TIME’s dictator of the year II

26 06 2018

Khaosod reports that the TIME edition featuring The Dictator will not be distributed or sold in Thailand.

As we stated earlier, we felt it was a story that Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha will like because it promotes him as a strong leader, now and into the future.

Indeed, “a top government spokesman held up Prayuth’s Time interview as a sign the world was warming to the retired general as he embarked on a tour of European capitals.”

However, there seems to be elements of the story that seem to be a problem. Some in the regime seem to say that the description of The Dictator as a “little Sarit” somehow inappropriate. But that seems an unlikely reason for a ban on the magazine.

That the article says Prayuth was seen talking to a frog has not come up as something causing a ban.

Based on the fear expressed by the magazine’s local distributors, it seems that very brief comments on coronation and the monarchy may be the issue.

One is reported as stating:

We were informed by the distributor from abroad … that it may contain inappropriate content. Some text may need to be censored, meaning we’d have to cover some parts, so we decided it’s better not to sell it.

Exactly which content was considered inappropriate was not disclosed.

Another distributor dded no more information, stating, “Please excuse us for not clarifying.”

Khaosod states that the article “contains one sentence describing King Rama X in general terms. It cannot be reproduced here [in Khaosod] for fear of violating the draconian lese majeste law…”.

In the article, there are references to the monarchy:

The royal family is treated with almost divine reverence in Thailand [PPT: not by all]. Prayuth strengthened ties with the royal household and earned himself the nickname Little Sarit, after Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat, who seized power through a putsch in 1957 and helped raise the monarchy to its paramount role in Thai society. Today every [PPT: not all] Thai household displays a portrait of the monarch as the highest picture in the room. And the country boasts some of the world’s strictest royal defamation laws, which are increasingly being used to crush dissent.

Many believe Prayuth’s coup was meant to ensure that Thailand’s elites remained in control during a sensitive time of royal succession. Thailand’s new King, Maha Vajiralongkorn, leads an unconventional lifestyle and does not command the same respect that his father did.

The latter statement has become a media mantra, so hardly seems controversial. Another paragraph includes this:

For more than a decade, Thailand has been wracked with color-coded street protests between the typically rural supporters of Yingluck and her brother Thaksin–who served as Prime Minister from 2001 to 2006–and their mainly urban opponents, backed by the powerful royal palace, military and judiciary. The pro-Yingluck faction wear red. Their opponents wear yellow.

Perhaps the claim of palace support to the yellow shirts is the issue? Whatever the particular statement on the monarchy that has created fear and a ban, it is clear that any commentary on the monarchy that is not laudatory is now more or less banned.

TIME’s dictator of the year I

23 06 2018

TIME magazine has a long story on The Dictator and his politics. We won’t repeat it here as the story is widely available.

Also, we think it is a story that Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha will like as it promotes him as a strong leader, now and into the future. Sure it says some things that many will interpret as negatives, but The Dictator occupies a different headspace and will read one reader’s negatives as his positives.

That some claim he will appear on TIME’s cover will have him puffing his chest as well. We don’t know if this is true, and it may be that there are multiple TIME covers for different regions. CNN has been reporting that the next TIME cover features Donald Trump and a child, reflecting America’s immigration crisis.

TIME does say that “General Prayuth Chan-ocha appears at ease among the lavish trappings of politics…”. Well, that’s well-known.

It does say that Thais have been waiting for long-delayed elections. That’s also well known. And Prayuth has long said that only he can decide when his junta will allow and “election.”

It also says that “[m]any … fear that under Prayuth’s watch [Thailand]… is undergoing a permanent authoritarian regression.” We doubt that anything is permanent, but its hardly a secret that Prayuth’s junta has sought to wind back the political clock and intends this to be permanent or at least a total of 25 years.

And it cites some opponents. Their views are pretty well known.

But none of this is criticism that The Dictator hasn’t seen off for more than four years and some of it perversely builds Prayuth’s preferred “tough guy” image.

That image-building reshapes Prayuth’s military career as a tough guy rather than a polisher of royal posteriors. The article claims that there was no “opulence” in Prayuth’s military career. TIME seems to have neglected how the Thai Army actually operates, where commanders are treated like kings, have personal slaves by the dozen and live in rather nice houses, have chauffeured cars and nice little earners on boards of state enterprises. It also neglects how wealthy Thailand’s military leaders are.

