Updated: King and coup I

24 05 2014

As is widely known, about the only successful coups the king has opposed during his 68 year reign were those in the early years implemented by the remnants of the 1932 revolutionists, which blocked royalist political gains, and the 1977 coup led General Kriangsak Chomanan, which threw out the king’s chosen premier, privy council member and extreme rightist, Thanin Kraivixien.

King and junta

Meeting and endorsing the junta in 2006

The 2006 palace-military coup became a public relations disaster for the monarchy when it was crystal clear that palace flunkies like Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda had been actively engaged in planning the coup, and the king and queen quickly endorsed the illegal military intervention.

That PR/political error, born of the palace’s support for the coup, as revealed in Wikileaks cables, led to the deeper politicization of the monarchy and contributed to the ongoing political struggle and series of crises in Thailand.

So it is that the monarchy has been quieter this time. In the past, though, royal endorsement of a coup was usually sought in advance from the palace, and then an official endorsement was also forthcoming immediately after the coup.

2014 coup leader and junta chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha is a dedicated monarchist and defender of the monarchy. That fact and the history of military coups makes it very difficult to believe that his coup did not have palace endorsement prior to the putsch. There are other perspectives. With no source, discussion or evidence for his claim, Serhat Ünaldi says: “Whereas the coup-makers in 2006 had the king’s backing, the soldiers behind the most recent military intervention did not seek royal legitimation of their actions.” That said, Prayuth himself has been reported as stating that “the king was not involved.” PPT would normally take such an unsolicited denial as an admission of involvement.

Interestingly, the junta’s 11th announcement “states that the constitution, except Chapter 2 which relates to the monarchy, is abrogated.” So the only basic/foundational law that now applies in Thailand deals only with the monarchy, succession, privy council and regents.

Given the outcomes of the 2006 endorsement, getting public royal endorsement this time is being handled more carefully by the junta. The Bangkok Post notes this, reporting:

Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha has already informed His Majesty the King about the seizure of the ruling power, the coup leader told a meeting on Friday.

A letter has been sent to Office of His Majesty Principal Private Secretary so there is no longer the need to seek audience with His Majesty, he reportedly said.

This would eliminate the fear that the palace would be dragged into the conflict, he said.

In past coups, shortly after the coup makers successfully staged the putsches, they customarily sought an audience with the King in televised broadcasts.

 As we were writing this post, Ratchaprasong News, usually reliable, posted that “Prayuth went to Hua Hin last night, royal decree for a new cabinet was signed, all military men cabinet. Most likely will be announced at Army’s press conference today.”

Update: Prachatai notes that the Office of His Majesty’s Principal Private Secretary, has acknowledged receipt of letters dated 20 May and 22 May, which purport to provide “updates on the situation resulting from the coup, and specifying that the King has received the letter.”



One response

17 10 2014
Prem and The Dictator | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] at PPT didn’t understand these claims. After all, the coup was by and for royalists. In addition, Prem’s old buddies were intimately involved in politicking for a coup, pressing […]

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