King’s birthday marks time-out in Thailand’s game of thrones – Christian Science Monitor

BANGKOK – Hundreds of thousands of Thais lined the streets of Bangkok on Wednesday to see King Bhumibol Adulyadej make a rare public speech to mark his 85th birthday. “My heart feels so good today seeing His Majesty,” says Penpat Thaweekul, one of the vast royal-supporting yellow-clad crowd waiting under a hot sun to catch a glimpse of the now-frail king speaking from a distant balcony. The world’s longest-sitting monarch is portrayed as a widely-revered apolitical father-figure – but even with this representation, there are lines Thailand’s elected politicians cannot cross. Though the royal institution once enjoyed a near-universal respect, recent polarization has raised questions about that role and about the country’s future after his reign. After the king’s reign, “the royalist domination in politics will be in disarray, for sure,” says historian Thongchai Winichakul. The rest, he says is unclear, wondering, “Will their power decline or will they take a tighter control during the transition?”

Some breathing room for Thailand – Asia Sentinel

BANGKOK — Thailand’s political temperature has cooled somewhat after the country’s Constitutional Court declined Friday to outlaw another yet surrogate political party for fugitive former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, in a ruling that puts the ball back in the Thaksin-backed government’s court on reforming the country’s charter. In returning the issue to the government, the court dismissed a potentially-incendiary royalist complaint that the attempt by the government to amend the constitution amounted to a plot to overthrow the Thai monarchy. “The verdict is a sane outcome, as the judiciary refrained from overstepping the mark and left the legislature intact,” said Thitinan Pongsudhirak, who teaches at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University. “There was no evidence that any of this had anything to do with undermining the constitutional monarchy.”