It paints him as a man who sacrificed for the country: “When people are in trouble, we, the soldiers, are there for them…”. That will have Prayuth all puffed up and happy for it justifies corruption, coups and murderous attacks on the “people.”

It says he’s a hero, winning “the Ramathipodi medal, the country’s top honor for gallantry in the field.” We had never heard of this before, but we also don’t know about this stuff, but there’s a related discussion from a while ago at Thai Visa. That set of threads seems to suggest that this TIME information is either new, a story concocted by The Dictator’s PR or an error.

Not just a brave man, but a selfless servant of nation and monarchy: “I told myself that I had to dedicate my life for my homeland and the monarchy.” Prayuth’s PR staff must be over the moon.

It compares Prayuth with another strongman, Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat. Again, Prayuth will love this. For another comparison with Sarit, see this exchange.

We could go on. But the theme is clear. TIME has done the junta’s work. It often did the same during the Cold War, but that’s another sad tale.

Thailand’s Democrat Party Is Hilariously Misnamed

28 11 2013

That’s TIME magazine’s headline not PPT’s. PPT might have changed “hilariously” to “dangerously.” For a long time now, PPT has refused to use the word “Democrats” as a way of describing the Democrat Party and we have even referred to the DemoPAD and PADocrat Party ins some posts. The point has been, as TIME now notes, that there is nothing democratic about the Democrat Party or its leadership.

The article notes that:

On Tuesday, protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, a former Democrat Party Deputy Prime Minister, repeated his call for a “people’s revolution” to replace the elected Yingluck administration with a nonelected royalist council. Attempting to downplay personal ambitions, Suthep declared “before the sanctity of Buddhism that I, Suthep Thaugsuban, will not be Prime Minister in the future.” A warrant has since been issued for his arrest for unlawfully entering government buildings.

Suthep also stated, at the Bangkok Post: “We like peaceful methods,” …. But he added, “If we don’t succeed, then I am prepared to die in the battlefield.”

Getting the strategy rightAnd, as PPT noted earlier, the Democrat Party and its leader Abhisit Vejjajiva have announced in a report at The Nation that the “party is determined to overthrow the ‘Thaksin regime’, with Abhisit affirming his craving for power: “If it leads us to win the battle, we won’t hesitate [to resign from parliament] with unity…” to join the street battle. Abhisit and the Democrat Party used to talk of rule of law and claim all kinds of democratic principles. But as TIME notes:

It’s just that when it comes to Thai democracy, the ironically named Democrat Party is among the worst practitioners. Tens of thousands of Yellow Shirts are marching across the country, but demanding the establishment of royalist councils is hardly a people’s revolution. If anyone has been exercising people power, it’s the 15 million voters who elected Yingluck and her Pheu Thai party in July 2011. Thaksin-backed political parties have won the previous five elections with significant majorities, and Thaksin’s own populist policies helped bring millions of rural poor out of poverty. He remains the kingdom’s most popular Prime Minister since the abolition of absolute monarchy in 1932.

There are, of course, plenty of reasons to oppose the billionaire telecom mogul: the catalog of nest-feathering business deals from his time in office left few in any doubt of his lack of scruples, while his 2003 “war on drugs” involved some 2,800 extrajudicial killings. The image of him directing demonstrations from his lavish Dubai haven, while his Red Shirt supporters risk arrest, violence and occasionally their lives, is hardly a heroic one. But the opposition’s failure to exploit these weaknesses is astonishing.

TIME’s account then flounders on facts and its use of dubious commentators.

It says that the “Democrat Party last won a majority in 1992.” This is a serious error. There were two elections in 1992. In the first election in March, the party did not even win the most seats in the election. In the second, in September, the party did win the most seats. It won 79 of the 360 seats. It is only pro-Thaksin parties that have ever won majorities in the Thai parliament.

TIME also says the power base of the Democrat Party “is the Bangkok bourgeoisie,” and quotes Cornell University Professor Benedict Anderson in describing it as: “timid, selfish, uncultured, consumerist and without any decent vision of the future of the country…”. But this gives the Democrat Party too little credit. It’s party machine in the south is well-organized amongst a population that is relatively well-off in Thailand, but they are not the bourgeoisie. It also neglects the fact that many of the Bangkok protesters are relatively recent, often Sino-Thai entrants to the middle class who resent and fear pro-Thaksin government policies that are redistributive.Fear easily breeds hatred of Thaksin and of those who support him.

