Not above politics

22 10 2015

One of the mantras of the military dictatorship and the broader royalist coalition is that the monarchy is “above politics.” This notion that the monarchy is “above politics” has been a part of the royalist claims about scurrilous lese majeste claims and charges. “Protecting” the monarchy – a decidedly politicized process – involves claims that this maintains the monarchy’s position “above politics.”

Everyone knows this is horse manure tarted up as palace propaganda. Yet it is a powerful narrative that has underpinned the monarchy’s political role and its more intense politicization since about 2001.

The most recent example of palace political interference is in the Bangkok Post. The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, has stated that it “will be up to the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) to decide if the new draft charter should ban for life politicians found guilty of corruption and strip them of their electoral rights…”.

Prayuth “was responding on Tuesday to a question involving a proposal by Privy Council member and former premier Tanin Kraivixien who recently sent a letter to Gen Prayut offering suggestions about reforms on several issues including corruption.”

Thanin has never been “above politics” and neither have his mates in the Privy Council. Thanin has dived in, boots and all, seeking to ban pro-Thaksin Shinawatra politicians from all politics for life.

He makes this clear in his letter to The Dictator. Thanin’s view – and probably the view of the broader palace – is that “the fight against corruption has been a failure because politicians who are barred from politics for five years are allowed to return.” In case readers are still unconvinced that Thanin is playing politics, he makes one more demand: “that changes be made to extradition laws to enable the state to seize assets of corrupt politicians even if they are stashed abroad.”

We are unsure how extradition and grabbing funds overseas are related, but Thanin is clearly making a politicized claim.

As a “loyal servant,” Prayuth has sent Thanin’s “suggestions” to the royalist Meechai Ruchupan for the CDC to consider.