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 relatively 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 bleak 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
It wasn’t true. Doctors had cleared Bhumibol to go home back in October 2009. The truth was that he was refusing to leave Siriraj. He seemed to be trying to escape the burden of being king. Bhumibol had been a lonely, socially isolated figure throughout his reign. As maverick royalist Sulak Sivaraksa told US magazine Fellowship in a 1992 interview: 24 A KINGDOM IN CRISIS He’s a very nice man, but he has no friends, and he knows it. People surround him, flatter him, and so on. In Buddhism, the concept of a good friend is very important.
Sometimes he was taken down to the hospital pier beside the river for brief appearances, in a wheelchair and usually accompanied by his favourite dog,Tongdaeng. On 29 September, the king was wheeled to another part of the hospital, dressed in a tuxedo and black bow-tie, for a musical recital in his honour. M. Blues. The concert organizers said the date was chosen because it was thirty-four years since the last time the king had played music in front of a student audience. He used to do this regularly, but stopped after 29 September 1976.
Years 26 A KINGDOM IN CRISIS later, during a conversation with his biographer William Stevenson in the 1990s, Bhumibol recalled that the prince had explained that royal ritual and tradition were immensely important. ‘When the legends die, all collapses’, Nakkhatra warned him. ‘Angkor Wat was the centre of a great empire and now it’s overrun by monkeys’ (Stevenson, 1999). The evening of 19 September 2010 was the moment it became clear that the legends of Thailand’s ruling class were dying. Bhumibol’s kingdom was in crisis.