TIME thinks that the “Yellow Shirts’ seizure of government buildings has also backfired.” To back this up the article turns to a tainted source on Thai politics, Benjamin Zawacki, now said to be a senior legal adviser for Southeast Asia at the International Commission of Jurists. Readers can search for our earlier posts on the lamentable Zawacki, who claims that: “Yingluck has snatched something resembling victory from the jaws of defeat,” says  adding that Suthep “has likely overplayed his hand.” TIME continues with this “source”:

Regrettably, all signs now point toward an escalation instead — and soon. Dec. 5 is the 86th birthday of now ailing King Bhumibol Adulyadej and an important holiday in Thailand. Some believe Suthep will not want to mar this occasion and so will, in Zawacki’s words, “seek escalation now in the hopes of a coup or at least a temporary declaration of martial law” before the holiday. These are thuggish politics. The Democrat Party might cling onto its name, but seeing many of its supporters swap yellow for black shirts seems strangely apt.

TIME might have made more of the story by examining the Democrat Party’s own anti-democratic statements, from its royalist beginnings to its alliance with monarchy and military in military coup and judicial coup. But it is a great headline.

TIME adrift on a stormy sea of lese majeste

7 06 2011

TIME magazine has, over several decades, been one of the international outlets that has done much to raise the profile of Thailand’s current monarch with laudatory treatments that tend to reproduce official palace positions. In this sense, it is probably a cause for some praise when the magazine produces something on lese majeste.

Robert Horn has an article that headlines that it will explain the current situation and what lies behind the spate of lese majeste charges. He doesn’t, and says little that is new. However, PPT thinks he makes some serious errors and interpretations that need to be highlighted.

Here’s one:

… few royals have commanded as much reverence at home and respect abroad as King Bhumibol, who, with 64 years on the throne, is the world’s longest-reigning monarch. Now 83 and ailing, King Bhumibol has earned genuine praise, admiration and love during the decades for over 4,000 development projects designed to help the poor, and for intervening on rare occasions to end bloodshed during civil conflicts. The monarchy, deeply entwined with the 700-year history of the Thai nation, has long been viewed as the sole unifying force in society.

Now this is straight out of the royalist playbook, and no serious journalist could make this propaganda point so blithely and with so little account given to recent history and historiography. PPT is shocked that such palace propaganda is still so easily cut-and-pasted into an important article.

Here’s another:

Government literature on Thailand will tell you that the King is above politics. No reliable information has been presented that proves otherwise. But like the monsoon-flooding waters of the Chao Phraya River — the River of Kings — that run through the country’s rice basket and down past golden spires of the old Grand Palace in Bangkok, politics have inexorably been rising to the level of the throne.

Goodness! Has all of the media commentary around the time of the coup and since been ignored or forgotten? Where would we begin…. The king is dragged down? Again, this is right out of the royalist playbook. Forget 1976, for example, forget the privy councilors made premiers, forget the tapes of palace intervention on the judiciary. Where do we stop? Horn even mentions one of the queen’s recent interventions….

Horn notes that since 2006, “the courts have seen more than 400 cases”. He then claims that one of these cases was of an “opposition political activist who called for the execution of the royal family…”. Again, this is royalist material. PPT has pages on this case, including links to the speech.

A further misrepresentation is the claim that:

Although The King Never Smiles is banned in Thailand, much of what it contains had already been written in Thai by Thai academics. They faced no censure for their work….

We think that Horn again accepts royalist nonsense as fact. If this was true, why work so hard to ban the book? Why is the book translated into Thai several times? More worrying is the lack of recognition of several cases – including Ji Ungpakorn, Sulak Sivaraksa, and many more over several years – of academics being harassed with the use of lese majeste or threats of it. What was he thinking when he wrote this?

TIME on Chiranuch

8 02 2011

TIME magazine has a story on the case and trial of Chiranuch Premchaiporn.

Such stories in big, well-known publications draw attention to serious issues in Thailand, so it disappointing to see the article begin with one tired stereotype: the “notorious red-light districts…”. PPT isn’t sure what this has to do with the story. The second sort of unrelated note is on a “high per capita murder rate…”. At least this is seldom recognized.

