Running toward a crisis
With two major political gatherings, one seeking to oust Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha from power and the other throwing its support behind him, going on over the weekend, it cannot be denied that the country is on the brink of plunging into a new round of crisis.
Wing Lai Lung, or "Run to Oust the Uncle", which took place in Bangkok's Suan Rot Fai or Vachirabenjatas Park and some other provinces drew several thousand participants and firebrand politicians, including Future Forward Party (FFP) leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, FFP list-MP and spokeswoman Pannika Wanich, and Prachachart secretary-general Thawee Sodsong.
The pro-government rally, Dern Cheer Lung, at Lumpini Park also attracted a large crowd. The word Lung or "Uncle" here, refers to Gen Prayut.
The government denied it was behind the pro-Prayut event, but the event's uniformity and the assistance rendered by state authorities to the organisers -- in contrast to the other rally, where participants complained of intimidation by local police -- seems to suggest otherwise.
It's fortunate that the Sunday rallies came to an end without incident, but this is just the start.
Tanawat Wongchai, organiser of the anti-Prayut run, said the next activity is scheduled for early next month in Chiang Mai. A key figure in the pro-government camp vowed to stage a counter-rally in parallel.
Such confrontations, if allowed to continue, will threaten the country's political stability, with far-reaching effects.
Sontirat Sontijirawong, secretary-general of the ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP), seemed to be aware of the issue, urging both camps on Sunday to keep their political activities calm and avoid taking to the streets, adding social rifts and political missteps should avoided to stop the country from slipping back into a crisis. He seems to show understanding when he urged "all sides to look at the big picture".
Such understanding is commendable and he, along with the government, must prove that those words are sincere, not mere lip service.
That some political elements have tried to take the issue to the streets demonstrates at a certain level the loss of trust and confidence in the parliamentary system and the government's performance.
It is of utmost importance for the government and concerned officials to review their performance and find out why so many people experience frustrations, and fix the problems accordingly.
The government must avoid labelling those who criticise them as enemies, or, even worse, traitors.
Such an attitude will blind the government from seeking the truth -- let alone seeing its own shortcomings in dealing with urgent issues like hazardous smog, drought, inequality as well as the economic downturn -- which will only worsen the problems.
The government and other institutions must do more to revive public trust in the democratic system. To achieve that, all those concerned must prove that the law is applied without favour to everyone, and that no politicians or elements benefit from cronyism or nepotism.
In addition, the government should be more open to calls to amend the regime-sponsored constitution.
It may be helpful if the government and those in opposing camp -- both academics and critics -- set up a dialogue to bridge their differences and defuse what appears to be a new political time bomb, before it's too late.
Bangkok Post editorial column
These editorials represent Bangkok Post thoughts about current issues and situations.
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