The death of the king has injected a considerable strangeness into news reporting on Thailand. Here’s some examples from the past 48 hours.
The junta’s draft constitution has been in a legal limbo due to the failure to establish royal succession. If that isn’t strange enough, The Dictator has now stated that it “will be sent for royal approval on 9 November.” It is being sent to a non-king. That currently non-existent king will have 90 days to sign it or ask for changes. The idea that a constitutional monarch – if there was one – has a prerogative to change a draft constitution is, to say the least, strange. Maybe it is just strange reporting.
Making it stranger, junta leader General Prayuth Chan-ocha announced that “the deadline for Thailand’s draft constitution being ready for the King to sign is 9 November.” But there is no king.
Stranger still, The Dictator stated “that the Constitutional Court will maintain the power to amend prologue charter even after the King’s signature due to the uncertain period of transition the country faces. Such changing conditions mean the King’s approval must also be liable to change.” Huh? Strange indeed.
Thai football fans will be grateful to the junta. The “mourning period” has caused a strange need for football fans to be told that they “will be allowed to cheer during Thailand’s Nov 15 World Cup qualifier against Australia…”. But, that could change again…. Watching without cheering would be strange indeed.
But some can’t even watch some events. A military court has “indicted a man for allegedly participating in a campaign against the junta-backed draft charter in late June despite the fact that the man merely observed the campaign.” Participation in a political rally is a crime in the junta’s strange land, but so it seems is watching a political rally.
In the “mourning period,” as the last reign is eulogized in syrupy fairy tales that are historically inaccurate and make the late king superhuman and responsible for all things good in Thailand for the last 70 years, there are now renewed efforts to have the 1932 Revolution rolled back.
Ultra-royalists are “threatening to threatening to destroy the 1932 Revolution plaque.” This tiny plaque is one of the few remaining reminders that Thailand is meant to be a constitutional monarchy.
These ultra-royalists want a different history for Thailand and see that erasing the vestiges of the 1932 Revolution erased from a royalist history of a royalist Thailand. They prefer a neo-feudal Thailand under the reign of kings and generals.
This is why the “People’s Party plaque has been a contentious item in recent history. Some vandalized the small, simple plaque with sharp objects…”.
This strangeness is the norm in the military’s Thailand.