On his UK junket, The Dictator was wheeled out before an adoring bunch of Thais – those the London Embassy regularly mobilizes for royal visits, royalists all. Usually meant to confirm the highness of the visitor, on this occasion, being exalted and pandered to caused Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha to become loquacious.
He lied that Queen Sirikit “is in good health but that it is not convenient for her to attend public events now due to her advanced age.” No one believes this but Prayuth can hardly say she’s on her death bed or that she is incapacitated or suffering dementia. Royals just stay “healthy” almost until they are pushing up daisies.
He was not likely to be lying when he spoke of the king – to do so would be dangerous, perhaps deadly. It is not the first time that The Dictator has spoken of and for the king previously.
Gen Prayuth stated that the king “has commanded his coronation ceremony be held economically…”. Gen Prayuth added that the king “commanded that it be held in a frugal not wasteful manner but asked that it align with traditional custom…”. Whatever that means…. Coronations have not always been extravagant.
Oddly Prayuth then said that the “coronation is expected to be held before the general election in February.” A couple of days ago, he said something different.
But this time he implied that it is the king who may be delaying the “election” due to the coronation. Prayuth said: “When the right time comes, … [the king] will consider signing [off on the date of his coronation]. He will take into consideration the general situation in the country…”. He added: “If it is peaceful and orderly, he [the king] would be pleased [to see the coronation held]…”.
Just to add to the picture of collusion and collaboration between king and palace, The Dictator stated that the king “has shown faith in the government’s ability to accomplish the task.” Like Prayuth, the king was said to “want … Thailand to be a disciplined country where people are instilled with a sense of voluntary sacrifice…”.
Finally, Prayuth, again referring to the king, said “the poll would fall in May at the latest but that February would be the most suitable month.” Local elections would follow national polls, not take place before them. (In fact, this was never really an options, just a junta talking point.)
We are betting on May, at the earliest, so long as The Dictator – and, apparently, the king – reckon Prayuth can deliver the appropriate and rigged result.