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Thailand Economic News
09-02-2019, 10:13 AM. (This post was last modified: 09-02-2019, 10:15 AM by karlmarx.)
Post: #1
Thailand Economic News
Ubolratana's bid for the Thai premiership in concert with a Thaksin-affiliated party has upset her brother King Vajiralongkorn. But why did he say it was "inappropriate" and unconstitutional? Was he really concerned with "traditions, customs, and culture?"

Like most political conflicts, the root issue could well be economic interests.

The cooperation between the monarchy (which exercises control through religion and reverence) and the military (which exercises control through violence) has created a powerful coalition that has proved to be unstoppable over the past 30 or so years. If you hadn't noticed, the military was never seriously admonished by the King (past and present) for their numerous coups and resistance towards democratic elections. Together, the monarchy-military coalition control a large part of the Thai business and economy.

Although it has been presented as such, the monarchy wasn't always at the apex of political power. Since the abdication of the crown in 1932, the military had complete control of the country, including the monarchy. It was only 30 years or so later that the monarchy was able to restore their political status, by cleverly positioning themselves as religious/spiritual leaders of the kingdom. As an attack on the monarchy could thus be construed as an attack on Buddhism -- which could then be used to rally the common people against the attackers -- the military had to share political power with the monarchy. 

More than a decade ago, Thaksin managed to subvert this coalition through his own network. He was growing his own power base by gaining the support of key personnel not only in the government and military, but also in the religious/spiritual space that is the monarchy's domain. His growing influence was, of course, used to fuel the business interests of his own network and himself. At the peak of his political clout, he might have thought his power base was strong enough to wrest control away from the monarch and military coalition. The latter, fearing that their economic and political interests are being threatened by this upstart politician, soon put an end to Thaksin's ambition, with the blessing of late King Bhumibol. 

The status quo has since remained till today. But the emergence of Ubolratana in Thaksin's camp has revived the monarchy-military's fears of yet another subversion to their control of the country. But there should be no cause for concern; since the military could simply seize power upon unfavourable election results, perhaps citing threats to the throne by the new party as reason.

But why would Ubolratana vie for power with her brother? It could be something as simple as sibling rivalry. Her biography suggests that she has more liberal attitudes, and distanced family relationships. And besides, it is not an uncommon view that her brother does not match up to the clout/admiration/adoration that their late father commands. 

Should the military decide that they no longer wish to serve Vajiralongkorn -- perhaps upon sensing his inability to appeal to the masses, and hence, loss of popular support  -- the crown may be passed to another royal who is more appealing to the public. Princess Sirindhorn, who is commonly referred to as "princess angel," is the likely contender.

What does all this mean for investors of securities in Thailand? Give greater weight in considering businesses that are connected to, or supported by, the monarchy-military coalition. There is a high probability that they will stick around for the longer-term.


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