EbeneNews – UA – King of Thailand seeks to bring back absolute monarchy


    MONUMENTS disappear in the dark In April 2017, it was a small bronze plaque from the Royal Plaza in Bangkok It marked the place where, in 1932, the revolutionaries proclaimed the end of the monarchy Absolute of Thailand In December 2018, a statue was taken It commemorated the defeat of the rebels who attempted a coup against these same revolutionaries Last month, activists installed a plaque in the heart of the royal district of Bangkok to protest against the missing monuments « The people expressed the intention that this country belong to the people, and not to the king », he declared In one day he was gone

    The world knows Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn as a playboy who had four wives, lives among many women in a German hotel, and relishes crop tops that reveal elaborate temporary tattoos For Thais, his reign of four years has been more sinister

    The king makes elderly advisers crawl in front of him, shaves the heads of courtiers who displease him and denies several of his children Worse still, he has steadily accumulated power, taking personal control of « Crown property », assuming direct command of the troops and ordering changes to the constitution He does not hide his desire for the days of absolute monarchy (hence the disappearance of monuments) But the Thais began to protest in July Can they prevent the removal not only of plates, but constitutional constraints?

    On October 14, thousands of demonstrators marched through central Bangkok to camp in front of Government House, where the ministers’ offices are located.They also formed human chains to take away potted plants that were blocking the path of the country’s democracy monument Not far away, King Vajiralongkorn himself, in the country on a short-lived visit, drove by in a procession. Groups of royalists gathered wearing yellow shirts to show him their loyalty

    That night, a frightened government issued an emergency decree banning gatherings of more than four people and prohibiting reporting of matters that could « harm national security » or « cause panic » The government warned protesters who allegedly insulted the monarchy would be prosecuted Several prominent protest leaders were arrested the next morning Yet tensions rose as protests continued in defiance of the decree

    Thailand defines itself as a democracy with the king as head of state The monarchy is revered Photographs of members of the royal family adorn public buildings and private homes Father’s Day is celebrated on the anniversary of the previous king Thais hear royal anthem before movies start in theaters

    Technically, King Vajiralongkorn reigns as a constitutional monarch But the old structures never completely disappeared The king sat at the top of society in a semi-divine role Defenders of the remnants of this order have long clashed with those who claimed to represent an alternative source of authority: the Thai people

    The conflict explains why Thailand has suffered 12 coups and 20 constitutions since 1932 Since the 1950s, a symbiotic relationship between the military and the palace has strengthened the legitimacy of military regimes Over the past two decades, the greatest enemy of these elites has been Thaksin Shinawatra, a populist prime minister ousted by the army in 2006 His supporters, known as the Red Shirts, fought their enemies in yellow shirts on the streets on several occasions in the years following his loss to power

    The generals staged a coup in 2014 The commander who led him, Prayuth Chan-ocha, remains prime minister A pro-military constitution has put major parties, such as M’s main party, at a disadvantage Thaksin, Pheu Thai, in an election last year

    One of the supposed reasons the military took power six years ago was to ensure regular succession between the ninth and tenth monarchs of the Chakri dynasty King Vajiralongkorn’s path to the throne was not straightforward Thai elites took against him while his popular father was still alive King Bhumibol Adulyadej was considered the richest monarch in the world, his wealth exceeding that of the rulers of the Middle -Orient and members of the European royal family with their castles and palaces

    Aristocratic types are worried because the crown prince, as Vajiralongkorn was previously known, caused so many scandals Even his mother compared him to Don Juan After leaving his first wife, a full princess, he has disowned four of his five children with his second wife, an actress, who eventually fled Thailand When the relationship ended with his third wife – once filmed almost naked and squatting in front of her husband with a birthday cake – several of his family went to jail The Prince spent lavishly and indulged in the eccentricity, raising his beloved poodle, Foo Foo, to the rank of « Air Chief Marshal »

    Yet King Vajiralongkorn has taken over unhindered after his father’s death While the father was publicly loved, the son is privately hated His coronation last year drew tiny crowds compared to those of the funeral rites of the late king Despite his cooperation with military regimes, millions of Thais believed that King Bhumibol displayed the virtues expected of a Buddhist monarch

    King Vajiralongkorn doesn’t even live in Thailand He rules a country of 70 million people over 5000 miles away in Germany An insider bluntly assesses his activities there: « Cycling, fucking, eating It only does these three things « The German government finds its presence embarrassing » We have made it clear that the policy on Thailand should not be conducted from German soil, « Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on October 7. , in the Bundestag

