Sunday, September 24, 2006

Hail to the King

Remember I had blogged about Thailand's coup, ousting PM Thaksin Shinawatra?

Well, according to CNN, there's one heck of a twist: the man behind the coup may well have been the King of Thailand!

Supposedly he had had his fill of Thaksin, and decided to (peacefully, thankfully) end the situation.

It remains unclear exactly what role the king played in removing Thaksin. The palace claims it was not involved in the events, but the king late Wednesday endorsed Sonthi as the head of a temporary governing council, according to a nationally televised announcement -- essentially giving his blessing to the coup.

Many Thai people, along with political and monarchy experts, see it as another example of the constitutional monarch's behind-the-scenes power, which he has exercised sparingly but effectively in his six-decade reign.

"If the king didn't give a nod, this never would have been possible," said Sulak Siwalak, a prominent social critic and author of books on the role of the monarchy in Thailand.

"Thaksin failed to realize that the king has been on the throne for 60 years and he's no fool. The man is old, and Thaksin thought he could play around with him -- and it was a dangerous game," said Sulak. "He felt he could belittle the king, and that's something the king cannot stand."
Guess we've relearned a lesson that a lot of people forget: those "symbolic and ceremonial" roles have a way of becoming much less so when things get hairy.

I imagine Tony Blair is going to be a little more careful around Elizabeth and Charles, huh?

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