Abhisit as royalist

14 08 2009

PPT has been noting for some time now that Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has been moving away from all talk of reconciliation and taking up royalist stances with greater vigor (see, for example, here). Of course, the Democrat Party has been royalist since its inception, but when Abhisit was chosen by the military and palace to ascend to the premiership following the court decision to dissolve the People’s Party Power, he claimed to be seeking reconciliation.

PPT was not entirely convinced at that time, and pointed to the Democrat Party government’s inordinate attention to lese majeste in its early days. Its political use of lese majeste and of the monarchy was noted here.

In recent days, pushed more strongly by Sondhi Limthongkul and the PAD, and flummoxed by the red shirt call for a “royal pardon” for Thaksin Shinawatra, Abhisit and his government haves begun to beat the royalist drum even harder.

The government put a huge effort into the queen’s birthday celebrations (see Bangkok Post. Thousands of civil servants and military officers were ordered to attend and reliable sources say that buses were used to bring people in from the countryside, with some remuneration.

Despite the queen’s earlier statement that she wanted a smaller affair, it seems that political demands outweighed this suggestion. While one report says there were 300,000, televisions showed smaller crowds than this in Bangkok locations. The military also put considerable investment into the celebrations, all announced on television.

Ask and you shall receive: the queen’s speech spurred Abhisit to action (The Nation). The premier said he had asked the Agriculture Minister to work with Transport Minister on artificial reefs and to look into the issues regarding rice and developing rice quality to help promote the economy, both issues the queen raised. In regard to Her Majesty’s concern about the Thai traditional performing art known as Khon, Culture Minister Teera Slukpetch said he would assign the Fine Arts Department and to arrange Khon performances.

PPT thinks that Abhisit and his supporters are likely to continue this political use of the monarchy as it remains the most powerful political call they can muster in the struggle with Thaksin and his supporters. They also know that royalist calls can be used to keep the military on side, at least for the moment.



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