Ploypailin Kim, a graduate of International Studies ASEAN-China (IAC) program, gave a short interview to the BangkokPost and shared her views on the current social issues. Read the full article here: Coup clique outstays welcome as problems mount.

As the military government moves closer towards marking a full four years in power, many university students are displeased with its commitment to politics and what it has achieved.

May 22 is an important day for the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), because it will mark four years in office since the coup.

If the roadmap leading to elections remains accurate, the next election will take place in February next year. As such, this is a perfect time to reflect on the NCPO’s performance judging by the voices of young adults who have yet to have the opportunity to vote.

CLEAN STREETS, BUT CENSORSHIP

One policy which was applauded by many in Bangkok’s urban community, especially those living around pedestrian walkways, was the stiff curbs on street vendors in the city. One such area is Thammasat University, Tha Pra Chan Campus.

“As a former student there, I used to get annoyed by the amount of vendors illegally doing business, and they were a nuisance for many students who had to travel around the area every day,” says Ploypailin Kim, a graduate of International Studies Asean-China.

“Once the government came in and imposed strict laws, I could get around the school more easily, and the surrounding environment is also cleaner and more aesthetically pleasing. However, we must also consider relocating these vendors properly, as that is equally important,” Ms Ploypailin added.

She was unhappy, however, about the level of censorship that has been imposed since the NCPO took power, seeing it as a barrier to education.

All news agencies had to sign an agreement to produce news which kept peace and order, with state officials as the main arbiter if news outlets committed breaches.

On March 1, the military ordered the Office of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) to shut down Voice TV after it aired a show on the French Revolution, saying it could sow confusion and divisions in the country.

“I think the military government takes censorship to unprecedented heights. If lessons from the French Revolution are deemed too sensitive for discussion, how will Thais learn from the past? Most importantly, how will Thais learn to look at things from different perspectives, because I believe that is what is required to make good political decisions as citizens,” Ms Ploypailin said.

SELECTIVE GRAFT FIGHT

One of the key arguments the NCPO produced to justify its seizure of power was the need to fight Thailand’s world-renowned corruption problems which have plagued the nation for decades.

Many pro-coup observers argued a neutral power such as the military was needed to tackle corruption.

“In the early stages after the military took power, I was satisfied because I truly believed that anti-corruption efforts would be carried out most efficiently when no single party led the operations,” said Kasidit Vorasuk, 22, a graduate from Bangkok University’s International College in Communication of Arts.

“It was certainly successful in exposing the relationship between state officials and the common criminal cases which we are familiar with as Thais such as human trafficking, the drug trade and illegal gambling dens,” he said.

However, Mr Kasidit is concerned that those who still have undivided faith in the administration are blinded by the fact that the big cases that truly matter are still left untouched and undiscussed, often silenced by other news.

“I think an honest approach to fighting corruption should have focused on cases that previous governments refrained from touching, but instead they followed the old path cracking some cases and not targeting the root causes. What about the Dhammakaya scandal, or the wrist watch scandal?

“Have we forgotten a Ferrari mowed down a police officer, or the case surrounding the escape of other high-level fugitives?” Mr Kasidit said.

“I would certainly feel safer under this administration if I thought those who are powerful are treated like everyone else, but I am not sure if that is the case,” Mr Kasidit added.

SOLDIERS, POLITICANS NOT ALIKE

The government’s initial popularity was unrivalled for a military government with many hoping power would be restored within a year or two. Civilians believed their its duty was to sweep the streets and pave the way for the restoration of a democratically elected government.

“I supported the military when they came to power. I had a vision that they would help clear the air on the corruption problems and put in place a healthy election. However, I also knew from the start that soldiers do not have the capabilities to run a country like politicians. Seeing them still here, four years later, was unexpected,” says Paripon Chiamudom 21, a student at Rangsit University.

“They wanted to solve poverty but one of the first things they did was invest $1 billion in submarines. They wanted to be internationally recognised as a legitimate government so as not to jeopardise the economy, but they seem to not understand economics. They were unelected, ill-equipped and incapable of maximising the potential of the government to achieve greater things,” Mr Paripon added.

“Most importantly, most people fear speaking out on how the government might have handled the matter poorly, which is a good reflection of how it is maintaining power. I have nothing to fear, my family and I abide by the law so I can say how I feel,” he added.

News article courtesy of the Bangkok Post.