Thailand’s military junta has conducted a poll that found more than 99 per cent of Thais are “happy” with its performance.
The National Statistics Office’s poll of 2,700 Thais came a day before the government was due to present its own one-year performance review.
The generals, who toppled the democratically elected administration of Yingluck Shinawatra in a coup in May 2014, have stifled the media and banned political gatherings. They promised to bring stability to a country after months of bloody protests.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has had journalists, academics and activists detained. The general wrote a song, “Because You Are Thailand”, in an attempt to boost national morale.
Prayuth told reporters the song was his New Year present to the people.
The lyrics are: “I have only two hands and breathe alone. There may not be enough power to make a dream come true. But if we join hands and breathe together, the day we hope for is not far away.”
It is not clear if the song refers to a general election, which the military has promised to hold in 2017 or later as part of a complex timeframe that can be delayed at numerous junctures.
The junta has repeatedly delayed elections, claiming the country is not yet stable enough to hold a poll.
Another Prayuth hit, written just after the military took power, called “Returning Happiness to the People”, is frequently played on state media and has more than 1 million YouTube views.
Prayuth comes from a musical family. His daughters enjoyed brief fame in Thailand as a pop duo called BADZ.
This week’s poll found 98.9 per cent of respondents were confident in the government’s efforts to solve the nation’s problems and 99.3 per cent said they were satisfied with the junta’s overall performance.
However, more than half apparently said they wanted the government to curb rising prices.
The Thai economy has suffered this year, with the IMF cutting growth forecasts for 2016 from 4 per cent to 3.2 per cent. Falling private investment, in part due to political instability, has hampered the economy.
Earlier this year, Prayuth boasted that he had the power to shut down media outlets and when asked how the junta would deal with journalists who do not “report the truth”, he said: “We’ll probably just execute them”.
He is sticking by the policy of “attitude adjustment”, a programme where anyone can be held for as long as several days to be punished for criticism of the government.
“If you let them blame me, the people and society will listen to them every day, and one day they’ll believe in the things they say,” Prayuth said in September after two politicians were brought in for questioning his handling of the economy.
The practice could be used against any dissenters, Prayuth said.
He explained: “Everyone whose comments cause division, bad intent to the government, criticising the things the government didn’t do, causes trouble and blames a government.”