New Mandala: Kingdom of Fear – and Favor

Maha Vajiralongkorn is struggling to attract the respect directed toward his father, Bhumibol Adulyadej – with analysts expecting the new king of Thailand to be weak, “precisely because of his lack of moral authority, divinity and popularity once enjoyed by Bhumibol,” explains Pavin Chachavalpongpun for New Mandala, a publication based in Australia. “Vajiralongkorn reigns as a monarch whose authority is based upon fear, and as one who cares little about people around him.” The king who had reputation as a playboy relies on rigid rules, and those closest to him can be surprised by sudden promotions or demotions, arrests, exile, or even fatal accidents. In 2014, a military coup removed leaders with elections scheduled for this year. Vajiralongkorn, in power for just six months, has already consolidated his power with changes to the constitution, and he freely applies the lese-majeste law, including warnings for Thai citizens not to befriend or read articles by at least three well known critics including Chachavalpongpun. In Thailand, “Poverty has declined substantially over the last 30 years from 67% in 1986 to 7.2% in 2015 during periods of high growth and rising agricultural prices,” notes the World Bank. But growth has slowed, and erratic governance could threaten tourism, foreign investment and exports. – YaleGlobal

New Mandala: Kingdom of Fear – and Favor

Thailand’s late King Bhumibol Adulyadej was revered, but the new king by relying on fear and rigid rules for control may be monarchy’s biggest threat
Pavin Chachavalpongpun
Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Read the article.

Read about Thailand’s economy from the World Bank.

Read about Thailand from the CIA World Factbook.

Pavin Chachavalpongpun is associate professor at the Centre for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University, Japan, where he teaches Southeast Asian Politics and International Relations in Asia. In late 2011, Pavin led a nationwide campaign to free a political prisoner, named Akong, who was accused of lese-majeste and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Akong later died of cancer while still in prison.

© Copyright 2017 New Mandala

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