Military seen as causing lèse majesté conflict-The Nation

October 30, 2010

[FACT comments: At first glance, Avudh’s article may seem like the usual Royalist fawning but check our emphasis. Our only disagreement would be that divided sentiments grew from the 2006 coup d’etat. We think they came from greatly increased censorship of free expression.]

BURNING ISSUE

Thais must realise HM is above politics

Avudh Panananda

The Nation: October 26, 2010

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/home/2010/10/26/politics/Thais-must-realise-HM-is-above-politics-30140817.html

 

This month marks two centenaries – the death of King Chulalongkorn and birth of the late Princess Mother. It also gives us the chance to reflect on why so many Thai citizens have allowed themselves to get divided over the monarchy, when they have been the direct beneficiaries of the Chakri reign.

 

There has not been a single tyrant on the throne during this, the Rattanakosin Era, and His Majesty the King has been recognised, even by communist idealists, for his dedication.

 

Though a number of chronicles show criticism of absolute monarchy, past monarchs chose to reason and pacify opponents rather than resort to suppression.

 

With the advent of modern media, King Vajiravudh spearheaded the concept of free press in his experimental city, the Dusit Thani, set up in the palace to raise awareness about rights and democracy.

 

His successor, King Prajadhipok, chose to abdicate instead of siding with a certain clique of people, who wanted to delay popular voting in order to cling to power.

 

During the Cold War, the Royal Family became the target of an underground campaign launched by the communist movement. However, instead of reacting sternly, His Majesty reached out to his people and even accessed the red zones barred from local authorities.

 

The smear campaign failed to eclipse the King’s benevolence and dissipated long before the Communist Party of Thailand collapsed.

 

The prevailing political predicament, which erupted during Thaksin Shinawatra’s administration, has spawned the politicisation of the monarchy. Rival camps are trying to sway sentiment by involving the country’s revered institution.

 

On the one side, a band of Thaksin supporters, anti-coup activists and anti-establishment individuals attack the monarchy for what they see as the King’s meddling in politics. The pro-Thaksin camp attracts support mainly from rural people and workers.

 

On the other side, Thaksin’s opponents, royalists, conservatives and pro-establishment individuals try to uphold the monarchy by branding their rivals as anti-royalist traitors. The anti-Thaksin camp attracts support from urbanites and professionals.

 

Also in the fray are individuals, who for some inexplicable reason coupled with mistaken bravado, like to post irresponsible comments on the Internet, hence the mushrooming of cyberspace graffiti on the monarchy.

Zealous agencies keep shutting down these websites, but the problem does not go away because this suppression is triggering defiance.

In a nutshell, the prevailing divisiveness over the monarchy can be attributed to the 2006 coup.

The pro-Thaksin camp launched veiled attacks blaming the King for condoning the coup. Under the red-shirt banner, the bashing of the monarchy gained momentum.

The yellow-shirt movement, meanwhile, seized the opportunity to sway the sentiment by portraying Thaksin and the red-shirt movement as conspiring to undermine the monarchy.

It even coined the phrase “lom chao”, which means toppling the royalty, though the words have no legal classification or clear definition.

To this day both sides rely on hearsay to bring the King into their respective arguments. They are quick to invoke or blame the monarch to sway sentiment, even though there are no facts to back up their claims.

Meanwhile, the murky phrase manages to gag the opponents.

This does not bode well, because every monarch thrives on people’s accessibility, not suppression.

How long will it take for Thais to realise that those at the top are trying to drive a wedge between them and their King for their personal gains?

 

One Response to “Military seen as causing lèse majesté conflict-The Nation”

  1. Emilio Says:

    I agree with your comments at the start. The 2006 coup is not the only explantion for what is happening. Censorship and the arrest of farangs for lese majeste are influencing factors in the dissent against the monarchy.

    But, as usual, this is being swept under the carpet by the junta for political reasons.

    Thailand’s regime should admit that the Paddidda movement exists, and that it is politically motivated.


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