You doubt about the role of the King?

3 10 2006

From the protest led by the People Alliance for Democracy to the military coup led by the Council for Democratic Reform (under the Consitutional Monarchy), and especially when the full name of CDR was shorten or left out the words “under the constitutional monarchy” presumably after widespread criticism made by foreign press, a few people were in doubt if the King has been behind it all…and if yes….since when…

As a Thai, I was taught to respect King Bhumibol Adulyadej since I was small. Through television channel, radio programme and newspaper, I came to learn about what he has done for the country. I know that he supposes to have only limited political influence in Thai political system and development and so I had never any doubt about his role in politics.

However, i was surprised to see him intervene to end street violence in 1992 (May uprising) by giving a few words to the main rivals General Suchinda and Gen Chamlong Sri Muang who were kneeling side-by-side at his feet. Again early this year in 2006, when the political temperature was at its peak the king described the situation as “a mess” and advised the country’s top three courts to annul the controversial snap election in April. And comes his endorsement of the recent coup on 19th September as showned in the above picture. The commander in chief of Army, Air Force and Navy together with the chairman of the Privy Council met with the King and the Qeen prior to their televised official announcement. The latest scene of the king was on Sunday 1st October 2006 when he approved the nomination of our new prime minister Surayud Chulanont, a former member of the Privy Council and a former Commander in Chief of the Army.
We heard rumours that the gulf between the monarcy and the prime minister was growing immediately after the king’s 60th anniversary, as he tried to greet guests before they met with then royal family. Some even suggested that the conflict in the Thai capital was actually of Thaksin versus the king. Not only both have different personalities and attitudes, they implemented their policies and agendas differently. While the king promotes self-sufficiency in business and social practice, Thaksin promotes his populist agendas directly related to his family business. Thaksin referred to the king as “highly influencial person above the constitution” in his weekly radio programme and accused him of attempting to overthrow the government, many people assumed he was referring to the king’s closest aides, retired General Prem Tinasulanonda. Prem in return when addressed a group of Thai army cadets said that they should not pay respect to a corrupt leader. Rumors that his plan after he returned was to limit the influence of the monarchy. Could it be that the palace realised this and decided to make the move first…and a winner. Most of the Thais love their king and see him as a pwerful figure who can solve all the problems, especially since his intrvention in the incident in 1992.

It can not be denined that the king was somehow linked in this crisis. Television showed only the king activities in the entire night of 19th September. General Sondhi said that the Coulcil for Democratic Reform under the constitutional monarchy was acting in defence of the king and asked all soldiers to wear yallow armbands signalling their royalty to the crown. General Sondhi went to the palace prior to and after taking over.

No doubt, the CDR and our new prime minister have a blessing from our king Bhumibol. He will remain to be seen as an influencial figure outside political scene and above the consitution. But we all know well that he yields immense power due to the high respect in which he is held.


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