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A royal tussle –the King, the Thai people and the interim government

Updated On: Dec 08, 2006

For all the Thai people’s reverence to the King, on recent political matters his opinion may be disputed.

While the whole kingdom gathered to celebrate King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s 79th birthday on Tuesday, the King took the opportunity to endorse PM Surayud, saying, “He is a man of principle.” As for the interim government, the King praised them “as well-experienced persons in whom he expressed confidence that they will steer the country out of its current woes through its one-year term in office”, the Thai News Agency reported.

Nonetheless, there is a pervasive sentiment that the government comprises “a large bunch of old and retired bureaucrats”. Even if the projected economic outlook forThailand is a reasonable 5%, the Thai people are increasingly impatient with the coup-makers (the Council of National Security, CNS) and an anti-coup rally will be held Sanam Luang this Sunday.

However unnerved the interim government and CNS may be, a media offensive has uncovered that this rally is organized by Thai Rak Thai (TRT) people, thus watering down the potential efficacy of mustering support against the incumbents in authority. The Nation has also criticized the TRT factions for trying to reclaim power in the guise of democracy for the people. It reported, “The country badly needs a visible, legitimate political force to prod the Council for National Security (CNS) into cleaning the country up, throwing those corrupt elements in the previous government into jail, and putting the country back on a course for genuine, robust and incorruptible democracy. This isn't going to happen - simply because the supposed organisers aren't credible… We really do need a series of genuine political rallies against coups. This phantom vision of a political show of force at Sanam Luang, created by a tormented mind residing outside the country, is a real political farce indeed.”

Perhaps nobody is more tired of governmental inefficacy than the inhabitants of the strife-worn South. For all the talk of peaceful measures, both Thai Muslim and Buddhist are caught in the fighting between the government and insurgents. Due to mutual suspicions, civilian communities are too frightened and ham-strung to help one another, exacerbating the tensions.

Now that more paratroopers are being sent to the Southern provinces, it is hoped that their presence will re-assure residents of their safety alongside the re-installation of the popular Southern Border Provinces Administration Centre (SBPAC) that had been dismantled by Thaksin when he assumed power.

Surayud is also on a “charm-offensive” to clear misunderstandings with the Muslim world. He is going on Al-Jazeera TV to “talk about [the] government’s effort in restoring peace in the southernmost provinces, especially about its attempt to create unity among villagers, most of whom are Muslims… [the] government [is hoping] to create better understanding about the government's position in handling Muslim insurgents, by informing other countries about the government's peaceful means in solving the unrest”.

Sources:

More paratroopers to go to South (Bangkok Post, 6 December 2006)

PM gives Al-Jazeera interview (Bangkok Post, 7 December 2006)

PM calls for end to social injustice (Bangkok Post, 7 December 2006)

The anti-coup rally: give us a real one, please (Nation, 7 December 2006)

Groups to rally against junta(Bangkok Post, 7 December 2006)

Thai Rak Thai linked to most key anti-coup groups (Bangkok Post, 7 December 2006)

Thai King supports post-coup government to address woes (Thai News Agency, 5 December 2006)

Thai economy projected to grow 4.5 per cent next year (Thai News Agency, 30 November 2006)