Archive for the 'Press' Category

Royal succession : “As father fades, his children fight”

Striking article published in The Economist this week (read here).

The King, the succession, the Prince, the links with Thaksin, the fight between factions, the future of the monarchy… It says a lot.


This week issue of the newspaper is not (of course) distributed in Thailand.

Times On Line gives the finger to the thai government

The “Times Online” has unofficially refused to comply with a request by the Thai government to hand over the controversial taped interview with former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to Thailand, which contained parts that are deemed lese majeste, according to the Minister to the PM’s Office Satit Wonghnongtaey. (PRD)

And even deeper into the Rabbit Hole :

The government will not stop requesting the tape of an interview by ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra from the Times Online although the latter has unofficially rejected the request, according to Minister to Prime Minister’s Office Satit Wonghnongtoey.

Mr Satit stated that the news agency had already denied Thailand’s request, claiming that it was the right and freedom of the press.
However, the government had assigned officials concerned to submit another letter to the Times Online demanding an official statement to clarify the matter, he said.

The minister affirmed that the government would not stop asking for Mr Thaksin’s interview tape since the issue has hurt the feelings of Thai people. He added that if the Times Online was sincere and did not have any deals with the ex-prime minister, the news agency should give cooperation to the Thai government in the investigation process. (PRD)

Paranoid. And hysterical. Totally. Those are the proper words to qualify such behaviour.

To read this famous interview and my comments, click here.

So to summarize : an english media has given the finger to those thai maniacs who think that the world is besieging Thailand, that there is a universal conspiracy to “hurt the feelings of Thai people“, that there is a global threat against “thai national security“, orchestrated by Thaksin and legions of devil foreign journalists who don’t understand Thailand (of course).

Oh dear… we do understand… too well. That’s their problem. 😉

But the worst is : those clowns might indeed believe their own words and fantasies. That’s the scary part.

Because, beyond the obvious political manipulation (they push everything at their hand against Thaksin), there is a nefarious way of thinking gaining some momentum right now in Thailand.

It’s called Thoughtcrime. They arrest a doctor who wrote something on the web about the King’s health. They ask foreign medias to “comply” with their requests… etc. They accuse foreign new editor of lese-majeste. Shall we see a pattern there ?

Something is seriously wrong in Thailand…

And meanwhile, we still wait for some bright comments coming from Abhisit, our young, dashing and Oxford-educated Prime Minister. You know the guy who loves to speak about “democracy” and “rule of law” on CNN (and here)…

What does he think about this stuff ? Afterall, this minister is close to him.

So do we have to conclude that Abhisit agrees ? That Abhisit doesn’t give a shit about the freedom of the press ? That Abhisit has forgotten everything they (allegedly) taught him in Oxford ?

Bangkok’s governor : “Everybody worries about the king”

In a SPIEGEL interview, Sukhumbhand Paribatra, the governor of Bangkok and a cousin of the king, condemns former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and criticizes the Thai Army. He says he is deeply concerned about the state of Thailand and the future of the monarchy.

A few quotes :

SPIEGEL: At some point, the king will no longer be there. Will Thailand then slip into chaos when he dies? Are you afraid of that?

Sukhumbhand: Of course I am afraid. I was not afraid before. But now, after a few years of political polarization, I think that this political polarization will become even more violent.

SPIEGEL: The king is 81 now. Normally, on his birthday he reads a speech to the nation each year. But last year was the first time he didn’t read it himself. That might indicate that he is ill. Is there reason to worry and are you afraid?

Sukhumbhand: Everybody worries about the king. Even if he goes for a checkup, people panic. Yes, of course we are worried.

SPIEGEL: Is he seriously ill?

Sukhumbhand: Let me formulate it this way: He’s not doing as well as he was 10 years ago.

PIEGEL: You are a cousin of the king. So you know the royal court’s rules very well. How is the successor to the king actually selected?

