Good king, bad king

12 05 2020

With King Vajiralongkorn missing, hiding out in his preferred Germany with a bunch of concubines and his queen in Switzerland, he’s been getting plenty of criticism. Of course, Vajiralongkorn has long been considered a “bad boy,” once describing himself as a “black sheep” in the royal family.

One of his strategies and that of palace image manipulators has been to link Vajiralongkorn to his dead father, King Bhumibol. After decades of palace propaganda, Bhumibol’s reputation was made as a “good king.” His dark side is neglected or hidden: as a supporter of authoritarian military regimes and rightist leaders, his continual interference in politics, his immense wealth, and his support of fascist and other murderous royalist groups.

Armed: Vajiralongkorn, military dictator, Bhumibol

The military-backed regime seems to think that the way to make Vajiralongkorn look better is to further promote Bhumibol.

Khaosod reports that 4 December will now be celebrated as “National Unity Day.” That’s a non-holiday, the day before the dead Bhumibol’s birthday, which is still “celebrated” and a holiday.

The regime wants “to remind Thais of the importance to have unity the day before King Bhumibol’s birthday…”. It seems Vajiralongkorn’s image is so bad that he can’t be “mobilized” as a symbol of “unity.” Emphasizing the point, a regime spokesperson stated: “It is to honor His Majesty the King and continue his legacy of a king who cared for his people…”. The unspoken comparison is loud.

But why 4 December? Apparently, it was the dead king’s birthday speech in 1991 that has been chosen because he called on “people” to “value knowledge, love and unity…”. As far as PPT can recall, Bhumibol made the same call over many decades. The 1991 speech followed a military coup, a military-authored/tutored constitution and a military-backed and unelected government.

No one seemed to take much notice as political conflict increased into 1992.


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