The criticism of The King of Thailand and the royal family is over-blown, writes the doyen of Australia’s foreign correspondents, Greg Sheridan in The Australian (20/5). “ King Bhumibol Adulyadej is 82 and in frail health,” he says.
“ There are accusations that some of his advisers were acquiescent in the 2006 coup. But The King was not personally involved. Nor can he possibly be held responsible for the mess today. He is revered by the Thai people and on occasions has been able to use his moral authority to defuse tense situations.
" It seems the monarchy may have lost some authority. All he could possibly do is ask Abhisit to offer early elections, which Abhisit has already done. If The King tried to exert moral authority and was unsuccessful, that would be worse.”
“There are rumours Abhisit may step down, as a gesture to appease Red Shirt emotion, and be replaced in the short term by his Defence Minister, General Prawit Wongsuwan. But none of these gestures looks enough to resolve social divisions embittered by a fresh round of bloodshed.”
In an opinion piece in The Sydney Morning Herald (20/5) Mr. Kriangsak Kittichaisaree, the Thai ambassador to Australia, says those wishing to overthrow Thailand's current system of government “under constitutional monarchy have resorted to unjustifiable character assassination of the Thai royal family.”
“Their main targets are the King and the Crown Prince, who was named heir to the throne several decades ago, and remains so under the constitutional law on royal succession,” he continues.
“As a constitutional monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej is above politics and he could intercede to give advice only when he would not be seen as getting involved in Thai political struggles to achieve a political victory for one side."
" He certainly would not intercede for his personal benefit or the gain of those around him. Weng Tojirakarn, a senior Red Shirts leader, has himself ruled out appealing to the King, saying he is ‘highly respected, loved by the Red Shirts and above politics’.”
….pillars of the Thai nation….
“Nationhood, religions and the monarchy are the three main pillars of the Thai nation. In May 2006 the United Nations awarded its first human development lifetime achievement award to the King, hailing his tireless efforts over 60 years to help the poorest and most vulnerable people in Thailand as an example to the world.”
“ With the respect, admiration and reverence accorded by Thais to the King, the institution of the monarchy is sacred for grateful Thais. Insults, including drawing caricatures to depict the monarchy in a negative light, are comparable to religious sacrilege, a serious criminal offence in civilised nations. The Thai royal family does not bring lawsuits."
" The lese-majeste law is there to protect their honour and reputation. A national committee has been set up to scrutinise the implementation of the law in order to prevent any abuse in its enforcement.”
“King Bhumibol's heir will have a tough task emulating the King's monumental achievements. But, wouldn't it be fair to give the Crown Prince a chance to prove his mettle when he is actually on the throne?”