So deep has become the political malaise in Thailand that many are wondering what the military junta thinks it is doing. No one seems to understand the bizarre behavior exhibited by the regime. Is it worried about political opposition, the death of the king and succession, face, all of these? Is it a case of a leadership suffering political insanity? Is the regime simply incompetent, populated by loyalists with no ability or capacity? Is it something else?
Jonathan Head at the BBC attempts to explain things to an outside audience, but it is admittedly very difficult to explain the extraordinary events taking place in the country. Some of the commentary:
The [Corruption Park] project has been tarnished by allegations of corruption – a scourge General Prayuth [Chan-ocha] promised to tackle when he seized power last year.
Other government-backed ventures intended to showcase support for the monarchy have been similarly tainted. Not just by allegations of mismanaged funds, but also by the mysterious deaths in custody, or disappearances, of people who had been close to Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn.
A straight forward statement:
The officially-sanctioned view of the monarchy is that it is loved and respected by all Thais, who support the law.
In fact, there are Thais who take a different view, but who do not dare to express it publicly.
… [T]he military set about trying to burnish the public image of Prince Vajiralongkorn, in preparation for him to succeed the ailing King Bhumibol.
The lese majeste law makes it impossible for anyone in Thailand to speak frankly about members of the royal family. The commonly-used way to describe the comparison between the heir and the King is that “he does not enjoy the same popularity as his father.”
The number of people charged or jailed under the junta for alleged lese majeste is said to be more than 100.
The video interview with Major General Werachon Sukondhapatipak is remarkably revealing of a regime that appears to have become entirely focused on repression.
The report states, and we have to agree: “Few people outside the top ranks of the military can know what lies behind these disturbing developments.” It is added:
Many people in Thailand believe the revelations indicate divisions at the top over how to handle the royal succession, and crucially, who has control over this historic transition.
Is the king dead or about to be allowed to die?