The state of politics

18 10 2019

There are a couple of assessments worth reading together. We have been able to access both, so we figure others can too and that there’s no need to reproduce in full.

The first is “Why the Thai King’s Power Grab Could Backfire,” by Joshua Kurlantzick of the Council on Foreign Relations. Referring to the fake emergency decree, the author states:

The decree claims the change was made necessary by an emergency, but there is no obvious emergency that justifies such a decision.

In reality, taking personal control of the military units is just the latest move by King Maha Vajiralongkorn to expand his influence over Thailand’s politics, military affairs and economy since ascending to the throne in late 2016…. Vajiralongkorn seems intent on pushing the country further away from a constitutional monarchy as well, but in another direction altogether: closer to an absolute monarchy.

From Ugly Thailand

Some of the rest of the article we do not agree with, including its wishful thinking. Frankly, we do not see this relationship between a cocky, dominant and obsessive king and the seemingly supine military coming undone any time soon. Hopefully we are wrong. This is the conclusion to the article:

Ultimately, the king’s power grab might hurt the long-term viability of the monarchy. Although lese majeste laws outlaw public criticism, Thais are generally well aware of Vajiralongkorn’s past and present conduct. There is little evidence he has boosted his popularity as king. His maneuvering is making enemies among business, military and political elites, in addition to quiet republicans who already distrusted the monarchy. Meanwhile, disempowering advisers, like the Privy Council, and assuming more control over both politics and the economy removes any plausible deniability for the king in the event of failure.

By operating in the shadows, the king’s father wielded significant power but allowed the blame for Thailand’s problems to fall on others. Vajiralongkorn may have squandered that option.

The second story is The Economist’s Banyan writing on Gen Apirat Kongsompong demonstrating his loyalty to the king. Again, the relationship between supine military bosses and the powerful king is a feature.

Read them and weep for Thailand.


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