building committee, said this will remind Thailand of the truth.
The political instability in Thailand
Prayut needs stability desperately especially after the death of King Bhumibol’s in 2016. Thailand is a constitutional monarchy. This means the military is obligated to defend monarchy even at the expense of the country. Most of the coups launched during King Bhumibol’s reign were to protect the king, and these coups were endorsed by him.
In 2006, Thailand’s military leaders staged a coup and ousted then Prime Minister Thaksin. Thaksin was an extremely popular political leader, especially among the rural poor. Thaksin won landslide elections in both 2001 and 2005. During that time, he was the only Thai prime minister to have completed a full four-year term after an election.
However, Thaksin had never been popular among Thailand’s elites and middle-class people. Thaksin’s rural people-oriented policies threatened political stability, and the monarchy.
Thaksin was found guilty of corruption in 2008. He did not attend the hearing and has been in exile ever since. Today, he remains influential in Thailand politics. The red-shirts, who are mostly poorer farmers continues to support him loyally. These group of Thais showed their support to Thaksin by installing Thaksin’s allies in power.
There are three major political forces in Thailand – the red-shirts, the yellow-shirts, and the king and his military. The red-shirts are firm supporters for Thaksin and his allies. The yellow-shirts are made up of the elites and middle-class people. They question the need for a democratic election.
Prayut is paving his road for the election
In May 2014, Yingluck stepped down as Prime Minister. Prayut staged a coup immediately and took control of the country. The then Thai King endorsed Prayut as Prime Minister for the interim government three months after the coup.
Prayut is trying to weaken Thaksin’s influence and win support of the red-shirts. He announced construction plans of infrastructure railways and highways. These projects will help develop tourism in the remote areas.
Prayut had initially promised the election would be held in 2015 when he took office. But he has postponed the election once and again. On 10 October 2018, he announced the election would be in November 2017. It remains to be seen if Prayut will successfully end the turmoil in Thailand.