Thanong on the monarchy

25 04 2009

A few days ago, PPT briefly mentioned Thanong Khanthong’s blog that prompted us to comment: For royalists, the battle lines are as clear as they have ever been. [An]… increasingly alarmist Thanong … sets out royalist – he says monarchist – views in a blog that is remarkable for its mixture of fact, fiction and speculation. That said, Thanong is worth reading as his position does seem to reflect the rightist position amongst royalists.

One of our regular email correspondents questioned our linking to this blog, arguing that Thanong is in no way representative of any mainstream royalist position. He then went off an read it in detail, trying to cure insomnia. We think it failed as a cure.

We had hoped that the blog would be the end of it, but The Nation (24 April 2009: “The monarchy and the people depend on each other”) has decided to publish a column by Thanong that draws on bits of it (it is also here). Thanong begins: “The Thai monarchy is a revered institution that represents what Thailand is and has been for more than 700 years, since the Sukhothai era. It brings together Thai traditions and culture, and social, political and Buddhist beliefs.” This has long been the official line and the school book version of history. We can’t think of a serious historian who would accept this bit of ideology as history. We recognise that there are historians who accept that their role is to promote this stuff, be we don’t consider them serious.

At the same time, there are interesting ways to read Thanong’s article. For example, he says: “a widespread misconception [is] that the Privy Council … is the monarchy. In fact, the Privy Council is only a functional agency that serves the monarchy. The Privy Council is not the monarchy. The Privy Council gives counsel to … the King, who will use his own judgement on whether to take or not to take that counsel.” It is interesting that Thanong wants to separate the king from his advisors. It would seem that the criticism of privy council big shots like Prem, Surayud and so on are taking a political toll. Thanong apparently fears that this will impact the momarchy.

Then, disagreeing with Thaksin’s recent Financial Times accusation, Thanong explains: “As a matter of fact, His Majesty did not personally approve the 2006 coup…”. Can we assume sloppy language or does Thanong really know what the king does and thinks personally? Our guess is the former, and Thanong is simply parroting the propaganda line again. But Thanong does keep writing of the king’s “personal” views.

Thanong then fires a shot at Paul Handley and The King Never Smiles – how Thanong must hate this book! – but as it is banned in Thailand, and as Thanong gets Handley’s analysis on the nature of the Thai kingship wrong, we must assume that he hasn’t actually read it. If he has leafed through an illicit copy, he has misunderstood it.

Then Thanong gets to the point. “Unfortunately for Thailand, recent political upheavals have tried to destroy this unique feature of the Thai political system…. Thailand has the most unique political system in the world, with the monarchy as the ultimate symbol and stabiliser of last resort. But some quarters of Thai society are intent on destroying this system due to their ignorance and arrogance, and through their belief that liberal democracy and capitalism will bring stability and prosperity to the country.” It appears that the enemies of the monarchy are the proponents of capitalism and liberal democracy.

Pleading his cause, Thanong concludes: “The monarchy’s survival depends on the popular support of the Thai people as a whole. The monarchy must be judged by its relationship with the majority of Thais.” He tries to extract it not just from the Privy Council but also the bureaucracy and the military. At least Thanong sees that the people are now what matters. Can the monarchy build a relationship without the support of these three pillars that have for so long been critical for its prosperity, power and ideological attraction? Thanong seems very worried.



3 responses

29 04 2009
Are Privy Councillors “the monarchy”?-PPT « FACT - Freedom Against Censorship Thailand

[…] Thanong on the monarchy Political Prisoners in Thailand: April 25, 2009 […]

5 12 2012
On birthday politics « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Khanthong who, in the recent past, has penned some bizarre accounts of the monarchy. For him, nothing has changed since 2009, when we comments on his earlier scrambled logic and missing facts. We don’t propose to bore […]

5 12 2012
On birthday politics « Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] Khanthong who, in the recent past, has penned some bizarre accounts of the monarchy. For him, nothing has changed since 2009, when we comments on his earlier scrambled logic and missing facts. We don’t propose to bore […]

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