BANGKOK • The Thai junta's popularity rating has touched the lowest level since it came to power following a military coup in May 2014, hitting lows seen by the civilian government that it overthrew, according to the results of the latest survey by security agencies.
However, the good news for the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) was that it enjoyed higher popularity in the north-east, where most supporters of the ousted Pheu Thai-led government live, the opinion poll found.
In some north-eastern provinces, such as Nakhon Phanom, the junta's popularity has doubled. This could be due to the benefits reaped by residents under junta rule, including higher rice prices.
But in other provinces in the region, such as Roi Et and Kalasin, there were only small improvements. The NCPO saw its popularity fall in the northern and central regions, and particularly in the south, where much of its support came from after it seized power.
Support in the south has dwindled as the NCPO-led government failed to prop up falling rubber prices while getting tough with fishermen and power plant protesters.
In the latest survey of residents in all 77 provinces after three years in power, the Prayut Chan-o-cha government got an average approval score of 5.73, out of 10.
That compared with the 5.28 approval rating for the Yingluck Shinawatra government shortly before the coup of 2014. The junta saw its highest approval rating six months after the coup, at 7.02.
The latest survey also found that many respondents experienced economic insecurity. And they were still bogged down by problems related to well-being, safety and crime, as well as political conflicts. These factors were seen as the reasons for the junta's fall in popularity ratings to its lowest level since it came to power.
According to the survey, people wanted the government to focus on tackling problems related to well-being, as they felt there had been no improvement. Respondents pointed to the rise in unemployment, the falling agricultural prices and the rising cost of living.
On social issues, they wanted the government to give priority to tackling problems related to drugs and vice. Those surveyed also called for sufficient welfare for the elderly, the disabled and the non-privileged. On political issues, respondents asked the government to tackle corruption fairly. They also wanted the junta to tackle the problems of political provocation, hate speech and fake news.
The public opinions were gathered by the relevant security agencies as part of the junta's project to encourage reconciliation and unity.
THE NATION/ASIA NEWS NETWORK