Like other media, TIME argues that this case “serves as a crucial test of freedom of expression in this politically troubled country.” That’s only partly true. PPT suggests that even if Chiranuch gets off – as see should; indeed, the charges should never have been laid – there are a stack of other lese majeste and computer crimes cases that would belie any change in “freedom of expression.” And, there remain a large number of red shirts locked up as political opponents. If Chiranuch gets off, Abhisit Vejjajiva’s royalist Thailand would still be a repressive state.

TIME reinforces some useful points:

Over the past few years, as Thailand has endured a revolving door of governments from two diametrically opposed political camps, the country’s media environment has suffered. In an international press-freedom index of 178 nations compiled by media watchdog Reporters Without Borders, Thailand scored a lowly 153rd place last year. It was 65th in 2002.

Media and online censorship has continued during the tenure of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, who enacted a months-long state of emergency during Thailand’s prolonged antigovernment protests last year. Hundreds of websites have been shuttered, including various versions of Prachatai’s site. Some banned sites had openly called for Abhisit’s government to step down, especially after protesters in Bangkok clashed with security forces last April and May, resulting in some 90 deaths….

Chiranuch has been accused of violating the lèse-majesté laws in addition to the Computer Crime Act. Last November, upon returning from a conference on Internet freedom in Hungary, she was arrested based on a complaint filed by a resident of northeastern Thailand, who was apparently upset by the postings on Prachatai. It took the police more than a year after receiving his complaint to arrest her. These additional charges could add 32 years to the 50 years in prison Chiranuch faces if convicted for all the alleged computer violations.

The report concludes on a pessimistic note: “If Chiranuch does end up in prison, it will undoubtedly cause an outcry among freedom-of-expression advocates worldwide…. Unfortunately, global outrage may not be much help to Chiranuch as Thailand’s high-stakes courtroom drama continues.”

Updated: Red shirts vs. army

4 09 2010

Update: A Thai/ภาษาไทย version of the Time story is here.


Time magazine’s Robert Horn has a report on the appointment of General Prayuth Chan-ocha, of the Queen’s Guard army faction, as new army chief and the response of red shirts. The article makes the point that “Prayuth’s promotion, along with the appointment of a new national police chief, consolidates power in the security forces among officers with strong royalist views.”

Many red shirts apparently view Prayuth as being similar “to past military dictators and predicting he will be tougher on dissent.” In the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime, as the article notes, the use of the emergency decree (and other security laws and measures) “has shifted power over security affairs to the hands of a council that includes the army chief, police chief and prime minister.” Horn might have added that this government’s tendency has been to increasingly authoritarian means of administration and control.

Prayuth is said to have earlier pledged to return the troops to the barracks, but on coming to power stated: “As the political situation remains critical, the armed forces must take the lead in ensuring security and order for a longer period…” (see PPT’s earlier post on the extension of security measures in Bangkok).

For red shirts, Prayuth is a known royalist opponent with strong views. Prayuth is said to have “commanded the May 19 operation to clear Bangkok of the protest camps … and had been pushing for tougher action against the Red Shirts since the protest began.”

Prayuth will remain commander for 4 years, and is seen as unlikely to take the military boot from the red shirt movement’s throat.

An interesting footnote to this story relates to the way that Time refers to Abhisit specifically as “Thailand’s elected Prime Minister” and to the king as the “constitutional monarch.” PPT suspects that this is an attempt to appease those – especially in the current government – who have criticized the foreign media. A bit of toadying to the powers that be? Both statements might be technically accurate, but it is clear that neither carries the true meaning inscribed in these positions by Abhisit’s rise to his position or of the king’s political acts.

With major update: TIME on the monarchy

8 05 2010

TIME magazine’s 17 May 2010 edition and its story on the monarchy deserves comment.

The story is somewhat odd. It begins by comparing the barely audible and repetitive recent speech to judges by an apparently physically enfeebled Thai king to that of Japan’s emperor at the end of World War 2. At the time, many outside Japan considered the emperor a war criminal.

The point of the comparison isn’t entirely clear for PPT. The author seems to make a comparison that sees a transition: “I thought of the Showa Emperor’s historic speech — and his postwar evolution into a gentle figurehead with a penchant for top hats and marine biology — when another monarch recently took to the airwaves.” Does she mean that the Thai king is to become a “figurehead” after years of domestic political struggle? Or does she see that both men were at the end of their periods of greatest political influence?

