Palace politics

11 05 2009

Yesterday, PPT commented on Thanphuying Viriya Chavakul’s interview (Bangkok Post, 10 May 2009: “Thanphuying speaks out on Sondhi and Thaksin”) that seemed to indicate that politics in the palace was increasingly divided.

We missed it, and thank Bangkok Pundit for the excellent analysis of Shawn Crispin’s latest article at Asia Times Online (7 May 2009: “My friend is my enemy in Thailand”). Because of Bangkok Pundit’s excellent commentary, PPT won’t add much, except to link to the issue of divided and divisive palace politics.

Crispin claims that Thaksin Shinawatra is trying to enhance his “negotiating leverage” over his seized assets by attacking privy councilors for “orchestrating the 2006 coup and recently alleged in an interview with the Financial Times that King Bhumibol Adulyadej had foreknowledge of the putsch. Before that, Thaksin is also known to have lost touch with Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, reaffirming the notion that neither is the monarchy a static institution with its relationships.” Now, Crispin claims that he has been told by unnamed “diplomats and a well-placed palace source, [that] Thaksin had on several occasions after returning from exile in 2008 met with Vajiralongkorn in Bangkok via his trusted associate, Sino Thai Engineering and Construction Company chairman Anutin Charnvirakul. The two had also met on at least two separate occasions when Thaksin was in exile in London after the 2006 coup and Vajiralongkorn spent nine months of calendar 2007 in Europe.”

Crispin then observes that, “It was lost on few seasoned observers that the UDD’s April 12 assault on Prime Minister’s Office secretary general Nipon Prompan’s car at the Ministry of Interior had particular symbolic value because of the senior bureaucrat’s known close ties to Vajiralongkorn, including formative years together at a European boarding school. Some diplomats have interpreted that assault and the UDD’s public criticisms of top privy councilors as a strong signal that Thaksin and his allies could complicate the impending royal succession, where Vajiralongkorn is the heir apparent to the throne. At the same time, many believe Thaksin may have overstepped the mark by mentioning the widely revered 81-year-old Bhumibol in recent political remarks to the foreign media.”

He also refers to Sondhi Limthongkul’s attacks on army chief Anupong Paochinda andarmy chief of staff General Prayuth Chan-ocha over the failed assassination bid, that Sondhi is taking “hard aim at Anupong and Prayuth, [who are] both established royalists who served in Queen Sirikit’s Royal Guard Infantry Regiment…”. This has caused “diplomats and analysts wonder whether Sondhi will continue to mobilize defense-of-the-monarchy themes at any future protests, including ones that potentially target top military officials or royal advisors.”

Crispin also mentions Sondhi’s allegations against Thanphuying Viriya and Crispin adds another name associated with the queen, mentioning the: “apparent fall from favor of top royal advisor and Sondhi ally Piya Malakul, who according to one royal insider hasn’t attended functions at the palace for over a month. Piya is known to be close to Queen Sirikit and was often the lone advisor to accompany Bhumibol when he previously took outdoor walks around his seaside palace in Hua Hin. One palace insider says that Piya was the top advisor who suggested that Queen Sirikit attend the funeral services of a PAD protester killed during a melee with police last October 7, indicating to some tacit royal backing for the PAD. Piya was also accused by Thaksin of playing host to a dinner at his residence in May 2006 where the coup against his government was allegedly planned. Piya has strongly denied the charges, claiming no military officials were present at the meeting.”

It seems that Thailand’s political conflicts are shaking up the palace.


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2 08 2009
New: Baffling in Bangkok « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] range of people, from the military top brass to police and people close to the palace (see here and here and […]

22 12 2014
Not cleaned | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] back in 2009, PPT posted on some seemingly divided palace politics. That post linked to an Asia Times Online article by Shawn Crispin about Thaksin Shinawatra and the […]