Updated: Fear, power, absolutism

1 10 2019

Is King Vajiralongkorn under threat? Based on his latest aggregation of power to himself, it seems the king feels threatened. Exactly why or how is unclear.

We make this observation based on the latest royal proclamation, dated 19 September and issued yesterday.

Self-crowned

This is another proclamation that moves command of Army units to the king, in this case, the 1st and 11th Infantry Regiments which are now officially transferred to the palace.

In neo-feudal Thailand, it is perhaps no longer remarkable that the king grasps wealth and power ever closer, but the announcement appears to claim constitutionality in Section 172 of the junta’s constitution. That section states:

For the purpose of maintaining national or public safety or national economic security, or averting public calamity, the King may issue an Emergency Decree which shall have force as an Act.

The issuance of an Emergency Decree under paragraph one shall be made only when the Council of Ministers is of the opinion that it is an emergency of necessity and urgency which is unavoidable.

In the subsequent sitting of the National Assembly, the Council of Ministers shall submit the Emergency Decree to the National Assembly for its consideration without delay….

In an explanation attached to the royal proclamation, countersigned by Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, it is stated (roughly translated) that the reason for the promulgation of the Royal Decree is that the units involved have given security to the King and royal family and so these these units need to be ready in all aspects to perform duties efficiently, neatly, rapidly and with maximum security. This transfer of Army personnel and some budget from the 1st Infantry Regiment and the 11th Infantry Regiment is to ensure the safety of the King, the Queen, the Heir, the royal family and the king’s representatives including conducting all missions according to royal command and according to the royal tradition, in a timely manner and providing the highest security. This security is an emergency making it inevitable and urgent that, in order to maintain national security, that this proclamation has been issued.

What is the fear? Or is it that the monarch wants all political and economic power aggregated to his person? Is it to be an absolutist state?

Update: Khaosod has reported these transfers of power to the king. It notes the unusual nature of the proclamation:

The royal decree was enacted without going through the usual parliament channel due to unspecified “emergency” circumstances. It effectively separated the 1st and 11th Infantry Regiments from the military chain of command and handed them over to King Vajiralongkorn’s control….

The decree said the urgency of the move was necessary to provide better security to the Royal Family, royal residences, and VIP guests visiting on the monarch’s invitation.

It seems the Army no longer has much independence of the monarch. That’s exceptionally dangerous for Thailand.


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3 responses

8 10 2019
More royal gorging on property? | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] taking what he wants when he wants. The Army, kowtowing to the king, is losing property and even regiments to the […]

10 10 2019
1931 moves closer | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] for his and his family’s “protection.” Most recently, this has involved the illegal use of emergency powers in the […]

17 10 2019
Can the king’s fake emergency be questioned? | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Not that long ago, the king, approved by The Dictator, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, issued a decree that transferred the 1st and 11th Infantry Regiments to the palace for the king’s personal use. […]

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