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There are concerns about rifts in society as the different political groups in Thailand see each other as enemies of war. - EPA/File pic

Thailand seems to be regressing after long periods of political mass rallies and military coups, with Thai politics developing into a war of factions.

Veteran political analyst Thirayuth Boonmee issued this warning saying the current situation had been made worse after army chief General Apirat Kongsompong launched a tirade last week and secretary general of the Future Forward Party (FFP) Piyabutr Saengkanokkul responded fiercely in the media.

Speaking at the Oct 14 Memorial to mark the 46th anniversary of the 1973 popular uprising, the student leader who steered the struggle for democracy that culminated in the 1973 massacre said the army was obsessed with national security and had failed to encourage the public to share a common goal.

"The FFP, which is popular among younger generations and middle classes not in favour of the status quo, can make certain points but they often clash with the government," the Bangkok Post quoted him as saying.

“Moreover, it has yet to offer any detailed development plans to move the country forward."

Prof Thirayuth said there were concerns about rifts in society as the different political groups saw each other as enemies of war.

In this war, he said, factions viewed one another as a national threat even though the situation in Thailand remained normal.

He also urged rival factions to end the "enemy mindset", which also preceded another massacre on Oct 6, 1976.

"At that time, students were deemed a communist threat and could be killed with the impunity of karma. That enemy mindset has now returned."

He pointed out that the government and the army have mismanaged the conflict.

"The armed forces prioritise its loyalty to the country, religion and King as a national problem. It really matters, but it is not as urgent as other bread-and-butter issues, such as inequality, corruption and human rights.

"The army has been very vocal about loyalty. This has taken people back because it is the only group with weapons of war. In fact, most Thais value the institution while dissidents make up an insignificant part," he said.

Referring to General Apirat's remarks, he said the army should not have said that Thailand was now facing a hybrid war because "it will really break out if the situation is exacerbated".

Prof Thirayuth said the government must remain neutral and if the state failed to do so, it would convince people to believe that internal war was erupting or the government was declaring war on certain groups.

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