The Return of the King's Son
As Thailand grapples with the formation of its new government, the intensity of developments remains unrelenting. Following the Constitutional Court's recent announcement to delay its consideration over the National Assembly's decision to reject the nomination of Pita for Prime Minister as violation of the constitution until August 16, 2023, the Parliament Speaker responded by deferring the vote on the candidate from Phue Thai. This move ensures a continued absence of a new government for at least another fortnight. Adding to the intrigue, Vacharaesorn Vivacharawongse, the second son of the King who left Thailand in 1997, has made an unexpected return after more than two decades away. This news has, however, eclipsed the forming of the new government
The controversial Twitter account (now renamed "X") titled "Taluwang" (translated as "Puncture through the Palace") has captured a viral video of Vacharaesorn's arrival, where he is seen greeting people at Suvarnabhumi Airport on Sunday night. This single tweet has garnered 5 million views.
Last week, the Phue Thai Party (PTP) made a notable exit from its 8-party alliance MOU. Following this, in a swift pivot, the PTP scrambled to form a new government coalition, facing a tight deadline with just two days remaining before the introduction of their Prime Ministerial candidate, Srettha Thavisin. The party had previously indicated that its new coalition's unveiling would occur on Thursday, a day prior to the anticipated Friday vote.
Yet, before this could happen, the Constitutional Court interjected. It announced a postponement, mulling over the legitimacy of a previous National Assembly vote, which, dominated by senators, had sought to prevent Pita Limjaroenrat, leader of the Move Forward Party (MFP), from being nominated as Thailand's new Prime Minister, citing the duplication of motions as its reason. Contrarily, the MFP argued that the PM's election isn't legislative in nature but is instead a process to elect the government's head. They believe the delay contravenes the constitution, thereby pushing any potential resolution to August 16, 2023.
Subsequent to the court's announcement, House Speaker Wan Muhamad Noor Matha deferred the Prime Minister election, extending the voting timeline by at least two weeks. Given these developments, the PTP retracted its promise, cancelling its coalition announcement.
Chuwit's Unveiling Controversy and Revealing a Personal Struggle
Chuwit Kamolvisit, once renowned as the nation's preeminent massage parlour magnate, has transitioned through various roles: from entrepreneur to politician, and now, to political commentator. His move to commentary came after legal restrictions - stemming from three imprisonments - prevented him from participating in recent elections. Recently, Chuwit held a press conference highlighting what he alleges are Sretta's dubious real estate transactions aimed at tax evasion. Chuwit criticized such dealings as morally unsuitable for someone aspiring to the nation's top office.
Keen to emphasize his impartiality, Chuwit underscored that his revelations weren't motivated by personal "agendas", but rather an obligation as a citizen to scrutinize potential leaders. In an unexpected and emotional revelation, Chuwit disclosed that he is battling advanced-stage cancer. Fresh from chemotherapy, he shared that his prognosis indicates just eight months to live.
Sretta Fights Back Amidst Controversy and Allegations
Sretta Thavisin took to Twitter in defense of recent allegations. He vehemently stated that his actions were always within legal bounds and that his executive decisions have no ties to potential oversight lapses. Several pundits argue that there's a fine line between tax evasion and astute tax planning, suggesting that Sretta's transactions lean more towards the latter.
In a recent update, Sretta declared that he has engaged legal counsel to sue Chuwit for defamation, asserting his right to uphold his reputation. Concurrently, murmurs have proliferated across social media platforms, spotlighting past tweets from Sretta that appear to disparage a female flight attendant of Thai Airways, among other dubious communications. Sretta's initial response was to claim his account had been compromised and that he would pursue legal action against the perpetrator. However, in a subsequent tweet, he conceded that some inappropriate posts could have stemmed from personal lapses in judgement. He acknowledged these mistakes and vowed to be more prudent in the future.
Reacting to the lawsuit, Chuwit alleged that he is being targeted by a SLAPP suit initiated by Sretta.