    The king’s militaristic harem is making embarrassing headlines around the world Just months after his fourth marriage to a former flight attendant last year, he raised a concubine, a former nurse, to the status of « Royal noble consort » She is the first woman to hold this title since Thailand became a constitutional monarchy

    Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi fell out of favor shortly after her elevation She disappeared from sight Then in September she was reinstated and declared « intact » Chinese netizens compared Ms Sineenat to a cunning concubine from a popular television series , « Empresses in the Palace »

    In March 2012, permission from the Ministry of Justice was published in the Royal Gazette for a temporary prison A Spartan map appears to show its location as possibly within the grounds of a palace belonging to Vajiralongkorn His evil books are a miserable place to be Pictures of Srirasmi Suwadee, once his third wife, appeared in a German newspaper last year With her head shaved and in tears she was reportedly under house arrest

    Distributing such dirty laundry in public in Thailand, however, is perilous The country’s lese majesty law allows between three and 15 years in prison for insulting « the king, queen, apparent heir or regent King Vajiralongkorn ordered the government not to use the law But this hardly reflects the renewed tolerance Critics risk accusations of sedition or computer crime, among others In July, a man was sent to a mental hospital for to have worn a t-shirt which read: « I have lost all confidence in the institution of the monarchy »

    Playboy’s antics distract attention from the monarch’s most sinister exploits since coming to power In political, financial and military matters, King Vajiralongkorn has acquired powers never possessed by his father His interventions are part of a broader strategy to bring Thailand once again to absolute monarchy

    Take his finances In 2017 he took full control of the Crown Property Bureau (CPB), which manages royal investments (it was previously managed by the Ministry of Finance) Its holdings are estimated at $ 40 billion In 2018 , the CPB said its assets would be considered personal property of the king As a result, the monarch has stakes in some of Thailand’s corporate titans He is the largest shareholder in Siam Cement Group, a conglomerate with close to $ 14 billion in 2019, with a third of his shares The head of the CPB, long a pillar in king’s circles, is a director of the Siam Cement Group and the Siam Commercial Bank, one of Thailand’s largest banks, aged of 113 years, in which the king also has a stake

    In addition to the private means of the king, the Thai state gives funds to the royal family For fiscal year 2021, government agencies have established budgets allocating more than 37 billion baht, or more than a dollar1 billion – to the monarchy The Royal Office will receive 9 billion baht directly Much of the rest goes to government agencies, police and the Department of Defense for security and development projects By comparison, Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain cost its taxpayers the equivalent of $ 87 million last year Precise details of where the money goes are elusive Huge sums go to pay for royal transport alone (there are plenty of planes and helicopters to be maintained)

    King Vajiralongkorn’s political interventions are another demonstration of his growing authority In theory, the monarch is above parties, parliament and politics But after a referendum in 2016, in which activists were banned to oppose the constitution proposed for approval, the monarch demanded changes to the charter He modified it specifically to make the decision far easier

    He interfered even more daringly ahead of last year’s parliamentary elections M Thaksin persuaded the king’s older sister to run as a putative candidate for prime minister for a party with ties to him.But the crown did indeed come to the aid of Mr. Thaksin The monarch declared his sister’s ambitions “unconstitutional” He also said royals should stay out of politics – but the night before the election he urged Thais to vote for “good ones”. people ”, which was considered an endorsement by Mr. Prayuth and his allies

    This is just one example of how the palace and barracks have continued to support each other since King Vajiralongkorn took the throne The King has a deep interest in military matters Trained at an Australian academy , he holds the titles of admiral, marshal and air marshal The queen is a general and Mme Sineenat a major-general The king attracted the military forces to his direct command The Royal Command Guard was created with Some 5,000 soldiers They are stationed in Bangkok, while other important units of the army, including an infantry regiment and a cavalry battalion which facilitated past coups, have been moved out of the city To overthrow a government without prior coordination with royal troops would prove extremely difficult

    Why did the military allow such maneuvers? The defense of the monarchy is one of its main reasons for existing The powerful army commander who retired in September and his replacement are deeply loyal to the king They also rose through the ranks of the king’s guard, in which Vajiralongkorn himself once served M Prayuth and her closest allies, on the other hand, emerged from the Queen’s guard within the Second Infantry Division