Whatever the comparison, we think Hannah Beech gets several things wrong. When she says: “Though considered above the jugular cut and thrust of Thai politics, the constitutional monarch has, on rare occasion, interceded to alleviate crises.” She writes only of a “moral authority.” This is a misrepresentation of the palace’s continuous meddling in politics and ignores the significance of the political symbolism of the monarchy. Serious journalist know this, so we assume that Beech is getting in line an avoiding the palace’s wrath.

Several prime ministers, including Chuan Leekpai, have attested to the constant need to heed those in and around the palace on all manner of political decisions, including police, military, judicial and bureaucratic promotions, development projects, security matters, and so on. The monarchy’s symbolic role has been huge, from bolstering the armed forces, supporting counterinsurgency, and anointing coup makers to ensuring that democracy is defined in royalist terms.

Beech also comes up with the now standard view that in “a 2005 speech, the King said he was not above criticism, leading some to wonder whether the lèse-majesté law might be amended. But since then, governments both yellow and red have declined to do so.”

PPT thinks this is a misrepresentation that actually provides support for the use of the law. After all, if the king really did say that he could be criticized, then it is venal others who “use” the monarchy for their own purposes. Only a day or so ago we posted on a newly-revealed lese majeste investigation that claims the direct involvement of palace officials. This is not an isolated case.

The statement that various governments have declined to amend the law is true, although it ignores the Abhisit Vejjajiva government’s ardent monarchism. It diminishes the negative impacts of the government’s stated desire to prevent all criticism of the monarchy. It ignores the fact that the current government has expanded the investigation and prosecution of lese majeste and related cases. This statement ignores massive censorship and repression situated in a discourse of the monarchy as central to “national security.”

PPT can agree that “If Thailand wants to evolve into a mature democracy … it will have to accept that relying on the counsel of one man, no matter how revered, will only stunt the nation’s development.” Academic commentary made this point more than a decade ago, arguing that the palace also needed to stop meddling or it risked its own decline as a constitutional monarchy. That suggestion seems to have been ignored. Part of the reason for that has to do with an addiction to political meddling in order to build its own political and economic ascendancy.

Tepid criticism does not make up for the hagiographical journalism associated with the past 2-3 decades of reporting the palace view.

(For details of how the palace was involved in manufacturing a positive journalism – along with the US Embassy and State Department – see PPT’s historical commentary section.)

TIME on Abhisit

27 09 2009

[Update: Some readers have suggested that we should have been harder on TIME’s coverage. PPT felt that there were far worse examples of premier posterior polishing (PPP), so didn’t highlight the “tone” as much as a couple of issues we thought underdone or ignored. For a classic piece of PPP, see the usually sensible Kavi Chongkittavorn in The Nation. Fortunately Bangkok Pundit has a riposte.]

Also available as ไทม์กับอภิสิทธิ์

TIME magazine’s 5 October 2009 issue has an article by Bangkok-based  Hannah Beech on Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva entitled “Man in the Middle”. While the article is not entirely uncritical of the Democrat Party leader, PPT notes a certain pussyfooting around on tough issues and a failure to “push” the premier when interviewed.

This could have more to do with restrictions by the prime minister’s media minders than with the journalist or her magazine. We can also see a point about “balance” in reporting. However, in this report, there is a tone of “liking the man” while failing to deal with his policies and actions in a critical way. Some examples follow.

The article states that the “international community” is welcoming the “fresh-faced Prime Minister…”. PPT hasn’t seen it. So far the visit has been low-key and there has been little substantive reporting of Abhisit in the U.S. or even in Thailand. He’s young and a light-weight with little to say that is of international significance. The Thai embassy at the U.N. and in Washington has largely arranged tame and friendly audiences for him.

Beech does suggest that “Abhisit is being accused back home of an increasing disconnect with Thais living outside the air-conditioned comfort of Bangkok. Despite a brightening economic outlook that his technocrat-filled administration is quick to take credit for, there’s no doubt Thailand is fraying at the edges.”  She also notes Abhisit’s alliance with “nationalist yellow-clad protesters” in getting the Democrats into power. But then she says: “Abhisit is not to blame for the deep national divides he inherited when he took office nine months ago.”

