Chavalit’s backhanded critique of the monarchy

22 04 2010

In The Nation (23 April 2010), if Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, chairman of the Puea Thai Party, is quoted accurately, it seems that he has criticized the monarchy.

Earlier, Chavalit had requested an audience with the king in order to seek ways out of the current political crisis. He wanted the king to prevent the use of force against red shirts. In responding to the attacks on him as dragging the monarchy into politics, Chavalit has apparently listed 9 reasons why the “monarchy is not above and beyond politics…”. This is worth citing in detail:

– Under the principles of international law, a monarch represents the country’s sovereignty. In Thailand, the monarchy is the oldest and most powerful pillar of society, while the King exercises his discretion for royal initiatives and royal rulings in accordance with royal traditions.

– During the period of modernisation, Kings Rama IV, V, VI and VII safeguarded the country’s independence in the face of colonisation. The monarchy nearly succeeded in introducing democracy but was interrupted by the 1932 revolution, resulting in an incomplete transformation into genuine democracy.

– Under Article 3 of the Constitution, the King exercises sovereign power via the Parliament, Government and Judiciary. In theory and reality, the dispensation of power is within the realm of politics. Therefore the monarchy is not above and beyond politics as understood.

– In the Thai experience, the monarchy has always guided the country to overcome turbulent situations and when deemed necessary, the King has the full power to exercise royal discretion. The King’s intervention during the 1973 student uprising and the 1992 Black May incidents are examples of the monarchy’s involvement in overcoming crises.

– The monarchy has been a counter-balancing force to check the runaway power of a dictatorship, be it military or parliamentary.

– The monarchy is just, and therefore, the only viable institution to mend social divisions.

– When the Democrat Party called for a royally bestowed government, His Majesty countered that the Constitution did not allow him to intervene in the formation of a government. Similarly, critics should not give him flak for seeking an audience with His Majesty until the monarch himself speaks on the subject.

– It is a long-established tradition that the monarchy will accept and review all petitions filed by citizens. Therefore, it is inappropriate to try and prevent a Thai citizen from having access to their King.

-The main reason for seeking an audience with His Majesty is concern over bloodshed. Under the government’s order, about five to six soldiers lost their lives and more than 800 Thai citizens were injured. Yet the government appears undeterred by the casualties.

Now a lot of this is the usual royalist tripe, but making a case for the monarchy’s already active and long-established involvement in politics is going to raise royalist and palace hackles. Lese majeste perhaps?

PPT would add plenty, less royalist, reasons to the list: protecting their wealth, paternalism, reciprocal back-scratching between the army and the king, and so on.



One response

17 05 2010

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