BANGKOK — PM Prayut Chan-o-cha is meeting three major media groups in an effort to gather public opinion on coronavirus social policies, his aides said.
In an itinerary released to the media on Wednesday, Prayut will pay visits to Daily News, Thairath, and the Nation Multimedia Group, and other newspapers as part of his tour throughout the coming days. The Prime Minister will pay a call to the Matichon Group, which owns Khaosod English, on Friday.
According to the announcement, Gen. Prayut will seek opinions from media executives and editorial teams on government policies to be implemented in the “New Normal,” post-pandemic society. Prayut said the visits are not related to politics.
“I’m not coming here today to discuss politics,” Prayut said after his meeting with Bangkok Post’s owner, the Post Publishing, on Wednesday. “I just want to find out ways to move the country forward.”
He continued, “even though I’m the prime minister, I have to admit that I’m worried about it. There’s a lot of problems in Thailand. It’s the government’s ‘new normal’ way of working.”
But the president of a national newspaper guild said the move is clearly part of Prayut’s PR plan to appear more “approachable” to the public.
“It’s his attempt to adjust himself to the people,” National Press Council of Thailand chairman Chavarong Limpattamapanee said by phone. “He said he wants to become a new person, so he has to do something to show it off.”
“I don’t know whether he will implement what the media suggest to him,” Chavarong added.
The visits also appear to be Prayut’s attempt of rapprochement with the press. The general who was given the nickname “Angry Pot” by Government House beat reporters last year, has a record of rocky relationship with the media since he seized power in a May 2014 coup.
The former general often responded to reporters’ questions with outbursts of anger, and sometimes even swore at them – a source of numerous memes on the Thai internet.
Speaking at Post Publishing on Wednesday, the Prime Minister vowed to maintain vigilant health measures against the coronavirus.
Prayut also pledged to roll out additional measures to alleviate people affected by the economic impact of the pandemic.