Speculation

19 12 2014

Business site Barron’s Asia has taken an interest in the SET Index having fallen “since Thailand’s monarch Bhumibol Adulyadej cancelled the public celebration of his 87th birthday, on the advice of doctors who said he was too ill to make a public speech.” Related, it is noted that”the wife of the 62-year-old Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn was demoted to a commoner after members of her family were arrested on corruption charges.”

As the report notes, these “events set off speculation that a royal succession is in order.”

It observes: “Not surprisingly, the stock market is nervous,” and notes that military coup leader Prayuth Chan-ocha “said the sudden drop in stocks was because of ‘false rumors’.”

Interestingly, the story goes on to note that “Teneo Intelligence‘s Bob Herrera-Lim called him out on this and said market volatility was down to uncertainty over a royal succession,” quoting:

Given recent developments, such rumors may be related to the succession. Other large cap, non-energy companies dropped almost simultaneously with PTT, including retailer Big C Supercenter, which at its worst plunged 20% during the day, and food company Charoen Pokphand Foods, which dropped 13% before recovering. Telecoms stocks Advance Info Systems and True also fell. Previous instances of large stock market drops were in 2010, a year after Bhumibol was hospitalized and questions over his health suddenly increased, and in 2007 after the then military-installed government floated a draft amendment to the foreign business act that would make it more difficult for foreign investors to control domestic enterprises.

Herrera-Lim suggests that after the king dies, “The most likely scenario is that the succession will be multi-year affair, starting with a year-long tribute to King Bhumibol…”. With Prince Vajiralongkorn is considered likely to take the throne, although Herrera-Lim also has a side-bet on Sirindhorn, taking the speculation from Andrew MacGregor Marshall:

The alternative to Vajiralongkorn is … Sirindhorn, who is well-liked by Thais and would be better placed to preserve some of her father’s goodwill [sic.]. However, Thailand has never had a female monarch and Sirindhorn had previously disavowed any interest in becoming queen. A third option is the Crown Prince’s nine year old son, with Sirindhorn acting as a regent.

The article then asks about the “divorce.” Herrera-Lim’s view is:

Corruption is not uncommon among elite networks in Thailand, especially with the police, so the dismantling of Srirasmi’s network may be an effort by the prince to convince his opponents in the military and the monarchy that he is willing to take the needed steps to preserve the institution’s goodwill and, by consequence, its political power [sic.]. Srirasmi was not only unpopular but controversial, tied to the prince’s freewheeling party life.

PPT thinks some of the successionist discussion is rather too speculative. In fact, the dismissal of Srirasmi has seen considerable social media support for her. There has also been some attempt by the military dictatorship to suppress this as the junta manages succession.


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