The Monarchy is above politics and above the polarisation. The Monarchy favours political stability, rule of law and prosperity for the country. If there is political stability, the Monarchy will also enjoy stability. If there is political instability or social upheavals, the Monarchy will also suffers from the instability.
The Monarchy feels uncomfortable everytime Thailand faces instability. This is an important fact. The Monarchy can’t favour any parties because it will lose its impartiality. The Monarchy was disturbed by a request for a royally appointed prime minister in 2006 because that could not be constitutionally done. The Monarchy is now disturbed by all parties in conflict at the moment because they don’t use their wisdom or make self sacrifice for the country to move ahead again in a proper fashion.
The Monarchy observes the constitutional rules. Contrary to what some books would like us to believe, a weak democracy and a weak rule of law equally undermines the strength of the Thai Monarchy. In short, if there is balance in the Thai system and the Thai people are happy without any divide, the Monarchy will also enjoy stability. The Monarchy can co-exist with genuine democracy in the Thai context.
The Monarchy does not prefer political instability so that it could side with the Military to defend its “privilege and interest” as the wrong-headed The Economist magazine has wrongly claimed. The political instability undermines the Monarchy’s stability too.
Similarly, Thailand’s interest is to see political stability in its neighbours such as Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia or Burma. Thailand does not enjoy stability if its neigbours face political instability or economic hardship. If Thailand’s neighbours achieve stability and prosperity, Thailand will also benefit from that neighbouring stability and prosperity.
The United States also prefers a healthy and stable Mexico rather than enjoying seeing another peso crisis.
The Monarchy system of Thailand should also be seen in this context regarding its relationship with other domestic institutions. If there is balance in Thai society and all the domestic institutions are strong under the rule of law, the Monarchy will enjoy stability.
His Majesty the King’s role is impartial. He strictly follows the tradition and the Constitution. He has several times warned the Thais to unite and to use their wisdom to prevent the country from sliding into calamity. The King has used the word “calamity” or lom jom several times.
Abhisit Vejjajiva, the Democrat leader, called for the former prime minister Samak Sundaravej to dissolve the House to defuse the political crisis. By implication, if the politicians could’t resolve the political crisis, they had to return the power to His Majesty the King.
After the election was completed, the King would return the power back to the people through Parliament. In this sense, there is always continuity of power in Thai politics, with the Monarch as the ever-present institution.
When King Prachadipok, or Rama VII, lost his Absolute Monarchy in 1932, he did not hand his sovereign power to anybody or any particular group of people. He simply wrote a blank cheque of his sovereign power to the Thai people.
Whenever the Thais can’t settle the political crises among themselves, they return the power to the Monarch before they try to move ahead again with the blessing of the Monarch. This is how Constitution Monarchy is working in Thailand, with the King as the benovalent Monarch.
Forbes has recently published a survey finding that the Thai King is the world’s richest Monarch with a wealth of US$35 billion. This is a total misunderstanding.
The magazine does know the difference between the assets of the Crown Property Bureau and the assets of His Majesty the King. Any personal assets belonging to His Majesty were derived before he ascended the throne. After he became king, all the assets belong to the Crown. The Crown Property Bureau is a public institution, like the State Railway of Thailand or Egat, owned by the Thai people. The Royal Grand Palace is a property of all the Thai people.
Of the vast landholdings of the Crown Property Bureau in Bangkok, only 17 per cent of the holdings is developed with commercial purpose. The rest is being rented out to government agencies and organisations and the local communities at charity rates.
One just can’t calculate President Bush’s wealth by adding the White House to his net worth.
Posted by: Thanong Khanthong , The Nation, October 8 , 2008
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