Thailand: The Challenge of Eroding Royal Support

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May 25, 2007 18 36  GMT

Summary

Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej said May 25 the
restoration of democracy in Thailand remains on track, effectively
withdrawing his unconditional endorsement of the military-backed
government. In its eagerness to dismantle the party of ousted Prime
Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the government had started taking the
king’s support for granted — consequently dismantling a key base of
its legitimacy.

Analysis

In a nationally
televised ceremony May 25, Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej warned the
country’s top judges against dissolving Thailand’s two main opposition
political parties in a Constitutional Court verdict due May 31. He
described Thailand’s political situation as not good at all and implied
that dissolving the Thai Rak Thai (TRT) party, founded by ousted Prime
Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, and the Democrat Party would damage the
nation’s image. This is the first time the much-revered king has
criticized the military-backed government’s performance so publicly
since it came to office after Thailand’s September 2006 coup.

The
king, who is considered a near-divine authority on what is best for
Thailand’s social well-being (he has devoted much if not all his life
to establishing social programs throughout Thailand), typically steps
into Thai politics only when stability is threatened. The last time the
king spoke out against an incumbent government (under Thaksin), that
government fell. By speaking out now, he is effectively withdrawing his
unconditional endorsement of the military-backed government. He also is
lending credence to rumors that the May 31 ruling probably will order
the dissolution of the two opposition parties, something likely to
spark mass violence in Bangkok.

The two opposition parties in question face charges of electoral fraud, and will be dissolved
if found guilty by the government-appointed panel of nine
constitutional court judges May 31. This would bar both parties’
executives from politics for five years and therefore from
participation in December’s election. This blatant obstruction to
Thailand’s promised democratization process is the first issue capable
of generating significant unrest or violence in Bangkok to have arrived
in recent months. Opposition groups have long been hoping for just such
an issue to help trigger a countercoup.

The Thai king’s top
concern is maintaining stability in the capital, hence his assurances
to the public that promised democratic elections actually will arrive
in December. Likewise, the identity of the two parties his words might
have saved from dissolution is irrelevant to him, since it was the
consequences of their dissolution — unrest — that he is trying to
prevent.

The struggling regime
has no choice but to respond immediately to address the king’s concerns
given the political weight that royal statements hold in Thailand. The
regime’s original goal in guiding the judges toward a guilty verdict
was to eliminate the TRT from Thailand’s political landscape
as a warning to all opposition parties straying too far from the
government’s wishes. Simultaneous dissolution of the Democratic Party
would have aimed to uphold the widely accepted Thai concept of balance
and unity.

The king’s statement means the Constitution Court
in all likelihood will dissolve one of the opposition parties, if any.
Though this will protect the government from a potential backlash, that
and sticking to the promised electoral timetable will no longer be
enough to secure its position given how heavily the government’s
legitimacy rested on the king’s unconditional endorsement.

To
prevent the king’s support for the government from slipping further,
and for the government to pick up what pieces are left of its public
credibility, the government will have to deliver in other areas — such
as containing continued militant violence in the south.
Given its lack of success in this endeavor in the nine months since
coming to office, the government’s options — and days — appear to be
limited.

Malaysia Sun

Friday 25th May, 2007 

Thailand’s revered king concerned about court ruling

Thailand’s highly revered king is concerned that the country’s two main political parties could be outlawed.

King Bhumibol Adulyadej has expressed concern about a ruling next week,
when the courts will decide whether the country’s two main parties
should be disbanded.

While the king has no formal political power, his interventions are taken very seriously by the country’s political leaders.

The king has warned the Constitutional Court judges they have the responsibility to prevent the country from collapsing.

The Constitutional Court is due to decide on the 30th May if the former
ruling Thai Rak Thai Party and its main opposition Democrat Party
violated election law, causing last year’s political crisis where the
election was annulled and the military staged a coup.

If the Constitutional Court judges find the two parties guilty, both
face being disbanded and could be banned from politics for five years.

Go to Google News Home

Thailand to boost security for court party ruling
Reuters AlertNet, UK – May 25, 2007
By
Pracha Hariraksapitak. BANGKOK, May 25 (Reuters) – Thai Prime Minister
Surayud Chulanont ordered police on Friday to boost security ahead of
court

Thailand boosts security for ruling
TVNZ, New Zealand – May 25, 2007
Thai
Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont ordered police to boost security ahead
of court verdicts next week on whether the country’s two top political
parties

Thai king comments on dissolution case
NDTV.com, India – May 24, 2007
AP.
King Bhumibol Adulyadej has advised top judges to make a clear decision
in a case that could dissolve Thailand’s top political parties, warning
that the

Thai king warns of political strife
MWC News, Canada – May 25, 2007
By
Agencies. The Thai king has warned senior judges that a ruling due next
week on the future of two leading political parties could put the
security of the

Thai king against dissolving parties
Gulf Times, Qatar – May 25, 2007
BANGKOK:
Thailand’s influential king yesterday warned dissolving the two main
political parties will damage the country’s image, commenting that the
Thai King concerned over political row
PRESS TV, Iran – May 25, 2007
Thai
King, Bhumibol Adulyadej, has voiced his concerns about the possible
dissolution of the country’s two largest political parties.

Thai political parties respond to king’s worries (Roundup)
Monsters and Critics.com, UK – May 25, 2007
Bangkok
– Thailand’s two leading political parties on Friday said they would
respect the verdict of the Constitution Tribunal next week, even if it
leads to

Thai king warns over court ruling
BBC News, UK – May 25, 2007
Thai
King Bhumibol Adulyadej has expressed concern about next week’s court
ruling on whether the country’s two main parties should be disbanded.
Thai Rak Thai won’t rally after verdict
Bangkok Post, Thailand – May 24, 2007
(BangkokPost.com)
– Acting Thai Rak Thai party leader Chaturon Chaisaeng vows Friday the
party will not stir political unrest no matter how the verdict of

Thailand’s Former Ruling Party Says King’s Speech Helps Peace
Bloomberg – May 24, 2007
By
Beth Jinks and En-Lai Yeoh. May 25 (Bloomberg) — Thailand’s former
ruling party, facing possible dissolution next week, welcomed comments
by the king
Thai king urges firm, clear verdict in case that could dissolve
International Herald Tribune, France – May 24, 2007
AP.
BANGKOK, Thailand: King Bhumibol Adulyadej has advised top judges to
make a clear decision in a case that could dissolve Thailand’s top
political

Thai King says fears strife after verdict on parties
Reuters India, India – May 24, 2007
By
Nopporn Wong-Anan. BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej
told senior judges on Thursday a ruling next week on whether the
country’s two main

Thai King expresses concerns over political situation
Monsters and Critics.com, UK – May 24, 2007
Bangkok
– Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej – who rarely comments on politics – has
registered his concerns about the possible dissolution of the country’s
two

Thai king voices concern over imminent ruling electoral fraud cases
The Northwest Florida Daily News, FL – May 24, 2007
AP.
BANGKOK, May 24 (Kyodo), Thailand’s revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej on
Thursday expressed concerns over the imminent verdicts scheduled to be
given by




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