King's good health tops hopes
People also want Yingluck, Abhisit to work for reconciliation: Survey
First and foremost among Thais' wishes for the new year is that His Majesty the King is healthy and strong.
They also hope that politicians will stop their fighting and wish to see Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra assume a good leadership role, a public opinion survey by Suan Dusit Poll has found.
The survey of Thais' expectations for 2013 was conducted on 1,558 people from December 25-31.
It found that the primary wish of most citizens (51.9 per cent) is for the King's good health so that he can remain their beloved guiding light.
This was followed by the wish for Thais to unite lovingly (26.2 per cent) and for Thailand's fertility and Thais' well-being and prosperity (21.9 per cent), according to the results released yesterday.
They also expect politicians to stop fighting (60.1 per cent), stop corruption and work for the country's and public's sake instead (25.5 per cent) and create a good image of Thai politics in order to restore people's confidence (14.3 per cent).
As to Yingluck, respondents want her to be a good leader using her full capacity to work hard for the sake of the majority (49.2 per cent), lead the country to better development, well-being and prosperity (28.4 per cent), and create reconciliation and make Thai politics clean and transparent (22.3 per cent).
They also want Opposition Leader Abhisit Vejjajiva to cooperate with the government in developing the country and solving problems (42.2 per cent), check that the government's work is just and fair (41.3 per cent) and be a major player in creating political reconciliation (16.4 per cent).
The prime minister, who at 10.15am signed a New Year wish for Their Majesties the King and Queen and the Royal Family at the Grand Palace, had earlier given a New Year speech on Radio Thailand.
Thanking the people for their support for the government's problem-solving efforts last year and all parties for fully performing their duties, Yingluck vowed that the government would lay the foundations for the country's future with "sustainability, opportunity and equity".
Urging Thais to observe what the King said in his speech on December 5, the PM said this year should be one of positive thinking and greater understanding, while Thais should also overcome conflicts and express political views "constructively, democratically and with love and good intention to one another".
Meanwhile, people across the Kingdom celebrated the first day of 2013 with merit-making.
In Bangkok, some 25,000 people worshipped nine important Buddha images, which the Fine Arts Department had put on display at the Puttisawan Hall of the National Museum for public viewing from 9am to 4pm each day until January 31.
Museum visitor Amnuay Sakuljongchaisiri, 65, and his nephew Teerakan Japun said they had prayed for the family's good health and prosperity, as well as for the King's good health and Thailand's peace. They said they were then going to sign a New Year wish for His Majesty at Siriraj Hospital.
In Buri Ram, 1,000 white-clad people joined a 2-kilometre march to Khao Panom Rung to worship Siva and other gods, offer morning alms to 99 monks and receive the year's first morning light as an auspicious omen.
In Phuket's Muang district, deputy provincial governors led hundreds of people to offer alms to 145 monks, while Songkhla's Simila Cape also saw hundreds offering alms to 70 monks for a good beginning to 2013.
Meanwhile, Yala's Muang district saw 800 people, including security officials, offer alms to 80 monks to pray for a better life and peace in the restive deep South.