Is the monarchy really the most important and nation-defining element of a supposedly modern Thailand? It certainly seems that the Army brass has defined their world in terms of the monarchy. For the military, nothing else seems to matter. Forget the things most of the world’s professional armed forces consider relevant and important.
That seems to be the story from a new Thai-language book, Lab Luang Prang V, by the Bangkok Post’s military affairs reporter Wassana Nanuam, reviewed in her newspaper. The review states that Wassana’s new book:
… again stirs the local political pot and while she doesn’t actually come out and state in so many words that another coup is in the making, one can read between the lines when she explains that the army _ and its present leader, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha _ “has to prepare” for any movement _ she could be referring to the red-shirt camp or left-leaning intellectuals or some other group _ that might try to undermine the monarchy.
In the book, Wassana apparently:
… lists various scenarios which might pitch the army against the present government: a reshuffle of high-ranking army officers to flush out and sideline monarchists is one she discusses; another is an excessively zealous public campaign to revise Section 112 of the Criminal Code (which outlaws lese-majeste).
In other words, there is not even a shaky pretense that the current Army leadership is an apolitical and professional. It seems that the Army is incapable of anything other than “protecting” the monarchy by coups, orchestrating the installation of royalist governments and gunning down oppositions.
The reviewer observes that Wassana sounds “at times a bit like Mario Puzo in one of his Mafia novels…”. There is much to this as the Army is a mafia-like organization with links to the underworld. Like the monarchy’s mafia,
Wassana gives a lively account of the two major factions within the army at present. The dominant Burapha Payak clique, which includes army chief Prayuth, is so close to the monarchy that members are often referred to as taharn sua Phra Rajini (soldiers of HM the Queen). Its influence currently eclipses that of Wong Thewan, a faction comprising scions of ultra-elite families, which once controlled the army.
In fact, it makes little difference whether it is the current mafia or the previous mafia clique, in practice, they tend to operate in pretty much the same manner.
As an illustration, Wassana apparently offers an insight on the death of senior soldiers in April 2010 as they fired on red shirts. Her claim is that the shooting “by mysterious men dressed in black … was the result of a personal vendetta by an unspecified force of militants against Burapha Payak.” In other words, she is suggesting internal Army conflicts led to military-on-military fighting.
As startling as this “inside view” is, according to the review, the “highlight of the book are the hints about a possible coup.”
Wassana apparently reveals the significance for the Army of the floods in 2011. Readers may recall that the Army was slow to move on floods, and when it did, it appeared to be driven by the PR need to rebuild its image after the bloody crackdown on the red shirts in 2010. Wassana believes it was more than this, for it was preparing support for military political interventions. In terms of a “hypothetical putsch the army will make use of logistics it developed and connections it forged with various communities last year when troops were deployed to assist victims of the devastating floods.”
It becomes clear why the military politicized flood relief as they prepare for a possible coup.
Wassana is said to be disdainful of “coup-makers who, she says, may win the battle, but will lose the war.” She thinks a coup could bring the end of the monarchy. That makes sense, but Wassana is also able to be as mad as a hatter. In predicting red shirt opposition to any coup, she apparently
devotes a whole chapter, entitled ‘Red America’, to claims that the United States is giving support to those who are seeking to revise Section 112. This move is supposedly part of a geopolitical strategy to reclaim US dominance over our region and offset the increasing influence exerted by China.
Frankly, this is absolute nonsense. Anyone familiar with U.S. policy would know that such a claim has no evidence to back it. Rather, Wassana appears to be drawing on bizarre conspiracy theories that have emerged from a small and extreme group from the libertarian U.S. right-wing. This group constructs conspiracies based on a selective use of “facts,” and has been strongly taken up by equally loopy conspiricists amongst ultra-royalists.
Wassana is not the only one to believe fairy tales. A chapter of the book tells readers that
a soothsayer has told army commander-in-chief Prayuth that he is the reincarnation of a warrior who served the 16th-century King Naresuan the Great and that he has been reborn for the express purpose of saving our nation. dedicated to superstitious beliefs and predictions.
If that is true, the Army is led by a person who probably thinks vampire movies are documentaries. But, then, some would say that the army is full of blood suckers and other devils.