There is no doubt that many people are glad that the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) took control of the country three weeks ago, bringing the political chaos to at least a temporary halt.
Perhaps, the state of affairs has even changed for the better since the coup. One of the most obvious aspects is the end of uncertainty on several fronts that prevailed for six months prior to the coup.
After May 22, many of these uncertainties and sense of uneasiness have evaporated and things are unravelling in a positive way.
Most recently, NCPO leader General Prayuth Chan-ocha explained several issues regarding the council’s work on television. In the address, he reiterated the timeframe in which the NCPO will be solving national problems. The so-called roadmap provided by the NCPO is divided into three stages: creating national reconciliation, reforming the Kingdom and holding general elections.
Though the timeframe for each stage is not fixed, Prayuth said that stage three could only be introduced after the previous two stages are successfully completed. He explained that the house needs to be put in order first and all sides need to reconcile before an election can take place, otherwise the country will enter the same cycle again.
However, anti-coup protests have been popping up in different places, with many people refusing to accept the power of the coup makers. Though these protests are not fully developed yet – due mostly to NCPO’s prevention measures by summoning lead actors and threatening them with legal prosecution if they refuse to comply – anti-coup sentiment still persists.
Protesters have been using social media to organise resistance at the weekends. However, the psychological battle via online media and the dissemination of false information has been confusing security officers. This is probably why Prayuth chose to refer to the protesters’ three-finger gesture in his address.
He said: “Let everyone reform the country anew – from one that was near systemic ruin. Cooperate with the NCPO. There cannot be any partisanship today. As for the flashing of three fingers, it is considered a foreign principle. I do not want conflicts. If you want to flash three fingers, do it at home, doing it outside is considered a violation of the NCPO order.”
The resistance is not worrying yet because many people still support the NCPO, however, it is necessary for the council to achieve its stated goals as soon as possible. The longer the council allows time to pass without results, the higher the risk of negative sentiment against them.
The NCPO leader must be aware of this because he declared that the council had not been created for personal benefit, and that its intervention was meant to solve problems, not create new ones.
The NCPO’s decision to cut down on the perks enjoyed by Thai Airways’ board members has helped reduce the burden on the national carrier and won praise from many supporters. We will have to see what comes next.
For now, everybody is watching closely to see what the NCPO and General Prayuth will do next. Perhaps the Chinese saying, that “distance judges the merit of a horse, while the passage of time judges the merit of a man” is apt for this situation.