Pavin on the “forgotten kingdom”

1 11 2022

At Asia Media International, a publication from Loyola Marymount University’s Asia Pacific Media Center, Pavin Chachavalpongpun writes of his fears for Thailand in the contemporary moment:

Thailand has become a “forgotten kingdom.” Despite a myriad of domestic troubles, ranging from the growing absolutist monarchic power, the remaining authoritarian rule, the highly politicized judiciaries, to the heightened legal harassments against pro-democracy youths, Thailand is virtually free from international pressure and sanctions.

This is largely because:

While the world is busy dealing with greater threats to the international community, including the war in Ukraine, the growing clout of Russia and the leadership question in China, Thailand is left unattended. The global spotlight is elsewhere. This could allow authoritarianism to thrive in Thailand.

The youth protesters are caught in a dilemma. Their protests had an impact, but not what they intended:

Since the outbreak of Thai protests, there has been no sign from King Vajiralongkorn of his willingness to work with democracy. Instead, Thais have witnessed the mounting absolutist power of the monarchy….

But lately, there have been some changes within the walls of the palace. After the protests dissipated, it seemed that Vajiralongkorn has adopted a less controversial lifestyle. He now resides mostly in Thailand, refraining from commuting so frequently between Bangkok and Munich, hence reducing chances of being a target of German paparazzi. This includes no more riding a bicycle in a tiny tank top. He also appears in public only with his queen, Suthida, rather than flaunting the threesome relationship involving the second wife, Royal Noble Consort Sineenat. Indeed, Sineenat has disappeared from the public eyes, swirling up gossips that questioned her wellbeing and whereabouts. [is she back?]

Because there have been no new issues concerning the king, it will be difficult to call for another round of protests. Even if a protest could be organised, the protesters might have to revisit their demands for royal reforms proposed two years ago. Whether the public would continue to support the old demands is a challenge for the entire youth movement….

Thailand is trapped in stagnation…

 


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