Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha softened his speech as soon as he became chief of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), observers say, suggesting that he should ease his authoritative tone even further as prime minister.
Wilasinee Phiphitkul, an academic in public communication, said that in his speeches, Prayuth sounded like a father telling his children what they should or should not do.
“I’m not sure if he will continue speaking in this manner when he becomes involved in the government and national politics. He may need to sound less commanding so common people can listen to a leader explaining the overall direction of the country,” she said.
Since the May 22 coup, Prayuth has been addressing the nation every Friday in his televised “Returning Happiness to the People” show. However, he has not once given a formal media interview since becoming NCPO chief.
Wilasinee, former deputy dean of Chulalongkorn University’s faculty of communication arts, pointed out that the junta chief had addressed ethical issues and touched on every detail of social woes including the problem of motorcycle racers.
She also said that since Prayuth had not been elected, he did not have to worry about his constituency base or to please voters.
Sukhum Nuansakul, a political analyst and former rector of Ramkhamhaeng University, also noted that the junta chief had started speaking more softly since the coup.
“Previously, General Prayuth spoke sternly, in a typically military style. He sounded intimidating and merciless when giving orders,” he said.
“However, after the coup, he has toned his voice down. Now he speaks more gently, does not cut people short and listens with respect.”
Rungrat Chaisamrej, dean of the School of Communication Arts at the University of Thai Chamber of Commerce, said she was impressed with Prayuth’s sincerity, pointing out that he was direct and did not need to copy a politician’s style. This, she said, provided an impression of a trustworthy leader.
“Not all prime ministers are the same. A soldier does not have to be like a politician. Prayuth is simple with his approach – direct, decisive and sincere. He should not lose his ‘unique’ identity, and he may have to give more explanations as a prime minister,” Rungrat said.