FROM MONDAY on, people of Bangkok will be able to answer PM General Prayut Chan-o-cha’s six questions at Damrongdhamma centre at the Interior Ministry and 50 district offices across the province.
The structure of the questionnaire requires that respondents physically show up at the centres, verifying themselves with national identification cards, and then write down their answers on forms, said Interior Minister General Anupong Paochinda yesterday.
The pattern would follow much of the earlier “four questions” also previously launched by Prayut in which he claimed he was seeking the public’s thoughts about politicians and elections in light of next year’s general election.
The questions, however, have been slammed for being inaccurate in reflecting public opinion due to their unscientific methodology, and for having an underlying agenda of self-justification for the junta.
Former deputy PM Chaturon Chaisang said that the questions could be interpreted as hinting that the ruling junta wants to stay in power past the next election, through giving their support to a political party that would form a junta-backed government.
“From charter drafting, [to] holding a referendum to curbing political powers, Prayut’s bloc has done them all to achieve their goal,” Chaturon said in his Facebook status on Thursday.
“The only reason why he would have to launch such questions would probably be to ensure that they will gain public supports to carry on their plan, given that their administration performance isn’t satisfactory and their popularity declines,” the Pheu Thai Party’s key figure wrote.
One of the six questions asks if it the junta or the PM himself could support any party given that Prayut won’t compete in the election. Chaturon responded that this would be an abuse of power as state officers must remain politically neutral and not use their authority for their political benefit.
While the questions ask whether the election of “old-faced politicians” would be good for the country, the NCPO still maintains its political ban of five or more people, thus creating a barrier to new political faces emerging, he went on.
The questions also tend to justify the junta’s performance on combating corruption as well as following its draft national reform and strategy scheme.
“Any government will have to carry on [the reforms and strategies] by constitutional and legal mechanisms,” Chaturon said. “These functions should not be up to any specific group, without a check-and-balance system, like what the NCPO is now doing.”
Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam said yesterday that he would next week discuss holding local elections with the Interior Ministry and the Constitution Drafting Commission next week.
However, as the NCPO order still hinders political activities, Wissanu said that the discussion would focus on amending related laws to support those elections.
“Voting in some local areas might need to be done after the general election,” the deputy said. “And to prevent conflicts, political bans may not be ‘unlocked’ in all areas simultaneously. We will have to see after the laws are amended.”