Monarchy and Bhum Jai Thai Party

21 04 2011

In The Nation, as the Election Commission readies a “new rule banning mention of the monarchy in any way during election campaigning,” claiming any mention of the monarchy is “improper,” it worries that “political parties were increasingly taking advantage of the monarchy for their political benefit.”

Responding to this governing coalition partner Bhum Jai Thai Party proclaimed that it wanted to be able to campaign to “protect the monarchy.”

With Bhum Jai Thai leader and Minister of Interior Chaovarat Chanweerakul defended the “party’s policy of defending the monarchy and denied it was trying to cite the institution for political advantage.” He asked: “I wonder why it is now improper to defend the monarchy. Since when was defending tantamount to insulting?” Just more of the double standards that define the years since the 2006 coup.

More significantly, the question has been asked whether the party’s printing and distribution of 1.5 million photos of the king was somehow inappropriate ore amounted to a political use of the monarchy. On this, PPT previously posted:

In the [a recent] story, Newin takes up the loyalty challenge and with his party is setting off around the country to dish out photos of the king. There are 1.5 million being given away. Don’t all Thai households already have them? That’s the usual propaganda.

In any case, Newin has emphasized his party’s “My Family Loves the King” project. This is meant “to help the Thais who cannot themselves come to pay homage to the King at Siriraj Hospital for various reasons.  So the party is bringing the photos along with books for them to sign, and will return the books to the Bureau of the Royal Household to honour the King.”

Bhum Jai Thai responded to criticism by producing “a document from the Royal Household Bureau to reject an allegation that the party had His Majesty the King’s pictures published without permission.” The letter, “signed by Royal Household Bureau deputy secretary Dissadhorn Vajarothai, said Bhum Jai Thai could publish and distribute 1 million copies of the King’s photo for distribution…”. The Bureau added that this was approved because “that picture attached in the letter seeking permission has been widely available”.

A spokesman claimed: “Bhum Jai Thai does not want this matter to be politicised,…” and added, “The party has never tried to draw the monarchy into politics…”.

Perhaps the real question is why the Royal Household Bureau – if it really wants to be seen as “above politics” – allowed a political party to use the king’s photo in political campaigning? Any claim that this was not campaigning carries no weight in the context of Thailand’s recent politics.


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