Press, monarchy : The Economist wants to “break the taboo”

In case you weren’t on planet Earth during the last 48 hours, here is an important update… 😉

The Economist has published 2 articles about the thai monarchy.

The king and them
The untold story of the palace’s role behind the collapse of Thai democracy


A right royal mess
Thailand’s interminable political conflict has much to do with the taboo subject of its monarchy. That is why the taboo must be broken

It’s totally unprecedented. First because the Economist is not a lowly newspaper. It’s an important one. And then because the content is indeed very, highly critical.

Here are few quotes. But you really must read the whole text.

Even the most mild, reasoned criticism of the monarchy is forbidden, punishable by up to 15 years in jail. This has had a remarkable effect not just on Thais but on successive generations of Western diplomats, academics and journalists who, with few exceptions, have meekly censored themselves. […]

Now president of the privy council, General Prem is also supposedly above politics. But this too is a myth: he is widely seen as the mastermind of the 2006 coup. Shortly beforehand he told the arm[…]

The army is a big part of the country’s predicament. Its generals believe they have a right to remove any government that incurs its, or the palace’s, displeasure—taking its cue from the monarchy that has approved so many of its coups.[…]

Other countries, from Spain to Brazil, have overcome dictatorial pasts to grow into strong democracies whose politics is mostly conducted in parliament, not on the streets. Thailand’s failure to follow suit is partly because “Father” has always been willing to step in and sort things out: his children have never quite had to grow up.[…]

“It is more and more difficult for them to hold the illusion that the monarchy is universally adored,” says a Thai academic. This illusion is crumbling amid growing worry about what happens when the king’s reign ends.[…]

For all these reasons, a former senior official with strong palace ties says there is a terror of what will come after Bhumibol. “When we say ‘Long live the king’ we really mean it, because we can’t bear to think of what the next step will be,” he says. […]

If Bhumibol’s glittering reign either ends in conflagration or leads to a Thailand paralysed by endless strife, with nobody of his stature to break the deadlock, it will be a tragedy. […]

It’s ironic : The Economist was banned (unofficially, through the distributor) in march 2002, during Thaksin’s premiership, because of an article mentioning the Thai monarchy.

But six years later, it’s like a century later… Things have changed.

3 Responses to “Press, monarchy : The Economist wants to “break the taboo””

  1. 1 Charles 6 December 2008 at 1:46 am

    It isn’t just the Economist, the critical comments in the blogosphere are also completely without precedent. A momentum is building which has the potential to achieve lasting beneficial change.

    In the minds of many Thais, it is not before time. In the minds of many others is coming a long cold period during which they are going to have to adjust to a less cosy but a lot less delusional world.

    Only good can come of it.


  2. 2 fall 6 December 2008 at 2:55 am

    North Korean people still love Kim Jong Ill and Bhutan prince/king was adored.
    With enough LM laws and chorus of propaganda, why should any place else be different?

  3. 3 erbuc 7 December 2008 at 12:42 pm

    Very interesting articles from the Economist. They have certainly felt the wrath of the Royal family in recent years.

    Are they looking for a payback or is their analysis subjective?

    One must always be careful with matters of the press as well as matters of state. Only each one of us can make up our own minds.

    However, the critical decision to be made will be that made by the citizens of Thailand in the months, or years to come.

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Thailand Crisis

Coup, Economic slowdown, Terror In the South... The situation is worsening in Thailand. Bumpy road like often before.

But this time, it's different.

The key to understand the present turmoil is the inevitable... succession of King Bhumibol.

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