A turbulent time for govt
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A turbulent time for govt

Winning an election and forming a coalition is one thing; running a country, another. After nine months at Government House, the Srettha Thavisin government finds itself struggling to fulfil its campaign promises. Tough issues -- such as the charter rewrite, boosting tourism, the 10,000-baht digital wallet scheme and the sluggish economy -- remain a fierce challenge.

The government has been able to do little about issues such as household debt and narcotic drugs since it took office last August. On top of that, people are dissatisfied with the government's failed attempt to resuscitate the economy.

One key survey late last month by King Prajadhipok's Institute showed that if an election was to be held soon, Pheu Thai and the government would lag far behind the Move Forward Party (MFP), its arch-rival.

Only 8.7% of respondents said they would vote for Mr Srettha; 46.9% supported the MFP's chief adviser Pita Limjaroenrat, 17.7% former prime minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, and 10.5% Pheu Thai Party leader Paetongtarn Shinawatra.

If the two-ballot system was applied to the election, 35.7 % of respondents said they would vote for MFP candidates while 44.9% pledged support for the party, against 18.1% and 20.2% respectively for Pheu Thai; 11.2% and 3.5% for Bhumjaithai and 9.2% and 10.9% for United Thai Nation (UTN).

The poll suggested the MFP would scoop 208 seats, almost double Pheu Thai's prospective 105 seats, followed by Bhumjaithai (61), UTN (34) and Palang Pracharath (30).

Mr Srettha said he respected the results. The institute, which is affiliated with parliament, is a neutral agency and its work is deemed objective.

Such a poor performance prompted former prime minister and party heavyweight Thaksin Shinawatra to make more visits to the party's usual strongholds with the hope of maintaining -- or regaining -- public support.

The following week, the National Statistical Office (NSO) released a study showing more favourable results for the government, with 44.3 % of respondents saying they were highly satisfied with the government's performance during its first six months in office, 39.6% moderately satisfied and 14.1% slightly satisfied. According to the NSO, the survey was conducted among 6,970 participants aged 16 and above across the country from April 22 to May 15. Unsurprisingly, the government spokesman said the NSO polls suggested overwhelming public endorsement for the administration.

Even if the survey's objectivity is questioned, taking into consideration the NSO is a state agency under the Digital Economy Ministry, the results showed the respondents were seriously concerned with the ongoing economic slump. They urged the government to address the soaring prices of consumer products as well as expensive electricity fees, another Pheu Thai pre-poll promise.

The government is facing a turbulent time, given the pending case in the charter court involving Mr Srettha's controversial ministerial appointment. In addition, cracks in the coalition have become evident. This does not bode well for the government.

The Srettha government needs to pay heed to those concerns, and speed up its work to win the people's hearts. If not, public support will dry up by the time the government marks its one-year anniversary in the next three months.


Bangkok Post editorial column

These editorials represent Bangkok Post thoughts about current issues and situations.

Email : anchaleek@bangkokpost.co.th

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