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Junta gets thumbs-down in varsity survey

May 20. 2018
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By The Nation

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A survey of 2,175 university students found that most respondents believed the military coup did not solve the country’s problems, and the performance of the General Prayut Chan-o-cha-led government during the past four years was “bad or very bad”, according to the poll by the Thai Academic Network for Civil Rights.

The respondents were from 19 universities including Thammasat University, Chulalongkorn Univ-ersity, Prince of Songkla University, Khon Kaen University and Chiang Mai University. 

Asked whether the military figures behind the coup ran the country better than elected politicians, 86.2 per cent of those polled said, “No”. 

More than half of the respondents also said they had no confidence that the 2017 Constitution would successfully fight corruption, protect people’s rights and freedoms, prevent vote buying, defend human rights or promote welfare. 

Of those polled, 70.8 per cent said they were not confident that the junta’s 20-year national strategy would usher Thailand towards progress. 

Up to 35 per cent of respondents said the next prime minister could be “anyone except Prayut”.

The survey found Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit (6.8 per cent) was even more popular than former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra (5.7 per cent) and Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva (4.1 per cent). Prayut got support from just 1.9 per cent of respondents. Stand-up comedian and writer Udom Taepanich enjoyed 1.1 per cent backing respondents on the question of who should become the next prime minister.

Asked which party they would vote for, 22.7 per cent of those polled said they would cast their ballot for Democrat Party. About 20.3 per cent said they would vote for Pheu Thai Party. Future Forward Party garnered 10 per cent support. Up to 21.6 per cent said they would vote for a new alternative. Only 2.5 per cent said they would vote for a pro-military party. 

Dr Samchai Sresunt, who teaches at Thammasat University’s Puey Ungphakorn School of Development Studies, said these findings reflected the lack of trust for the current government held by university students.

“They do not want the pro-military party. They do not want Prayut,” he summarised. 

Thanapol Phanngam, Kasesart University student, said new-generation people no longer trusted that the current government would fight corruption, citing Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister General Prawit Wongsuwon’s luxury-watch scandal as a reason. 

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