Today I went back, once again, to Paul Handley’s The King Never Smiles: A Biography of Thailand’s Bhumibol Adulyadej. In the cut and thrust of the moment it can be easy to forget what has happened in decades past. I would certainly encourage any New Mandala readers with a copy of Handley’s account near to hand to turn to some of the middle chapters. This retro-extract comes from page 237.
The orchestrators were many, but the palace’s hand was everywhere [in the events of 6 October 1976], going along if not directing, all year stirring up the frenzy. The king and queen consistently interfered with the government’s attempt to establish authority and enforce the law. Most brazenly, with Red Gaur and Navapol [both righist groups of the time] at his side, Bhumibol introduced the catalyst for violence, Thanom’s return. That made it impossible for Seni [Pramoj, the Prime Minister] to calm the city. When the students protested against Thanom [Kittikachorn, a former Thai dictator], there was no attempt to muzzle the incitement to violence by people like Utharn [Queen Sirikit’s cousin, Lieutenant Colonel Utharn Sanitwongs who ran a daily army radio program].