By Andrew MacGregor Marshall
“An explosive research that lays naked what the Thai elite have attempted to maintain hidden for many years. A clear-eyed view of what's fairly at stake in Thailand’s carrying on with turmoil.”—David Streckfuss, writer of Truth on Trial in Thailand: Defamation, Treason, and Lèse-Majesté
“A well timed and hugely readable account of the awful political truth of the Land of Smiles. a necessary primer for each visitor.” —Joe Studwell, writer of How Asia Works
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Extra resources for A Kingdom in Crisis: Royal Succession and the Struggle for Democracy in 21st Century Thailand
We pinned up a lot of pictures of the King, which were printed in our Manila printing plant. (Good, 2000) Over the decades, thanks to the propaganda efforts of the USA, the Thai establishment’s efforts to inculcate royalism, pliant local the Land of Smiles 35 newspapers and a Western media that lapped up the fairy-tale narrative of an exotic land with a monarchy courageously combating communism, a now-familiar narrative emerged. Thailand was a haven of freedom and harmony in a troubled region, a country full of charming and obliging natives who lived carefree lives, all thanks to the immense hard work and unrivalled moral authority of the saintly saxophone-playing King Bhumibol.
We were made to believe they are the greatest of all Kings and Queens, and in those days TV was saturated with programmes about royal projects and charities to prove it. No one in my family had ever met the King, but we all loved the King because everyone said he is a good King. When I was very small we used to go to the neighbours to watch TV. m. news about the Royal Family. Making sure they watched the royal news was part of their code of practice for being a proper citizen. When the Government said light a candle for the King they did so without question, and they really did love the handsome King and the beautiful Queen, the young prince and the princesses, and never stopped commenting on how graceful they looked… This is how I loved my village and how we ‘loved’ the King and Queen, long before I was able to think about the meaning of love.
But by mentioning an issue Thais prefer to leave unspoken, Gaga violated one of the country’s unwritten rules. Thousands took to social media and online forums to denounce her. A protest rally was hastily organized, and the director general of Thailand’s Department of Intellectual Property considered the issue serious enough to warrant a formal response, condemning Gaga’s tweet as ‘offensive, insulting and creating a bad image for the country’ (Petchanet, 2012). 40 A KINGDOM IN CRISIS One of the most remarkable achievements of Thailand’s estab lishment has been shutting down portrayals of the monarchy that they disagree with, even far beyond the country’s legal jurisdiction.
A Kingdom in Crisis: Royal Succession and the Struggle for Democracy in 21st Century Thailand by Andrew MacGregor Marshall