Times have changed

21 09 2020

Veera Prateepchaikul is a former editor of the Bangkok Post and his most recent op-ed is a remarkable reflection of how times have changed.

Previously a rabid anti-Thaksinista and supportive of most yellow shirt causes, he seems to have reached a crossroads. We gather that this might be reflective of a broader trend.

He lauds the protesters, government and police, all of whom he says have “shown extraordinary patience in avoiding hostile confrontations…”. Putting them in a different camp from those he hated in the past, Veera says, “Frankly, I admire their iron will, honesty and aspirations for true democracy.”

Veera reckons some of the “speakers were provocative” on the monarchy, but considers the 10 demands for reform of the monarchy quite reasonable, even if “easier said than done because of the fierce opposition from hardcore royalists.”

Royal Household Bureau via Khaosod

He reckons the protesters “can claim credit for opening the lid on the subject of monarchy, which has been a taboo for most Thais for decades.” And, he considers that “[m]ore Thais … will be emboldened to discuss the issue more openly, if not publicly.”

As The Economist stated recently:

Challenging the cult of the monarchy breaks a taboo. But the 68-year-old king is widely (if quietly) reviled as extravagant, capricious and cruel. He has seized control of vast royal assets and meddled in political and military appointments. He usually isn’t even in Thailand but in Germany, where he has a floor at an upscale hotel near Munich. He shuttles to his queen in Switzerland in one of the Boeing 737s at his disposal. Though he once threw a consort, a nurse turned military pilot, into prison, he has recently rehabilited her, Europe’s tabloid press reports, to serve in his harem of “sex soldiers”. No word of sympathy has crossed the king’s lips over his subjects’ hardship during the pandemic.

So while diehard royalists may find the students provocative, it seems they reflect a broader unease with the king.

Veera seems in this camp, stating: “after reading the students’ 10-point manifesto carefully with an open mind, I personally found several of them to be reasonable.”

He seems to consider the king to have demonstrated that he is unreasonable and the self-censorship practiced in Thailand is not preventing people from knowing what’s happening:

Social media has given many people access to materials about the monarchy which had not been previously available through Thailand’s mainstream media outlets…. This is the reason why some Thais who used to revere the high institution have decided to switch camps.

He concludes: “For the good of this country and its people, the old establishment better heed the aspirations of our youth.”

How things have changed!


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28 09 2020
Sharp right turn | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] a week ago, PPT posted on an op-ed by rabid anti-Thaksinista and supporter of everything yellow, Veera Prateepchaikul […]

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