Thai par­lia­ment meet­ing stirs suc­ces­sion date ru­mours

The Myanmar Times - - World -

THAI­LAND’S par­lia­ment will hold “an ex­tra­or­di­nary meet­ing” to­mor­row, height­en­ing spec­u­la­tion that it is poised to pro­claim Crown Prince Maha Va­ji­ra­longkorn king.

Prnce Va­ji­ra­longkorn is the suc­ces­sor to King Bhu­mi­bol Adulyadej who died on Oc­to­ber 13 aged 88, end­ing a seven-decade reign.

His fa­ther’s death plunged the king­dom into in­tense mourn­ing.

It also prompted the Crown Prince to de­lay his procla­ma­tion as king in or­der to grieve with the na­tion, ac­cord­ing to the junta that cur­rently runs the coun­try.

The time­line of his as­cen­sion to the throne is murky, with of­fi­cials as well as the gen­eral pub­lic un­will­ing to take a punt on mat­ters in­volv­ing the monar­chy – an in­sti­tu­tion pro­tected by a tough lese ma­jeste law.

But ac­cord­ing to con­ven­tion, the cab­i­net must first put for­ward the new king’s name for par­lia­men­tary ap­proval.

Then the as­sem­bly speaker has to for­mally in­vite the Crown Prince to be­come the monarch be­fore pro­claim­ing the new king to the pub­lic.

That process ap­pears im­mi­nent, af­ter junta leader Prayut Chan-o-cha told re­porters he would chair a cab­i­net get-to­gether to­mor­row, fol­lowed by a meet­ing of the Na­tional Leg­isla­tive As­sem­bly.

NLA pres­i­dent Porn­petch Wi­chitcholchai de­scribed it as “an ex­tra­or­di­nary meet­ing”, but added he is yet to be given the agenda.

“It could be about a new law, rat­i­fi­ca­tion of treaties or other ur­gent is­sues,” he told re­porters.

The prince, who has yet to at­tain his fa­ther’s wide­spread pop­u­lar­ity, spends much of his time over­seas, es­pe­cially in south­ern Ger­many.

The new monarch will only be coro­nated once the pre­vi­ous monarch is cre­mated, of­ten months later.

A strict royal defama­tion law and lay­ers of of­fi­cial opac­ity make it dif­fi­cult to con­firm facts about Thai­land’s monar­chy and all but im­pos­si­ble to openly de­bate its role.

All me­dia based in Thai­land must self-cen­sor to avoid fall­ing foul of the royal defama­tion law, which pun­ishes crit­i­cism of the monar­chy with up to 15 years in pri­son per in­fringe­ment.

Thai­land’s arch-roy­al­ist mil­i­tary gov­ern­ment has ramped up use of the law, with a par­tic­u­lar fo­cus on on­line dis­sent, since com­ing to power in its 2014 coup.

Author­i­ties and ul­tra-roy­al­ist vig­i­lante groups have fur­ther stepped up en­force­ment since King Bhu­mi­bol’s death.

An ini­tial 30-day mourn­ing pe­riod for the king lapsed on Novem­ber 14, al­though civil ser­vants and many more will mourn for a year un­til King Bhu­mi­bol is cre­mated. –

Photo: EPA

Prince Maha Va­ji­ra­longkorn is ex­pected to take over as king soon.

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