Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Veera on Being Monarchically Correct (Via Bangkok Pundit)

Back to the future

By Veera Prateepchaikul

Bangkok Post

But the trouble is that other more sensitive issues, such as PM's Office Minister Jakrapob Penkair's controversial speech deemed as challenging the monarchy, may be dragged into the fray, which would push the already heated atmosphere to boiling point. Unless, of course, Jakrapob steps aside first and distances himself from any activities of the pro-Thaksin followers, who are likely to be mobilised to counter the PAD protests.

Sadly, though, the firebrand minister does not feel any sense of guilt and remains fiercely defiant, unapologetic and unrepentant. He is due to clarify himself before the media today. And, in the meantime, he has instructed the National Broadcasting Service of Thailand (formerly Channel 11) of the Public Relations Department to broadcast footage of the activities of the Royal Family and royally-sponsored projects, to demonstrate his loyalty to the country's highest institution.

Poor Jakrapob! What is on his mind? Does he think his audience is foolish enough to believe that by having such footage rerun on state TV as recommended by one of his staff he will be seen as being loyal to the monarchy? Rather than interfere in the affairs of the NBT - thereby giving the opposition new ammunition to push for his impeachment - he should have done the simplest and most appropriate thing: make a formal apology for what he has done, whether it was done out of naivety or not. But Jakrapob appears to have such a big ego which prevents him from admitting his inadvertent error and saying sorry. In which case, it may serve him right should he meet his certain political demise, sooner rather than later; for the PPP and the government stand to lose the longer Jakrapob is allowed to stay on.

As for the military, the generals are far more concerned about the monarchy issue than with the constitutional amendment bid. More importantly, they have sent a clear signal of their dissatisfaction about Jakrapob's speech.

Here is the YouTube video:

Here is the transcipt of part of the speech:

Well, however we have started of as a country in Patronage system.

Most of you who read about Thailand and it's brief history, because we decided to count our history 700 years ago and disregard the 300 years before that because it involved the Southern complexity.

That's why the history was chosen to start 700 years ago in Sukothai period where Sukothai was the capital city of what would become Thailand. In Sukothai at least in one the reigns of the Sukothai long history, we were led to know and believe that one of the Kings during Sukothai period, King Ramkamheang at the time to be more precisely.

Great brother oh I'm sorry Great Father Ramkamheang at the time because the idea of God like monarch hasn't arrived in this land yet during the Sukothai period. So he was or they were observed and regarded as the Great Fathers who could be benevolent to their people and gave the people what the people needed at the time.

One of the noted examples was that Great Father Ramkamheang or King Ramkamheang just to be short proposed to have a bell hung in front of his palace and anybody with specific problems could come and ring that bell and he or his people would come out and handle the problems.

That was one of the first lessons the Thai students learnt about Thai political regime that you have someone to depend upon.

When you have a problem turn to someone who can help you, so before we know it, we are led into the Patronage system because we asked about dependency before our own capability to do things.

These are the very basic concept that makes Thai people different from many peoples around the world.

So we started of like that, during the Sukothai period we had Kings that did things like that.

So people had duty to be loyal, people had duty to have faith in the system bestowed on them because that was the working system at that time and there was no competing system.

In other words, there was not there was no better idea on how a kingdom could be run so that it was the best system at the time.

Later on in Ayuthaya period, that was the capital city of a land for 400 and some years, the God like idea of monarch had been introduced with the Khmer civilization's influence. The idea of a King as a Demi-God as a representative from the Hindu Gods and the Gods beyond these Hindu Gods had arrived in our land at that time.

So the Patronage system of helping people or being dependable for people had been changed into the state of protection.

If you have loyalty to the King, unquestionable loyalty to the King, you would be protected, in order to show this protection more clearly, people who do otherwise must be punished.

So the very system in Ayuthaya period shows or showed that there was an evolution of the system, some people might call it regressive, some people would call it progressive. Whatever it might be in your opinion, it was a combination between the benevolence of the Great Fathers model and the Great Leaders model. In other words, the Kings of Ayuthaya were powerful and the concept of power were realized at the time that if people in power could be benevolent, you could benefit from that power as well. In other words Ayuthaya period taught Thai people to live with power, how to live with it. How to survived in it, and how not to be destroyed by it. But Ayuthaya period also triggered the new relationships in a land, the master slave relationship, the noble and commoners relationship. That was Ayuthaya.

Then came Rattanakosin period, I would eh bypass the 12 years of Thonburi period. In Rattanakosin period, in which we are now.

The Chakri Dynasty was the starter of this so called Rattanakorin Rattanakosin period.

What it it is? It's a combination of Ayuthaya and the new skills of what I would like to call knowledge management.

In other words, the glory of the chief father is combined with the power of Ayuthaya period and the Demi-God stature of the monarchs has been added during Rattanakosin period with the so-called knowledge management.

Knowledge is power at that time, it was perceived so. That's why King Mongkut spoke English in his court and he introduced science and probably technologies, inventions, foreign goods that were completely unknown to Thai people at that time. As one of the sources of his powers King Mongkut was seen not as a benevolent King, not as the best of the chief Father King but as the Father of science and technology. He's still regarded that way.

So in other words, the system in Thailand has been to the point that leaders and rulers have been finding the best way possible at that time to convince people that they are dependable. The sources of their being dependable varies over time, like I described to you.

I don't see any lese majeste here.

I don't see why the Stalinist Veera believes Jacky Boy should apologize. I guess he wasn't being monarchically correct, which means, one shouldn't talk about the monarchy at all unless one is expressing love and admiration. Even though Jakrapob has a nice English accent, his grammar sucks, so when he talks, it sounds like incoherent ramblings.

His little historical summary isn't inaccurate.

The irony, of course, is that the patronage system isn't limited to the monarchy. It may originally stem from the monarchy, but it isn't exclusive to the monarchy. Anyway, the irony is that Jakrapob is the client of his patron Thaksin. Any fool can see this. So when Jakrapob is attacking the patronage system, he is attacking his own relationships, because he wouldn't have gotten far in the political world without being Thaksin's client.

So it is a little hypocritical of him to attack the monarchical aspects of the patronage system without also addressing the patronage system that also sustains the bureaucracy, the military, and corporate Thailand. The opinion writers don't want to bring this up, because they might have to admit that Thailand is still a backwards feudalistic country.

On a personal note: I can't stand Jakrapob. He really annoys me. I remember him from the Apec Summit meetings. I thought he was an idiot. However, what is interesting to me is that he was singing the praises of the monarchy the entire time. If Jakrapob had a brain cell in his head, he would be pulling those videos as evidence of his loyalty to the monarchy.

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