Issue cover-dated January 10, 2002
A Right Royal Headache
It promises to be a messy new year for Thailand politically, if the messages from some senior officials are to be believed. Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is becoming an increasing source of irritation to King Bhumibol Adulyadej because of Thaksin's perceived arrogance and his alleged attempts to meddle in royal family affairs. Thailand's constitutional monarch has no formal role in day-to-day politics, but in a speech in early December marking his birthday he lambasted the premier in public.Thaksin is known to have business links with the king's son, Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn. According to a senior official close to the palace, all this is frowned upon by the king, prompting speculation of a possible confrontation between the Prime Minister's Office and the palace. The same source worries that Thaksin, who gained a massive majority in last year's January 6 general election, may use his status as Thailand's wealthiest businessman, with solid backing in parliament, to fend off the royal palace. That would have serious and worrying implications for the future stability of Thailand.