The “Royal Power” controversy

Royal Power controversy - September 5, 2005
RoyaI Power (Phra Ratcha-amnat) is a book about of the powers of The King in relation to the constitution and history. It was written by a member of the disgruntled Wang Nam Yen faction that is part of Thaksin's TRT government. The book itself is thought to be an attempt to embarrass the government in the face of the recent long delays from the Palace in sending back the nomination for a new auditor general and the annual military reshuffle. These delays are a rare example of the savvy and silent wielding of Royal power in Thailand.
Members of the opposition, restless members of the government, and anti-Thaksin media have been relentlessly pushing the 'delayed' nominations along with the book--which was banned by the government--as an example of a constitutional crisis.
While this is the type of sensitive issue that could allow a pretext for overreaction, it is probably more a case of TRT highhandedness causing the government to paint itself into a corner. Thaksin is skillful at backing down and moving on when necessary dictates, but the loss of face implicit in a backdown now probably means TRT is looking for a quieter, negotiated solution that would make the nominations more palatable.
Although banned, the Royal Power book has been widely sought after by the public and was available online at the Manager website, but now the link seems to have disappeared.

Surayud to talk on HM's powers - The Nation, September 5, 2005
Political watchers will keep a close eye on Thammasat University tomorrow, when Privy Councillor Surayud Chulanont is due to address a forum on the most delicate and significant issue of the hour - His Majesty the King's powers.
The university, which has often provided a spark for political upheavals in the past, will hold the forum against a backdrop of heightened tension caused by the impasse over Jaruvan Maintaka. The government, Constitution Court and Senate have failed to remove her as auditor-general thanks to conspicuous silence from the Royal Palace over her nominated successor.
Adding to the nominations controversy, a controversial reshuffle of military chiefs, highly influenced by Supreme Commander Chaisit Shinawatra, the prime minister's cousin, has been "stranded" at the palace. The situation is unprecedented...


BEST-SELLING BOOK: The real power of the MONARCH - The Nation, September 5, 2005
After the 1932 Revolution that put an end to more than 1,000 years of absolute monarchy in Thailand, most people have formed a general misconception that His Majesty the King is under constitutional rules.
On the contrary, as Pramual Rujanaseri, a party list member of Thai Rak Thai, argues in his best-selling book "Royal Power", the King has never lost his legitimate power.
"The royal hand-over of democracy to the Thai people in 1932 represents a reduction of absolute monarchy to the exercise of royal power through the Constitution," he said in the book.
"But it does not mean that the Constitution is above the monarchy..."


Publicity ban has brought attention to my book, Pramual says - The Nation, September 5, 2005
...I don't know, but a lot of people have asked for it since my first press conference to launch the book was banned. When I wanted to give copies to all MPs at no charge, it was banned again.
Anyway, the ban has turned out well because it has lead many people to pay attention to the book. They want to know what makes it so special that the influential figures have to try to downgrade it.
More than 20,000 copies have been sold and distributed. Even Thai people in the US and monks are asking for the book. The third edition is now in print.
What surprises me is that more than 30 per cent of visitors to Manager Online (www.manager.co.th), one of the most popular Thai-variety websites, have accessed the book's Web pages through its link. I [was happy to] place it on the Internet for free...

EDITORIAL: Politics must not touch monarchy - Bangkok Post, September 8, 2005
...The author of Phra Ratcha-amnat has made clear his intention in writing the book: to educate Thais _ including government officials, politicians and lay people _ whom he believes still do not correctly understand the powers of His Majesty the King. As such, the writer himself, who is at odds with the Thai Rak Thai party, should refrain from exploiting the subject for purposes other than that of educating the people.
All stake-holders should take a pause and stop politicising the subject of royal powers if they truly love their monarch and do not want to see this highly-respected institution drawn into politics.
And those who are accountable for mishandling Khunying Jaruvan's case, in particular Senate Speaker Suchon Chaleekrua, must take action now to rectify the situation. Too much time has already been wasted. There is no more excuse for further delay.
The alternative would be for the Senate speaker to call it quits. Despite the ulterior motives held by many stake-holders directly or indirectly involved in the auditor-general's case, it is indeed heartening that the subject of His Majesty's powers has emerged from oblivion into the limelight. All of us should seize this opportunity to try and understand the royal powers, to appreciate them, and to hold in our hearts our beloved King whose early pledge, "I will reign with righteousness for the benefit and happiness of the Siamese people", has proven true for almost 60 years.

Royal powers become topic of open discussion - Bangkok Post, September 8, 2005
..."This country has two options. One is to continue to be the Kingdom of Thailand in which the prosperity of the country is measured not by economic prosperity alone but also by the improved quality of life as suggested by His Majesty the King, and the second option is to become the Thailand Co Ltd where money is everything and everything is money,'' said Mr Pramual.
" Can this country accept the fact that royal power was only a symbol of historical value and had no legislative significance? I for one can't,'' he said...

More on Royal power - September 7, 2005
[The Nation runs excerpts from a 1996 speech by Anand as background for the 'constitutional crisis.' Former PM Anand Panyarachun's stirring essays on the The King's legacy are often featured in English-language tributes to the monarch.]
The King's constitutional powers and beyond... - The Nation, September 6, 2005
...As I stated previously, the King embarked early in his reign on a journey (to know his subjects and, in the process, allowed his subjects to get close to and know him. At the same time, he used his time wisely to accumulate "constitutional" experience. He has been through 15 constitutions, 17 coups d'etat, and over 20 prime ministers. He has an acute grasp of constitutional rule. He remains detached from politics, playing a non-partisan role in the country's political process and development.
...Without His Majesty's guiding hand, we would not be where we arc today - a nation which has consistently demonstrated its inner strength, political resilience, social harmony and economic dynamism - a trait which has enabled the Thais to survive many a threat and misfortune in their long history...
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