Political test for a constitutional monarch?

24 12 2012

As we noted in a previous post, the Ministry of Defense has sacked Abhisit Vejjajiva, backdated to his sweet deal with the Army teaching at a military academy, allegedly for using faked documents in gaining his position. That decision has not been without debate.Abhisit

The Bangkok Post reports that it gets a little more complicated because Abhisit may have “been discharged from the military, but stripping him of his rank requires royal approval, Defence Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat said on Monday…. The decision to take his rank away from him needs royal approval and must be published in the Royal Gazette before it is effective.”

In a constitutional monarchy, this should be a rather simple process, with the king signing off on a government decision. However, in Thailand, where the king exercises considerable political authority, there have been cases where the king has refused. This has usually been in support of political allies or to needle an elected government he found distasteful. A recent case began in late 2005, when a political campaign to keep the oddball but anti-Thaksin Shinawatra Attorney-General Jaruvan Maintaka in her position unrolled. Despite the lack of a legal foundation for her staying on, her claim, not apparently disputed by the palace, was that she was appointed by royal decree and only the king could dismiss her. He didn’t.

The Abhisit case represents another case where the king may again act politically.


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