TSB Note: While we are all waiting for #thaistory part 3, which has been promised “soon”, here’s an important article by Bill Schiller in The Star.
BANGKOK—Towering high in the heavens overlooking the courtyard of Bangkok’s Siriraj Hospital stands an illuminated portrait of Thailand’s King Bhumibol, with a garland of dazzling neon lights proclaiming, “Long Live The King.”
But how long does the king have to live?
Last weekend, Thailand held national elections. The results may heighten the nation’s political instability. But to understand exactly how, it’s necessary to know the role of Thailand’s monarchy. It’s complicated because in Thailand, criticizing the royal family is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
After nearly two decades with Reuters, journalist Andrew MacGregor Marshall wanted to write about Wikileaks cables that shed light on the true nature of Thailand’s monarchy. He tells us why he felt compelled to quit his job in order to reveal the truth.
Listen to this story at WBEZ.
Nicholas Farrelly in The Conversation
Public commentary that deals with the messiness of Thailand’s recent political history is risky. Anything that touches on the personalities, activities or priorities of the royal family is especially dangerous.
On royal topics, the sensitivities of the Thai authorities know few bounds; clamping down on subversive strains of analysis has become core bureaucratic business.
The depressing reality is that a clear-cut election victory in Thailand may not settle anything. The people have voted decisively but the popular voice is far from decisive.
Politicians still tear at each other, the King totters slowly towards his grave, the military and the elite agonise, and Thailand still confronts the danger of a civil war. After five years of commotion and sometimes bloody contest, Thailand’s nightmare is that the election result merely hits the reset button to restart the same cycle of conflict.
Andrew Marshall in FP
A decade ago, Thailand was a beacon of democracy and progress in a neighbourhood mired in archaic autocracy. Three of its neighbours — Burma, Laos, and Cambodia — are trapped in the past and very far from being free. The fourth, Malaysia, is an apartheid state in which access to education and jobs depends on race. Thailand was regarded as the natural leader of the ASEAN bloc and an example for other democratizing nations to follow. Tragically, all that has changed.
THAILAND is in the final stretch of a nail-biting election campaign, with only three days to go. A surge in support for the opposition party, led by the sister of Thaksin Shinawatra, former prime minister, has alarmed the ruling party and its military pals. What better time, then, to publish a book-length online exposé of the “invisible hand” in Thai politics? Armed with a trove of leaked American cables, a British journalist has done just that. The first two parts of his tale, entitled “Thaistory”, are available via his website. A third installment is promised shortly, with a final chapter to follow.
On April 10, 2010, Reuters cameraman Hiro Muramoto was shot dead while filming clashes between Thai soldiers, Red Shirt protesters and unknown gunmen in the Rachadamnoen area of Bangkok. He was 43 years old and is survived by his wife, Emiko, and two children. Hiro joined Reuters as a freelance cameraman in 1992 and became full-time in 1995. The final footage he filmed before his death showed him in the thick of the fighting on April 10 – a day in which five soldiers and 20 other civilians were also killed. Among the incidents he filmed was a still unexplained grenade attack that killed Colonel Romklao Thuwatham, a rising military star and deputy chief of staff of the Queen’s Guard.