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BURNING ISSUE

Neutrality critical for NCPO to achieve goal of defusing conflicts

BEING POLITICALLY neutral is crucial if the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO)'s goal is to successfully curb political strife, bridge national division and dissolve political colours confronting the country for over a decade.

NCPO chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha had justified his "power seizure", by saying he wanted to pull the country out of the political deadlock that has hit hard the economy and may plunge the country into civil strife and a bloodbath.

Although pro-democracy groups brand the means used by the NCPO to take state control as undemocratic and unjustifiable, others have given the junta the benefit of the doubt and hope it will achieve the goals it has spelled out after seizing power.

But if the NCPO chooses to take sides - with action against one political camp and overlooking the rival camp for the same or similar offences allegedly committed by both of them - the NCPO's attempts to dissolve political colours will never be achieved. In fact, it may risk deepening the political conflict deep rooted in inequality and injustice that is believed to have widened the gap between the haves and have-nots and resulted in national division.

Social and economic disparities that have accumulated for decades became more evident under the Thaksin rule that critics branded as "Thaksinocracy", a ruling system accused of being rife with nepotism, cronyism, policy corruption, conflict of interest, double standards and tax evasion.

Thaksin's political opponents, led by the Democrats, whom critics call the elite, have also been accused by the Thaksin camp of assuming privileges, judicial connections and social status to their advantage and against their political rivals.

The power struggle between these two rival groups is cited by observers as the true cause of the problems we all have witnessed.

To some people, what took us to this point may be debatable, even though others would rather believe in the theories of disparities than the power struggle. All said and done, one cannot deny the bitterness of sheer hatred between both political camps and their followers. The political division has led to a number of husbands and wives splitting, parents cutting ties with their children, friends becoming enemies.

Prayuth will have to tread carefully in how he treats the rival camps because just one misstep will show him in a biased light.

The direction in which he is propelling the country must not be seen as responding to any one side, otherwise the rival camp can justify its move to stage protests.

If he succeeds in making both camps believe he is non-partisan, his promise to "fix" the country through reform and writing new rules will be smooth and his plan to move the country forward will not be an uphill task.

Moral support is pouring in for Prayuth to accomplish the mission he said he aims to achieve. Many hope that his rhetoric - that he is here to fix the country and not to fight anybody - is not flowery language to help his rise to power or mere lip-service.


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