BANGKOK – Speaking on his weekly Returning Happiness to Thai People broadcast, Gen Prayut reiterated that his government was doing its best to carry out the first two stages of a three-stage reform plan.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has urged people to cooperate with the government if they want to see a “Quality Democracy”, but concedes that it could take decades for such a society to emerge the Bangkok Post reported.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said, the sweeping reforms the National Council for Peace and Order has in mind cannot be completed within the limited time it has left.
Completing the third phase could therefore involve two or three governments. Some of the issues need 10 or 20 years to be properly addressed.
For now, he said, it was important for people to pull together and support efforts to lay the foundation for real reform.
In an indirect reference to student protests this week against the 2014 coup, Gen Prayut said “I have never played down democracy”, but the country needed a sustainable democracy that would allow people to be happier and this would take time to develop.
“These are important times when we must place priority on the stability of governance and peace and orderliness within the country,” he said.
“I do not think this is the right time for conflicting parties to be conducting movements against each other now.
“We are tackling problems from the past. If we are not allowed to tackle these issues then they will surface again. We are now building a democracy based on quality. We need to use this phrase — a quality democracy.”
Both Gen Prayut and the army chief, Gen Udomdej Sitabutr, have suggested that political interests were behind this week’s protests by student activists. The activists, 14 of whom were arrested on Friday evening, deny those claims.
Attempts by vested interests to use people to obstruct the government’s hard work would trap people in their ongoing poverty because the country could not progress, he said.
One of the developments his government wants to see is more investment by businesses in areas outside of Bangkok, so that more people could earn a better living closer to home. But this won’t happen if conflict reduces the confidence of businesses to invest, he said.
Different kinds of reforms take varying amounts of time to carry out. Some can be done in one year, others might take four or five years. But all of the reforms have to fit together into a bigger picture. “Therefore, we need to clearly specify how we want Thailand to be in the next 20 years,” he said.
He said his government was trying to get the process started by speeding up spending on infrastructure to strengthen competitiveness, and working on ways to reduce energy dependence on oil and gas.
It has a long-term, comprehensive water management plan for the next decade to expand irrigated areas nationwide from 30 million rai to 40 million rai to serve both agriculture and industry.
The government is also planning better housing and professions for the poor and promoting social businesses for local communities. As well, it has opened over 800 learning centres for farmers who want to improve their practices.
The government was also amending “more than a hundred laws” to ensure more equitable access to justice.
“This will allow all members of the public better access to the judicial process and allow the use of law to empower society,” he said.