Monday, July 30, 2007

Asia Sentinel: Rumor Nation (More on Succession)

Rumor Nation

Asia Sentinel

Whispers about the crown prince’s health transfix Bangkok

thaiprince2Thai Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn showed up in the flesh at Kasetsart University in Bangkok on Friday to watch his wife receive a master’s degree in home economics, debunking widespread speculation in the capital over the past few weeks that he had died or was incapacitated.

Indeed, Bangkok’s supercharged rumor mill has had the prince everywhere and nowhere at once. Variations of the rumors had him taking flight simulation courses in Canada or flying illegally over Sweden. The darkest and most tragic accounts—which were picked up by several blogs—said he died in Switzerland while undergoing treatment for an incurable disease.

Either way, taxi drivers, office workers, executives and bureaucrats across the capital all waited anxiously to see if the tales were true. The story seemed plausible to many for a number of reasons. First, whispers that the prince is suffering from a terminal illness are nothing new. Second, he hadn’t made a public appearance since he opened a new theatre on June 3 after making several high-profile appearances throughout the year. Third, the rumors were widespread, persistent and confirmed by military and diplomatic sources to foreign newswires and top editors of local newspapers, which would never dare print the information anyway until receiving confirmation from the palace.

It’s unclear who started the rumor campaign or why, but many observers said that something was certainly amiss. Even so, the opacity surrounding Thailand’s monarchy allows rumors like this to fester as all official public information is tightly controlled.


I have already covered this in another blog entry, but I think I should post the link, because it will probably be one of few articles, in print or online, we will get concerning the succession.

The Thai media will never cover it or analyze it, because they are cowards, and the international media won't cover it, because the few correspondents who know Thailand want to keep coming back. One of the truisms I have discovered in my short life in politics and the media is that reporters care more about their self-interest/careers more than they do about reporting the truth, which is why the news media(in most countries) is pure crap.

Considering that I don't belong to any political group or media organization, thankfully, it will be up to me(and perhaps a few others) to keep the issue alive, at least in the English speaking world.

If Thailand is ever going to transform from a feudal society to a democratic one, the monarchy and all the corrupt actors (notably the military and aristocracy) who hide behind it will have to face the scrutiny of the public.


Rich said...

Perhaps this explains a barrage of propaganda advertising on Thai TV over the last few days. The CP has now transformed onto a guardian Angel.

On another tack... a Masters Degree in Home Economics? Is that a piss-take?

hobby said...

Even though it is interesting to speculate and it would be nice to see a clear-cut plan, my gut feeling is that there has been enough time to plan for it, so I expect that when the time comes for succession it will be handled smoothly, and will be accepted.

Time will tell.