Royal shush

25 09 2011

That’s the headline for Simon Roughneen’s most recent story at the Christian Science Monitor on lese majeste. He cites Chiranuch Premchaiporn who reportedly stated “that the coup changed the debate on the online forum she moderates, ‘people became more aggressive and anti-military, while before they were more against Thaksin’.”

Nirmal Ghosh also has a story worth reading at the Jakarta Globe. Amongst many points in his assessment of post-coup events, he states:

Anti-monarchy sentiment began surfacing, mostly on the Internet. When the conservative and military-backed Democrat Party government came to power in a parliamentary vote in late 2008, it said growing anti-monarchy sentiment was a threat to national security.

The coup sparked more, not less, talk of the role of the monarchy in Thailand – though still not in public or in the media.

What he doesn’t say is that anti-monarchy sentiment had long existed but had been repressed, through the lese majeste law and intense propaganda, backed heavily by the military and an elite that decided to hitch its future to a royalist-capitalist alliance. What the coup did was lay bare the alliance and some breaks from the alliance, opened by the 1997 economic crisis. Behind the coup was the unleashing of political forces long repressed – and that was Thaksin Shinawatra’s “crime” in the eyes of the elite.

Ghosh concludes: “Beneath the seeming normalcy of the post-election landscape, there remains great unease in the kingdom.” That’s true.


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