The king’s health rumors are allegedly a political plot

16 10 2009

Also available as ข่าวลือเรื่องพระพลานามัยของกษัตริย์ ถูกหาว่าเป็นแผนทางการเมือง

In its editorial, The Nation (16 October 2009: “Rumours on HM’s health are deplorable”) comes up with some remarkable claims and accusations. It begins: “False hearsay regarding the King could have been started for political, even financial gain.”

The Nation was one of those newspapers which reported “rumors” when the stock market began to tumble, but refused to say what the rumors were (see PPT’s comments here). Such lack of transparency in reporting causes people to try to find out what the rumors are.

The Nation seems to think that the rumors should have been scotched after the royal household said that “81-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej, receiving treatment at Siriraj Hospital since September 19, was recovering from a lung inflammation.” Actually the palace has been releasing daily but very short and unclear, sometimes contradictory reports each day. But the king had been in hospital for almost a month. Without more transparency, rumors were guaranteed.

The Nation’s editorial gets on the soapbox and proclaims: “We condemn the source or sources of rumours that play on this subject.” Why? Well, because “King Bhumibol is a constitutional monarch with no formal political role, but he has repeatedly brought calm in times of turbulence and is widely revered as the country’s moral authority and a unifying figure.”

That’s really one of the main points in this situation. The royalist propaganda machine has falsely built a reputation for the king that has some – including many foreigners – believe that the country is doomed without this so-called great man. So that’s why the stock market gets jittery. If he’s gone, the sky falls for Thailand.

But what about the claims that the rumors are a political or financial plot? Having read The Nation for many years, these claims can only mean one or two things for the jingositic yellow shirts at the paper. First, it is Thaksin Shinawatra and the red shirts manipulating the rumors for political gain or it is venal foreigners manipulating the stock market for profits (on this also see Or, for the Nation editorialist, it could mean venal foreigners and the nasty Thaksin working together to bring down Thailand.

On foreigners, the editorial says: “The ill-conceived source(s) [think Thaksin and his supporters] of the rumours have apparently gone so far as to plant them [note this term: the rumors are planted] in the Hong Kong and Singapore markets.”  The Nation seems surprized that it’s “office received several phone calls on Wednesday. One call was from Hong Kong, where investors were trying to inquire about the monarch’s health. Another call came from Singapore, again inquiring about the King’s condition.” Why should it be surprised? It doesn’t say when these calls came, but, its weird reporting of “rumors” would encourage foreigners to make such calls.

Then the editorialist gets to its main point. In Sopon-like breathlessness, it is declared: “The rumours were designed to create panic and speculation on Thailand’s politics.” The editorial continues: “The political situation indeed remains divisive, with Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva trying to hang on to his job. There is growing conflict over how the constitution should be reformed. Red-shirt protesters have been trying to rock the boat again, while the government has threatened to invoke the Internal Security Act to subdue protesters at the upcoming Asean Summit in Hua Hin.” If the reader hadn’t got it already, the linking here is an accusation against the red shirts. As an aside, PPT has commented on the use of the ISA elsewhere and has seen no evidence of any red shirt leader calling for demonstrations in Hua Hin.

But The Nation finishes upbeat, again condemning rumor mongers, but confidently claiming that the king is “now recovering at a pace that is natural for his age, and he certainly will be able to resume functions and his role sooner rather than later. There is nothing more to this fact.”  And, it sends “best wishes to the beloved monarch.”

Maybe, but The Nation should be asked: what evidence does it have for this editorial that makes accusations about a political motive in the rumors? PPT has seen none so far. In other words, The Nation, as it has done previously, is making up rumors and spreading them itself. The Nation deserves condemnation for such “journalism.”

Update: The Nation (16 October 2009: “Thai market rebounds 3.52%”) also reports that Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has ordered an investigation of the rumors. Somewhat belatedly, Abhisit has urged “investors not to be swayed by rumours.” He also “instructed the investigation into the rumours on His Majesty the King’s health condition which plunged the stock exchange in the past two days…”. He said that there would be an investigation to see if “the rumours violated the securities and exchange law.” He added that “the investigation result would show if the rumours were floated on political purposes.”

It seems that either Abhisit believes The Nation, is listening to other rumors or The Nation is parroting the Democrats.How many investigation balls can Abhisit keep in the air?

PPT suggests that the Democrat Party  might ask around in its own party. Not only does the Party have plenty of members who know the stock market very well but PPT actually heard the first “near death” rumor from sources (that must remain anonymous – yes, we are sounding like The Nation) in the Democrat Party. That was more than two weeks ago.



6 responses

17 10 2009
ข่าวลือเรื่องพระพลานามัยของกษัตริย์ ถูกหาว่าเป็นแผนทางการเมือง « Liberal Thai

[…] The king’s health rumors are allegedly a political plot October 16, 2009 ที่มา – Political Prisoners in Thailand แปลและเรียบเรียง – แชพเตอร์ […]

18 10 2009
Global Voices Online » Thailand: The King’s health and politics

[…] about the alleged deteriorating health of Thailand King Bhumibol Adulyadej are said to be part of a political plot to destabilize the country. The King is the most important and unifying political symbol of […]

19 10 2009
New: Government hunting “royal death” rumor mongers « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Government hunting “royal death” rumor mongers As PPT indicated in earlier posts (here and here), the Democrat Party-led government seems intent on making political mileage from the […]

21 10 2009
New: Bangkok Pundit, Bloomberg and rumors « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] rumors as a political witch hunt. Again, this claim that there were evil and disloyal people taking political advantage in the king’s ill-health seems to originate in ASTV/Manager and is then taken up by others in […]

11 01 2016
The king is still improving | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] While the report states that the king “has been receiving treatment at Siriraj [Hospital] since returning to the hospital from Klai Kangwon Palace in Hua Hin district, Prachuap Khiri Khan province, on May 31 last year,” he has essentially been hospitalized for most of the period since 19 September 2009. […]

11 01 2016
The king is still improving | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] While the report states that the king “has been receiving treatment at Siriraj [Hospital] since returning to the hospital from Klai Kangwon Palace in Hua Hin district, Prachuap Khiri Khan province, on May 31 last year,” he has essentially been hospitalized for most of the period since 19 September 2009. […]

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