June 19, 2014 00:00 By Attayuth Bootsripoom
After the seizure of power by the military junta many feel that Thailand's prospects have brightened. And the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) certainly seems earnest in its strategies to solve the country's problems.
Tough tasks like national reconciliation and political reform have become NCPO’s main priorities. But the junta is also keen to push for reform in other areas such as energy, the structure of state enterprises, cracking down on gambling, motorcycle taxi and minivan mafias, drug dealers, illegal migrant workers, illegal loggers, crime syndicates, addressing the high price of the state-run lottery and other tasks.
What’s important is that NCPO chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha is overseeing all these issues by himself and is explaining the progress to the public every Friday.
This move has enhanced his image as “a white knight” in the eyes of Thais because he appears both able and well-intentioned. What’s more, he’s the most powerful person in the leadership at this point in time.
Therefore, it is no surprise that many are turning to Prayuth in the hope that he will help solve various problems. For example, merchants at Chatuchak weekend market have asked him to solve the problem of extortion and suggested that the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) administer the market instead of the State Railway of Thailand.
Village headmen and kamnans from Ayutthaya province’s Uthai district also petitioned Prayuth to ask him to look into the district chief’s plan to relocate the district office to a new but smaller and less accessible location.
Blind people are also seeking help from the junta leader to allocate a bigger portion of state-run lottery tickets for them so they can sell and make more profit. Many other professional groups are also seeking help from Prayuth and more are expected.
The question is how will Prayuth handle all these requests? Under its centralised form of administration, the NCPO is at the heart of everything. The chief merit of such a system is that everything can be executed at the will of Prayuth. But if the number of issues mount, can he truly handle them all?
Though we understand that the situation is special and requires such governance, there are also fears that the expectations of the public may grow too high.
Some issues brought to the attention of the NCPO are complex by nature and there are also many vested interests involved. By enabling some parties to benefit, others may lose out. Therefore, there’s a need to strike a balance.
What’s more, it is inevitable that this honeymoon period will wear off the longer the NCPO stays in power. If it fails to address all the issues being presented to it satisfactorily there may be a backlash against it.
There are a lot of expectations being placed on Prayuth’s shoulders. And if those expectations are not met then people will become disillusioned.
It was Prayuth who volunteered to run the country so he is now responsible for the direction he takes. He has the option to decide whether to handle everything by himself or to delegate so that he can focus on truly major responsibilities. At present no one can say how General Prayuth should proceed but Prayuth himself.