Local leaders 'ordered' to answer Prayut's 6 queries

Local leaders 'ordered' to answer Prayut's 6 queries

People arrive at a Damrongtham centre in Bangkok to answer six questions on governance posed recently by Prime Mnister Prayut Chan-o-cha. Many provinces reported a low turnout on the first day of answer-collecting. (Photo by Pornprom Satrabhaya)
People arrive at a Damrongtham centre in Bangkok to answer six questions on governance posed recently by Prime Mnister Prayut Chan-o-cha. Many provinces reported a low turnout on the first day of answer-collecting. (Photo by Pornprom Satrabhaya)

Some community leaders have effectively been ordered to answer the six questions about governance recently posed to the public by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, according to Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva.

Some critics have blasted the questions for their divisive potential.

Mr Abhisit said Monday he was informed that a number of community leaders or their representatives received instructions to visit their local Damrongtham complaint centres and answer the premier's questions.

"We don't know who gave the orders. We can't verify that at the moment," he said.

The six questions are intended to sound out people's thoughts on a future government and politicians with one of the most controversial being whether the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has the right to support a political party, presumably with an eye to the general election next November.

The answers will be collected nationwide over the next three weeks. The campaign, which some pundits have labelled a political ploy, kicked off Monday with a generally low and potentially face-losing turnout.

The Democrat leader said he believed many of the replies from the community leaders may not reflect their real opinions as some would be cowed into avoiding answers the regime could interpret in a negative light.

Mr Abhisit said the poll factors out anonymity and therefore does not meet the accepted standard for an opinion survey. Respondents must show up at the centres and produce their ID cards before answering the questions.

The Democrat leader said the prime minister should focus on gauging public opinion on more bread-and-butter matters instead.

The questions also have the potential to sow discord between the NCPO and politicians, he said.

He added the NCPO has the right to support a political party but they must not do so using state power.

On Monday, interior permanent secretary Chatchai Promlert said the venues were ready to receive people's answers.

Many provinces reported a low turnout. In Bangkok's Laksi district about 10 people showed up.

Nawee Utwathee, 62, said he was neither a supporter nor critic of the prime minister but he appreciated having a channel open to voice his opinion.

The centres in Chai Nat, Trang and Ubon Ratchathani were also quiet.


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