Accusations of “evil actions” and “disloyalty” . . .
Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn, who has held the throne since 2016 following the death of his father, has sacked six palace officials “because of their severe disciplinary misconduct and deeds that are considered extremely evil.” This comes just days after the 68-year-old monarch stripped his consort, Sineenat, of all titles for her “disloyalty” and “ambition.” Sineenat, a former nurse and army officer appointed by the king on his birthday in July, was the first royal consort appointment in nearly a century.
A king's growing control . . .
Such firings and accusations are serious business in Thailand because of the country’s lese-majeste law, which prohibits scrutiny or debate of the royal family. It is one of the strictest such laws in the world, with jail terms ranging between three and 15 years per charge. King Vajiralongkorn’s father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, held the throne for 70 years and was revered as a positive moral figure in a kingdom experiencing political chaos. The current king is lesser known in Thailand, having spent most of his time abroad and largely out of the public eye. Since acceding to the throne, King Vajiralongkorn has taken more control of royal affairs, even taking personal control of two military units of the Royal Thai Army.
Building a stronger monarchy-military alliance . . .
That Thailand’s lese-majeste law has been increasingly enforced since the Thai military took power in a coup in 2014 is a sign that King Vajiralongkorn may be more supportive of strengthening the monarchy-military alliance than his father was. Thailand may yet see future moves away from a constitutional monarchy and toward an absolute monarchy, posing economic and political challenges for Canada’s engagement with the country of 69 million.
- Al Jazeera: Thai king sacks six palace officials for 'evil actions'
- South China Morning Post: Is Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn a modern-day Henry VIII?
- World Politics Review: Why the Thai King’s power grab could backfire