With the second draft of the constitution soon to be put to a public referendum, we took to Bangkok’s streets to ask a cross section of people whether they’re happy with the current government, and whether they’ll be exercising their democratic voice during the upcoming referendum.
Pholpraphai, 56, tuk tuk driver
I don’t really care about politics. I just need to earn a daily living. Now the economy is bad. My customers have decreased by 50 percent. But I know that when the referendum for the new constitution comes around, I will be placing my vote. I never miss a single election.
Charoonwit, 39, quality control expert
I cut politics from my life following the turmoil on the streets caused by both the yellow and red shirts. Those who get in trouble from political unrest are ordinary citizens while the heads of each protest continue to live good, untroubled lives. For the new constitution, I will choose the “no vote.”
Thitipol, 25, communications student
People seem afraid to express their political opinions. The new constitution might seem like it’s moving things forward but I’m not sure it will solve our problems in the long term. I do still want them to finish it quickly so it can be reviewed and approved by the public and we can return to democracy very soon.
Panya, 33, motorcycle taxi driver
I like that the situation in Bangkok is peaceful now with no street mobs. I can’t stand when Thais fight one another as has happened in the past. Though I don’t really follow political news, I am happy that the new constitution is finished and that the public can vote on it.
Zulkeflee, 27, tea vendor
I am not interested in politics. I care more about the economy, especially in my hometown of Pattani, where all my family still struggle to make a living with such low rubber prices. I couldn’t make money at home—that’s why I have to sell tea in Bangkok.
Niwat, 55, T-shirt vendor
Since we’re being forced to move out of our market, I don’t like the situation right now. It’s hard for us to gather more than 10 people as junta law doesn’t allow us to do so. We want to gather to propose our request to stay at the old market. I want Thailand to have an election soon, but I doubt I will approve the new constitution as I don’t like the confusing vote system in which one ballot lets you choose more than one representative at once. I see no improvements from the constitution of 20 years ago. The rich still have more rights than the poor like us.
Karatay, 21, design student
I don’t care about politics; I’m just happy that the situation now feels calm. The presence of the junta only annoys me because they close bars too early! My favorite spot on Khao San Road used to open till 6am but now it has to close at midnight. I have no idea about the new constitution but will review it before the referendum.
Prasita, 28, flight attendant
It’s a relief that the junta has brought peace to the country, but their military backgrounds mean they haven’t helped the economy. The process of improving the economy is so slow. I want the new constitution to allow all people to exercise their democratic rights, not just those who have money. I like Prayuth. He’s straightforward. Thaksin I also thought was nice but too corrupt.
Suthida, 24, sales officer
I was so fed up with the old style of Thai government. They were campaigning and promoting their policies and nothing ever got better. I want a new constitution that’s truly rigorous and which doesn’t let anyone get away from the law, no matter how rich they are.
Apisara, 27, financial advisor
I want this new constitution to stand the test of time and live for hundreds of years as in other countries—not to change every 5-10 years! I’m happy that there are no longer any protests since I couldn’t go out anywhere before.
Anwar, 24, receptionist
I want the new constitution to improve our notorious education system. We have so many tests but they don’t help our students achieve anything. I also want our justice system to be stricter. Is getting fined B500 really enough to make people afraid of the law? Though I like that Prayuth has cleared the protests, I will review the constitution before I vote in the referendum.
Pathipol , 24, art student
The current political process doesn’t allow people to get involved. It’s good that they fast-track some things, like demolishing Saphan Lek, but soldiers don’t have the communication skills with the people to understand basic human rights.
Sahakrit, 28, salesperson
Democracy might look good in other countries but the most important thing for us is our new constitution—it must be genuinely practical for Thailand. If this constitution has the capacity to solve future problems then democracy can be achieved. I hope it will prevent corruption, too.
Thanawat, 38, textile business owner
I’m happy with the junta and their efforts to get rid of corruption. But I worry that their military backgrounds mean they cannot handle economic problems. I’m also not happy at the fury they show when people try and express political opinions. They should be more open -minded. We have come further than that.
Sujitra, 25, business owner
I have no feelings about the situation right now. Thailand has got in such a mess that I’ve given up worrying about it.
Suriya, 29, taxi driver
I know nothing about the new constitution—I’m busy making a living. All I hope is that it will bring us peace and that we won’t need to write a new one ever again. It wastes our country’s money! When we get an election, I will vote for Pheu Thai as I always have done.
Jettana, 30, finance and banking officer
The new generation wants to express its political opinion and the government should let it. Yes, there must be limits but not so strict as to ban any discussion at all. Let the people be a part of drafting the new constitution. I want to see elections soon.
At the request of an interviewee who has received online hate messages, we have removed their answer from this story.