PTP and BTP: New Alliance on the Horizon
Today, a strategic pivot has come to the fore. The Phue Thai Party (PTP) and the Bhumijai Thai Party (BTP) unveiled plans to forge a new coalition. Touting the combined strength of PTP's 141 MPs and BTP's 71 MPs, their collective count stands at a formidable 212 MPs. Given the week ahead to rally more party allies, their numbers already surpass the parliamentary halfway mark of 250 MPs — a comfortable margin for government formation. The coalition remains hopeful that the senators will back Sretta as the new PM.
Anutin Charnvirakul, the BTP leader and another Prime Ministerial contender, laid out three clear stances: a refusal to lead a minority government, an unyielding stance on not amending article 112 (the lese majeste law), and a decision against aligning with the Move Forward Party (MFP). Both parties were keen to clarify that the core aim of this coalition endeavor is to endorse the PTP's PM candidate, with no ongoing dialogue about the cabinet's composition.
Their joint declaration outlines the following:
Dedicate unwavering commitment to the nation's goals, prioritizing swift economic recovery and reinvigorating democracy. A drive to harmonize and reconcile stands at the core of their mission.
Expedite constitutional amendments. The maiden cabinet meeting is slated to resolve holding a referendum, aiming to draft a new constitution via the Constitution Drafting Assembly (CDA) process.
Champion innovative political practices. Both the opposition and government will be empowered to function effectively. Collaborative endeavors are encouraged for beneficial projects, while issues must be swiftly addressed and rectified.
Pledge to establish a government that epitomizes transparency and accountability.
The inception of this government welcomes participation from House of Representatives members. Senators, too, will play a pivotal role in selecting the Prime Minister, advancing the nation through its current political and constitutional quagmires.
Vacharaesorn Vivacharawongse: Maintaining Royal Connections Amidst Exile
Amid the ever-evolving political tapestry of Thailand, the narrative has increasingly revolved around the anticipated return of the King's second son, Vacharaesorn Vivacharawongse. Following a departure from Thailand in 1997, he and his siblings sought living in the UK. Yet, that year took a decisive turn when the Thai Embassy in the UK conveyed the revocation of their royal statuses.
Finding himself in de facto exile in the United States, Vacharaesorn carved a legal career with Maney Gordon in Tampa, Florida. While not engaged in official royal duties, he demonstrated a discernible intent to stay connected with the Thai community. Beyond his professional realm, he has been actively involved in initiatives that bolster the ties of Thai students abroad with their homeland. The Thai Heritage Scholarship Fund of New York, established by him, stands testament to this effort, aiming to both assist Thai students in New York and perpetually fortify their linkage to Thailand.
In Thailand's monarchy, a structured order of precedence, known locally as "Pojiam", serves as a guide for official ceremonies and royal protocols. As of now, the first 12 members in the list are as follow:
The King: At the helm of the order stands the monarch himself.
The Queen Mother: Honored and recognized for her esteemed position as the mother of the reigning king.
The Queen: The consort of the current King.
The Princess Debaratanarajasuda: Holding a significant position in the royal hierarchy.
The Princess Srisavangavadhana: Another key royal figure.
Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya: Noteworthy for she relinquished all her noble titles. Yet, she remains in the order, credited to her birthright as the daughter of a former King and being the elder sister to the present monarch.
The Princess Suddhanarinatha: Her inclusion is unique, given the honor in what is noted as a "special case".
The Princess Rajasarini Siribajra: Holding a commendable rank within the order.
Princess Sirivannavari: Renowned and distinguished.
Prince Dipangkorn Rasmijoti: The male scion positioned within the lineup.
Princess Siribha Chudabhorn: Adds to the esteemed list of royal figures.
Princess Aditayadorn Kitikhun: Rounds up the official order.
It's intriguing to note that Vacharaesorn, despite his lineage and recent attention, does not feature in this order.