Abhisit proves his loyalty to royalty

9 09 2009

Since the palace’s involvement in the events leading up to the 2006 coup, there has been a renewed effort to promote the monarchy in the face of the criticism it has received.

The Democrat Party-led government under Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has mostly been responsible for what might be called “negative promotion.” It has used the lese majeste laws, promoted signage that urges “protecting the monarchy,” used the monarchy as a politicized national symbol, and has involved the monarchy in its political actions against opponents.

Now, however, the government has manufactured an opportunity for the previously more usual positive promotion of the monarchy. The Bangkok Post (9 September 2009: “Nation marks 09/09/09 for King”) reports that the government has enjoined Thais nationwide to pay their respects to the king, “the ninth monarch of the Chakri Dynasty, at 9.09am on the auspicious date of the ninth day of the ninth month of 2009.”

Of course, Prime Minister Abhisit “lit a candle in front of the portrait of His Majesty and spoke in honour of him. He then led his cabinet, civil servants and high-ranking military officers in singing the royal anthem to mark the auspicious time and day.”

This is not unusual, for all recent prime ministers have had to acknowledge the king in ever more wondrous ways. However, for Abhisit, this event is more significant. He says, “We want to draw attention to the charisma of His Majesty the King, both domestically and internationally.”

This is because the monarchy’s prestige has fallen considerably in both spheres. The decline is largely self-inflicted and inflicted with the support of the military and the royalists themselves.

Related, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, now led by the Democrat Party governor and minor prince Sukhumbhand Paripatra, “held a religious ceremony at City Hall to mark the special occasion” with 109 monks (why not 99?) received at 9.09 a.m.

Women were even induced to give birth in celebration or in search of that extra bit of auspiciousness: “Hospitals were also a bit more crowded than usual as some pregnant women wanted to deliver their babies on this day. Rajavithi Hospital director Dr Warunee Jinarat said nine pregnant women had made arrangements with doctors for their babies tro be born on this special day, but they did not specify that the babies must be delivered at 9.09am, she said.” While this sounds contrived, is it legal? If it is legal, is it appropriate ethical practice?

PPT might have been tempted to use this piece as its weekend humor post, but for Abhisit and his government, such activities are considered critical in the battle against republicans and event the “constitutional monarchy” red shirts opposed to some privy councilors.



2 responses

10 09 2009
New: Royal expenses « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Royal expenses PPT had a post on the 9.9.09 auspicious day events for Abhisit Vejjajiva and his government. Now the Bangkok Post […]

10 09 2009
New: Lavish celebrations and lese majeste « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] couple of PPT posts. This report is about the 9.9.09 celebrations that PPT commented on when noting Abhisit Vejjajiva’s loyalty to royalty and in a short note on royal wealth and taxpayer […]

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