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Protest pressure builds for govt

Soldiers stand guard blocking potential anti-coup protesters at Democracy Monument in Bangkok on May 23, 2014, one day after the coup. (Photo by Patipat Janthong)

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The government is bracing for a tough road ahead as political tension builds post-Covid-19, according to academics. The prediction comes as Friday marks the 6th anniversary of the May 22, 2014 coup.

The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted activities including a political campaign challenging the Prayut Chan-o-Cha government. But the country is likely to see more political tension now that fears of the virus are subsiding.

Stithorn Thananithichote, director of the Research and Development Office at King Prajadhipok's Institute, predicted the Progressive Movement led by Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit will increase its pressure after the upcoming debate on the three executive decrees authorising a borrowing loan to help the economy following the Covid-19 lockdown.

The decrees are now seen as instrumental to the political stability of the government which came to power after the general election in March last year. However, to its critics, the current government is nothing but a new face on the old National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) which staged a coup on this day in 2014.

One of the decrees involves borrowing 1 trillion baht for financial aid, health-related plans and economic and social rehabilitation projects aimed at creating jobs, strengthening communities and building infrastructure.

The other decrees empower the Bank of Thailand to provide soft loans to help small- and medium-sized enterprises.

The opposition Pheu Thai and Kao Klai parties are getting ready for the three-day debate on May 27-29 to consider the loan decrees.

However, Mr Stithorn argues that even if the decrees are rejected by the House, the coalition government has other ways to channel funds to the economy.

He said the Progressive Movement, the reincarnation of the now-defunct Future Forward Party (FFP), positioned itself as an agent of political change and succeeded in bringing young voters on board. The campus rallies held before the virus broke out, called student flash mobs, may also grow in intensity as student critics were upset by the FFP's dissolution.

The movement has already made its first moves, beaming laser projections on city landmarks, "seeking the truth" ahead of the 10th anniversary of the political violence in 2010.

Democrat Party MP for Trang Sathit Wongnongtoey said the Covid-19 pandemic has spared the government political confrontations and possible unrest. Political tensions were increasing when the outbreak hit the country.

Meanwhile, Phumtham Wecha­yachai, adviser to the opposition leader, said Prayut has failed to deliver on promises made when he seized power. The general election did not bring about a functional, elected government.

"I think he has failed in all aspects," he said.

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Vocabulary:

campaign : a planned group of especially political, business or military activities which are intended to achieve a particular aim - การรณรงค์

channel (noun): a method for doing something - วิธีการ, ช่องทาง

confrontation : a situation in which people or groups are arguing angrily or are fighting - การเผชิญหน้า

coup : the seizure of power in a country by a group of people, usually members of the armed forces - รัฐประหาร

defunct : no longer existing, operating or being used - ถูกยุบ, หยุดทำงาน

disrupt : to interrupt something and prevent it from continuing by creating a problem - ได้รับการกระทบกระเทือน  ถูกทำให้หยุดชะงัก

dissolution : the process of officially ending the existence of a group of organisation - การยุบ (พรรค สภา)

executive decree : an official order made by a leader or a government - พระราชกำหนด

instrumental : involved in an important way in making something happen - เป็นเครื่องมือ, มีประโยชน์

intensity (noun): strength - ความเข้มข้น

loan : an amount of money that a person, business, or country borrows, especially from a bank - เงินกู้

pressure : to try to make someone do something by forcing, threatening, or persuading them in a determined way - กดดัน

rehabilitation : making a system, building, etc., suitable for use again, i.e., bringing it back to a good condition - การฟื้นฟูสภาพกิจการ

seize : to take control of a place or situation using military force - เข้ายึดพื้นที่

stability : a situation in which things happen as they should and there are no harmful changes; when something is not likely to move or change - ความมั่นคง, เสถียรภาพ

subside : to become weaker, less violent, or less severe - ลดลง

tension : the feeling caused by a lack of trust between people, groups or countries - ความตึงเครียด

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