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BURNING ISSUE

Junta must leave more room for criticism

TWO MONTHS after the military's power seizure, the honeymoon period for the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) seems to be losing its sweetness gradually.

The reconciliation and happiness for Thais promoted by the junta is clearly facing undercurrents of discontent.

The movements of the red shirts, opponents of the NCPO, have increased in terms of duration and location. There are more activities being organised, and in wider areas.

Leaflets are being distributed, the walls of deserted buildings are displaying graffiti and there have even been flash mobs, who gather and disperse very quickly, in symbolic messages of resistance.

The curious latest case is the accusation by a red shirt, Kritsuda Khunasen, that NCPO officers tortured her when she was summoned for "adjustment of attitude".

She had earlier taken part in a press conference with soldiers, where it was stated that she was treated well during her period in detention. However, she later went abroad and sought asylum, saying her human rights were violated. Foreign media actively reported her case and human-rights agencies paid much attention to it.

The NCPO denied her accusation. But, of course, some people believe her.

Furthermore, politicians and those who in the past never showed any opposition to the NCPO have come out and criticised the junta.

The Democrats have from time to time criticised its stance of seemingly keeping politicians away in every way.

Former senators from the Group of 40, who are well known as arch-rivals of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, as well as many non-governmental organisations and the media have also criticised the NCPO despite their initial welcoming stance.

There are some reasons behind those actions. Some groups might have had the aim of taking part in governance and enjoying some power. But there are also some sincere people.

The power holders must look at these people with understanding. They must not be seen and treated collectively as the same. The NCPO cannot listen to only the praises in opinion polls, when some were not done professionally and academically and do not reflect the truth.

The NCPO must realise that the conflicts have not evaporated from the country, and Thais do not suddenly love one another more. The conflicts and disagreements were just suppressed because of the fear of the rulers' absolute power. These conflicts are waiting to explode unless the problems are not tackled at the very root.

The NCPO must be softer towards the people who disagree with it. They do not deserve such words as "the people who do not love the country". They certainly do not deserve to be called "the unwanted", and outcasts of the Thai state. Treating people in that manner has resulted in the problems we are facing nowadays.

The NCPO must admit that the conflicts exist, and look into the core of the problems. Hoping that all people will agree or think the same is impossible in human society. The point is people with different opinions must be accepted and treated with respect.

Everybody knows that the NCPO's work at this time is not easy. But when it chooses to take power, it has to move on, and make it right. Otherwise, the military coup will end up with the same result as the one in 2006 - back to the vicious cycle, which might just aggravate the conflicts.




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