We feel this overlooks too much, including Abhisit’s long and mutually supportive relationship with PAD, his party’s decision to boycott the April 2006 elections, his failure as opposition leader to come up with any meaningful policies (he waited for PAD and the military to do the work), his reluctance to go to an election, and his deals with PAD, the palace and the military to get into power and to stay there. Some readers will argue that PPT is being to harsh, but all politicians deserve some blame for the deep divide, most especially those – like Abhisit – who led parties as the divide developed and deepened.

Beech also states that “During his short tenure, he has diligently applied himself to the slow rebuilding of democratic institutions that have been eroded by nearly four years of political turbulence. But so far good intentions have not yielded many concrete results.” PPT doesn’t know which institutions are being considered here. Certainly not elections. The judiciary? Hardly. The constitution remains  mired in conflict, although Abhisit claims to be moving on change. More darkly, Abhisit has presided over the repeated use of draconian laws such as lese majeste (see below), computer crimes and the Internal Security Act. The ISA is mentioned later in the report but Abhisit’s reliance on the Act is not seen as being for political advantage.

Beech notes that Abhisit met TIME recently in Government House, “the country’s seat of power that twice over the past year was besieged by yellow- and red-shirted protesters, forcing three successive administrations to abandon their offices.” She fails to note Abhisit’s support for PAD occupation of Government House.

Beech says that the “PM freely admits the difficulties the nation and his administration are facing” and quotes him:  “We have to make sure that what to me are very fundamental pillars of democracy can be put into place without being seen as contravening the idea that democracy is about the rule of majority. We have to strike the right balance.” No questions raised here. What are the fundamentals (perhaps the ideas mentioned in Abhisit’s Columbia speech)? The fact is that Abhisit has worked with others to ensure that the rule of majority has been contravened.

Beech is a little less soft in dealing with lese majeste and “unity building” nonsense. Abhisit apparently told TIME that on lese majeste “there has been an improvement [although] there may have been one or two cases which somehow went off the radar…” just days before Darunee Charnchoensilpakul was sentenced to 18 years’ jail. This is not the first time Abhisit has been less than truthful on such cases.

PPT does acknowledge that Beech’s report finishes on a solid and important note when she makes says that “royalists are among his greatest supporters, and publicly criticizing such punishments [for lese majeste, etc.] might be political suicide for Abhisit.” She adds: “A chap named Mark would have had a hard time explaining to his friends back in Oxford how all this fits into the modern Thai democracy he says he’s trying to build.” Indeed.

Time magazine on the challenge to the monarchy

15 04 2009

Time magazine (14 April 2009: “Bangkok Protests End; Thais Mull a Divided Nation”) has a report on recent political events which presents an interesting  understanding of important elements of the struggle.

However, it fails to grasp the manner in which the monarchy has been operating over several decades in Thailand under the present king and his palace advisers.

The report reproduces all of the usual palace propaganda regarding the monarchy. For example, it is stated: “For more than six decades, Thailand’s Buddhist majority has been remarkably unified under the country’s King.”

It is as though the journalists have not read anything of the history of political struggles in Thailand. They are able to forget the anti-monarchism of the king’s early reign, the communist insurgency and a range of other schisms in Thai society over six decades. We recommend PPT’s historical documents. They might even browse some of Time’s own archive.

“Considered above politics, the 81-year-old monarch rarely comments on political matters and instead stands as a suprasymbol of Thai cohesion.”

Had Paul Handley’s book on the king has never been written, perhaps the journalists could be excused for this repetition of propaganda. That the book is widely available means they have no excuses.

“His picture graces most every restaurant and business in the land, and a giant billboard of his visage with the words “Long Live the King” greets visitors at Bangkok’s airport.”

Again, the journalists mistake propaganda for something else. PPT doubts they would be so blind to propaganda about “revered leaders” in places like, say, North Korea.

“For years, millions of Thais wore yellow every Monday in a voluntary show of support for the King, who was born on the first day of the week and is represented by the golden hue.”

Well, from 2006, anyway, when the government of Thaksin Shinawatra declared thatcivil servants should wear yellow in honour of the king’s 60th anniversay on the throne. For a year or so, this became compulsory wear in many places of employment.

PPT doesn’t doubt that many Thais feel considerable affection to the only monarch they have ever known. However, as the report shows this has changed. To believe that this change has been totally sudden and surprising suggests that these journalists ears are seldom anywhere near the ground or the grassroots.

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