Practised posterior polisher Foreign Ministry permanent secretary Sihasak Phuangketkeow is perhaps the appropriate person to bring Privy Council president Prem Tinsulanond back into open politics.
Of course, after the palace’s terrible political miscalculation of the 2006 military-palace coup, where Prem and his co-conspirators in the military and Privy Council were shown to have been directly involved in planning and implementing the coup. This mistake was compounded for the monarchy when the king and queen met the junta almost immediately and in person.
Everyone who watched knew that this was a coup the palace wanted and helped bring about. When politics became more complicated and divided, these mistakes and miscalculations became the grist of the political mill, severely damaging the monarchy and requiring the massive use of lese majeste and related laws to repress anti-monarchy sentiment.
So when the planning was underway for the 2014 coup – for years, according to one source who should know – the military and palace decided that the latter had to be quiet and operate behind the scenes. Quiet, seemingly disconnected, and saving a ton of face and a little remaining political capital.
Now that the coup is done and the military dictatorship firmly repressing dissent, rigging the future of politics and smashing red shirt organization, the palace is being brought back in.
The Bangkok Post reports that the leader of the royalist faction is being wheeled out to support dictatorship. Prem “has been invited to visit China to mark the 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries…”. What better way to mark a return of the boss than to have him make the links to other authoritarian regimes.
Bottom buffer Sihasak “said he was informed by the Chinese government about the invitation, which he claimed reflected the close and long-standing relationship between the countries.”
The dictatorship wants to make this event a big deal as it will be portrayed as a big deal for a regime that is pretty much isolated except from other authoritarians and dictators.
There will be “another exchange of high-level visits, including a royal visit.” Both Chulabhorn and Sirindhorn have long links with the authoritarian regime in China, so one or both of them will continue that link. Sirindhorn has been the favored propagandist for China in Thailand.
Sihasak threatened the recalcitrant West, stating: “Thailand is ready to work with any country that wants to cooperate, but a true friend is a friend in tough times.” The palace seems ever ready to support authoritarianism at home and abroad.