Sukhumbhand: There are generally two possibilities. The king can pick his own a successor …

SPIEGEL: … which King Bhumibol Adulyadej has not done yet …

Sukhumbhand: As far as we know. If that hasn’t happened, then a successor must be found according to the palace law of 1926. But that is subject to approval by the parliament.

SPIEGEL: So his son, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, or one of his daughters would become the successor?

Sukhumbhand: No, the palace law doesn’t permit a female successor to the throne.

SPIEGEL: So the only choice would be Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn?

Sukhumbhand: That we know of, yes.

That’s the proof that not only westerners are thinking about the succession issue… However, I don’t understand when he says “the palace law doesn’t permit a female successor to the throne. I thought Princess Sirindhorn had the status of princess royal. She could take the throne.

If my thai readers could enlight us on this issue.

Her title in Thai is the female equivalent of the title held by her brother, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn

“Once upon a time” : a short story to frighten the children and enlighten their parents

You should read “Planning a coup ? Here’s how”, an article from Philip Golingai. He’s a journalist working for a malaysian newspaper.

I like very much this piece. Having the head into thai politics almost on a daily basis, it’s actually quite difficult to keep the broad picture in mind.

We have such a weak and short memory… It’s our curse.

Short stories are a very good mean to refresh it and to put the common sense back into its boots.

From the “happy military coup” in september 2006 to the Frankenstein coup 2 weeks ago, it’s a striking summary of Thailand’s history.

At the end, you’ll feel the “invisible hand”.

You might even be able to touch it.


Press : “Asian trade in free fall as exports to West dry up”

Days pass… and the situation is worsening in Asia. The fantasy of “decoupling” seems long gone.

The Telegraph publishes a good article, from Ambrose Evans-Pritchard.

A few quotes.

Flemming Nielsen, from Danske Bank, said exports from Korea and Taiwan both shrank by over 20pc last month. “The numbers are terrible. Intra-Asian trade is in free-fall. Taiwan’s exports to mainland China in November were down a whopping 42pc.”

Fan Gang, a top adviser in Beijing, said China’s exports would also show a decline when data is released this week. “Things are not good: industrial growth will be around 5pc and export growth will be negative,” he said. Economic expansion of 5pc would be a major shock and entail recession in the Chinese context.

Japan’s economy shrank 0.5pc in the third quarter and risks sliding back into deflation and perma-slump. Exports fell 7.7pc in October on crumbling demand for cars and machinery.

Earlier rescue plans have already pushed Japan’s national debt to 170pc of GDP, the world’s highest. Private savings have collapsed from 14pc of GDP in the early 1990s to 2pc today. Japan goes into this downturn without a cushion.

When the biggest customers (Europe, USA, Japan, China) are going down… to imagine that Thailand could be “insulated” is nothing but a sweet dream (read here and there).

A contraction… of GDP can’t be discarded anymore…

“It is likely that the economy will mark negative growth this quarter compared with the previous one, due to a host of negative factors”.  Bangkok Bank executive chairman Kosit Panpiemras. (Nation)

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.

Press : “Judicial coup murmurs”

Shawn W.Crispin, an acute observer of thai politics, wrote an interesting piece : “Judicial coup murmurs”.

He’s talking about the risk of dissolution (read here) of the PPP, the collapse of the coalition. He says that the verdict of the Constitution Court could come “soon” after november 26. And the PAD could push for… an interim authority.

However, a top leader within the anti-government People’s Alliance for Democracy […] predicts a wholly different scenario after the widely expected guilty verdict, one that exploits a perceived loophole in the Thai constitution and would amount to a sort of judicial coup.

The Thai charter allows politicians from disbanded political parties 60 days to regroup under a new party banner. However, the charter fails to indicate explicitly who or what agency would have the legitimacy to govern in that interim period.

The PAD source claims that Constitution Court, Supreme Courtand Administrative Court judges have discussed establishing a “Supreme Council”, consisting symbolically of nine members, to fill the political vacuum.

The proposed authority – which the PAD source likened to China’s State Council or cabinet – would be empowered to appoint an interim prime minister and cabinet, and also pass legislation by decree. (Asia Times)

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.