What I have gleaned from Andrew MacGregor Marshall's articles on recent Thai history so far (I've just finished the second of four parts) is that Thailand is the land of bloody (and blood-less) coups and re-coups, vicious political intrigues, extensive corruption, rampant police and military abuses of power, a not so universal love for a not so divine royal family, free-flow massacres and an abundance of extra-judicial killings, assassinations, riots and lynchings, nasty retaliatory sectarian violence in the predominantly Malay (therefore Muslim) South and misguided attempts to quell it, incessant lies and counter-lies, and ... smiles and pleasant tourism.
Hardly any (?none) of these atrocities have been properly investigated, for reasons Andrew makes perfectly clear.
It is heart-breaking to be reminded of these incidents in such great detail if you love Thailand as I do.
It would make Machiavelli blush. He could come back and write a contemporary Thai version of his masterpiece (and he might still call it "The Prince"). George R.R. Marshall would be going to create a plot as intricate as what is going here.
OK, most this turbulent (ready bloody) history and royal intrigue was already known (check Wikipedia for a rundown on the major characters) and there are several excellent (and not so excellent) books and articles (most unavailable in Thailand) that Andrew quotes from extensively. But the key coup (choice of words?) that Andrew has made is to integrate confidential cables sent from the US embassy in Thailand that were briefs, updates, analyses and comments on the political situation. These were made available through Wikileaks. Their perspective is always interesting and was often head-shakingly ignored.
What makes Andrew's article essential reading about Thailand is that the recent history has now all been put together in one place, and it has never been been analyzed so fiercely and fearlessly out loud as this.
Andrew is longer welcome in Thailand, he mentions on FB. Well, there's a surprise.*
Seriously, I can't talk much about this here either as maybe I could get a lèse majesté rap just for linking to his site, who knows how they think. The example of Harry Nicolaides who made a vaguely derisory mention of a certain Prince in his otherwise bottom-of-the-harbour-bound unheard of novel, Verisimilitude, leaps to mind.
Game of Thrones? It's not ALL about the ascession when King Bhumipol dies, as he may do soon, but it is MOSTLY about the ascession. And therefore who is aligned to whom and who will rule Thailand (i.e. reap the benefits of it's intractable corruption) when that happens.
I'll say no more. It would be employment suicide for me to go into the details as I come here about once a month. Luckily this blog is completely anonymous. Right?
As I said in my post about Nicolaides' arrest:
"Danger Danger Will Robinson, for serious bloggers and writers in foreign countries with low-tolerance laws, not just those of us with smart-arse attitudes looking for the easy laughs...
Words. People take them so fucking seriously..."
As an aside, the Prince's cousin, his first wife (! ... whom he intensely disliked and finally divorced, with her as the guilty party even though he had had several children by his mistress because she could not proffer her case thanks to those convenient lèse majesté laws [Wikipedia]...) Soamsawali, now known as "The Princess Mother of the King's First Grandchild", has been at the home-stay place near Chiang Mai where I nearly got engaged (not) when I visited it about five years ago... (Her mother was devastated when I did not return with an offer of marriage!)
They have photo commemorations of Soamsawali's three visits up on the wall, wearing firstly a Rage Against The Machine t-shirt, then a Sepultra t-shirt, and finally a Rolling Stones tongue-logo t-shirt.
Now SHE would have made a great queen.
* (No more tattoo sessions with Izzy, Andrew.)
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