Monarchy down

15 05 2020

For several years, Pavin Chachavalpongpun has been a relentless critic of the monarchy. He has another op-ed available, this time with The Washington Post.

There’s not a lot that is new in this op-ed. However, Pavin’s main point is challenging for royalists: he shows that anti-monarchism is rising and he believes that republicanism is growing.

Of course, it is difficult to judge these matters in Thailand where the media self-censors and is censored on the monarchy, the lese majeste and other repressive laws are in place and where the monarchy enjoys support from related institutions like the military, bureaucracy and judiciary. It is recent social media activism and protests against the king (in Germany) that gives Pavin hope.

On lese majeste (and, presumably, other repressive laws), Pavin states:

The problem for the king is that such a law can work only as long as his subjects continue to regard the monarchy with a measure of reverence. His father, the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, could still claim to serve as a symbol of national unity. But Vajiralongkorn (officially known as King Rama X) no longer appears to enjoy such respect. Lacking any sort of comparable legitimacy, he has chosen to rule by intimidation instead. Thailand has become a kingdom of fear.

We are not sure we agree with all of this. After all, lese majeste has been a major element of political repression and intimidation for most of this century. That law had nothing to do with reverence.”

An interesting angle in the article is the argument that Vajiralongkorn now has a powerful “network”:

critics worry that the king has established an unprecedented degree of control over the military, the police and the judiciary that raises serious questions about palace accountability and the rule of law.

Under Bhumibol there was the “network monarchy.” Now we have Vajiralongkorn’s network. Will it be enough to secure the absent king’s interests and those of the ruling class? We suspect it won’t be protesters that bring down the king, but fissures in the ruling class. These will develop when the filthy rich and/or the military brass realize that Vajiralongkorn is threatening their interests.



One response

17 05 2020
Remembering the dead and disappeared | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] We have the impression that the regime and palace figured that enforced disappearances and murders would fill anti-monarchists with fear and resolve the “problem.” Apparently not. […]

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