    The Prime Minister can hardly counter the monarch’s seizure of power He depends on the king’s support for a semblance of legitimacy While the middle and upper classes of many countries contain democratic champions, those of Thailand « have never had need mass support to advance or protect their interests, ”says James Wise, former Australian Ambassador to Thailand, in his book“ Thailand: History, Politics and the Rule of Law ”These conservatives would not accept that a prime minister linked to the army pushes back the royal institution

    M Prayuth is also weak: he even struggles with his allies in the ruling coalition and lacks personal popularity This hinders his ability to cope with the challenges Thailand is facing Growth was slowing even before the coronavirus pandemic hit (see graph ) Now the central bank expects the economy to contract by more than 8% this year – worse than the Asian financial crisis crash in 1997

    Very few opposition politicians have resisted growing control by King Vajiralongkorn In October, most MPs in the liberal Future Forward party, founded in 2018, opposed an executive decree in the lower house of parliament The decree, which was adopted anyway, facilitated the partial transfer of army units and the corresponding budgetary allocations to the Royal Command Guard Even so, it was the first time that lawmakers opposed a legal process linked to the monarchy

    Future Forward no longer exists. Its platform for democratic freedoms and military reform, along with the popularity of its charismatic leader, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, has made it a threat to the establishment. rose from nothing to become the country’s third largest party in parliament in just over a year Lawsuits against the institution and its leaders began to mount In November, Mr. Thanathorn was stripped of his parliamentary status In February the party was dissolved by the Constitutional Court and its leaders banned from politics for a decade Judges ruled that a loan Mr. Thanathorn had granted the party an illegal violation of individual donation limits

    Flashmobs staged protests, though social distancing measures quickly ended them The lull was temporary Social media provided an outlet for daring criticism The moans about traffic jams caused by royal processions were so rumored, for example, that in January the king ordered the police not to close entire roads for members of the royal family

    The other grunts couldn’t be sorted out so easily In August, after legal threats from the Thai government, Facebook blocked Thailand’s access to a million-member group criticizing the monarchy « Requests like this are serious, violate international human rights law and have a chilling effect on people’s ability to speak out, » the cabinet said. He is preparing to mount a legal challenge. p>

    Popular anger has passed from screens to streets Since July, protesters have gathered to call for the dissolution of the government, reform of the constitution and an end to harassment of opposition activists students also urged more Thais to march Their efforts mark an evolution of the feud between red shirts and yellow shirts New battle lines are over democratic freedoms

    The boldest protesters openly called for a reform of the monarchy They oppose the king’s financial structure and his consolidation of military power M Thanathorn also called for transparency on how state funds are spent on the monarchy

    The situation worsened as the protests escalated The big fear is that the bloody treatment of student protesters in the 1970s will repeat itself In 1976, the police, army and vigilantes have attacked students after staging a mock hanging to protest the murder of two pro-democracy activists A story spread among royalists that the hanged figure looked like Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn According to official figures, 46 students died and more than 3,000 were arrested

    So far, the authorities have arrested a few dozen leaders of the protest The government had said it wanted to talk to students about their grievances “A peaceful and civil dialogue where we exchange our views is the best approach to move forward before, ”said the Minister of Education However, this week the establishment has lacked patience If the Prime Minister cannot restore calm, he can be replaced Any drastic intervention is unlikely, however, without foreknowledge of the monarch

    But King Vajiralongkorn’s influence comes at a price: an open criticism of the monarchy « The ghost is out of the bottle and you won’t get it back », believes a diplomat in Bangkok Plus the king’s movements towards a form of the more absolute rule are brazen, the stronger the criticism « We are trying to bring the king and the monarchy back under the constitution », explains a young protester « We are not trying to bring them down » King Vajiralongkorn’s actions could determine whether Thailand continues to revere royalty or begins to denigrate it ■

    This article first appeared in the Briefing section of the print edition under the title « Battle royal »

    Published since September 1843 to participate in « a fierce struggle between intelligence, which pushes forward, and unworthy and timid ignorance which prevents us from progressing »

    Demonstration, Thailand, Prayut Chan-o-cha, Bangkok

    EbeneNews – UA – King of Thailand seeks to bring back absolute monarchy

    SOURCE: https://www.w24news.com/news/ebenenews-ua-king-of-thailand-seeks-to-bring-back-absolute-monarchy/?remotepost=419103




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