Thailand’s king seeks to bring back absolute monarchy

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Maha Vajiralongkorn has provoked something new in Thailand: open criticism of a king

Portraits of Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun and the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej are displayed at a department store in central Bangkok, Thailand, January 17, 2017. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

 

The monuments disappear in the dark. In April 2017 it was a small bronze plaque from Bangkok’s Royal Plaza. It marked the spot where, in 1932, revolutionaries proclaimed the end of Thailand’s absolute monarchy. In December 2018 a statue was hauled away. It commemorated the defeat of rebels who attempted a coup against those same revolutionaries. Last month activists installed a plaque in the heart of Bangkok’s royal district to protest against the missing monuments. “The people have expressed the intention that this country belongs to the people, and not the king”, it stated. Within a day it was gone.

The world knows Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn as a playboy who has churned through four wives, lives among lots of women in a German hotel and relishes skimpy crop tops that reveal elaborate temporary tattoos. For Thais, his four-year-old reign has been more sinister.

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