BANGKOK — Junta chairman and Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha is planning to launch a new PR blitz informing the public of what he has achieved since seizing power from an elected government last May, his spokesperson said.
Gen. Prayuth believes his PR teams have failed to adequately inform the public about what he and the junta, formally known as the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), have accomplished, said Maj.Gen. Sansern Kaewkumnerd.
"In recent months, the performance of the government, NCPO, and Ministries’ spokespersons have not satisfied the Prime Minister," said Maj.Gen. Sansern. "Their work has not been impressive. So the Prime Minister has ordered us to step up our efforts and create better understanding among the public."
Gen. Prayuth led the military coup against the government of Yingluck Shinawatra on 22 May 2014 amid ongoing anti-government protests in Bangkok. The former army chief was later appointed Prime minister by an interim parliament whose members he handpicked.
The junta chairman says the military takeover was needed to resolve the country’s political conflicts and bring about a series of national "reforms" before the next election can take place.
Since last May, he has used various state media channels to inform the public about the junta’s projects, including a weeklytelevised program every Friday in which he addresses the nation directly. State channels also broadcast a daily 15-minute segment called "Thailand Moves Forward," which extols the military government's efforts to reform Thailand's economic, social, and political sectors.
However, such PR efforts have been deemed inadequate, Maj.Gen. Sansern said.
"Each Ministry has to explain [about the junta's work], even if it means joining forums or shows that also feature members with opposing views, so that they can explain and create correct understanding," the spokesperson explained. "It's like turning crises into opportunities."
Maj.Gen. Sansern said that Gen. Prayuth does not plan to extend the airtime of his weekly talk show, called "Returning Happiness to the People," but may change some of the show’s content.
"We may adjust the content to fit the desire of the public," Maj.Gen. Sansern said.
In November 2014, Gen. Prayuth complained to the press that the public was not paying enough attention to his show.
"Are you all bored of it now? Do you want me to dance in front of the camera next time?" Gen. Prayuth asked on 25 November. He also instructed technicians at the Government House to change the background of the TV show to make it more "interesting."
His call spurred a number of social media users to post photoshopped images of Gen. Prayuth with comical backgrounds.
In the end, technicians simply adjusted the background by filming Gen. Prayuth in the interior of the Government House, instead of using the previous superimposed images of the Thai national flag.
When a reporter asked Gen. Prayuth on 28 November what he thought about the "submissions" by the Thai internet users, the junta chairman responded curtly: "I've seen them. They are all disgusting."