There is lots of chatter, both online and offline, about the Forbes article that attempted to quantify the king of Thailand’s monumental wealth. It has certainly got the people talking.
The Bangkok Post has now joined the fray — there are two relevant articles including one that posits the story is “flawed”. It is based on this statement from the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In response to those articles there is a growing string of comments. Anyone can currently post comments here. And, for the moment, and in case the stories disappear from the Bangkok Post website (as sometimes happens), they are also available on NM for interested readers.
Update 1: I have found that one of the more interesting Thai-language discussions of the various issues raised by the Forbes article is available here. A variety of perspectives are on show. Some rail against “those foreign capitalists” who spread such news, and others see the king’s wealth as a point of national (and even personal) pride. Others urge caution…and someone even talks about planting a bomb. And Thaksin, he gets a mention too. It is worth a look; if you are inclined to understand some of the other reactions to the Forbes report.
Update 2: Not everyone will be interested but this editorial from Thai Post is the first serious response I have seen. Thaksin, of course, is included as a big part of the story: the “attack on the institution”.
The Crown Property Bureau also stated that it leases most of its land at low prices to state agencies, nongovernmental organisations, for community housing and shophouses.
Only about 7% of its land is leased at commercial prices.
The Foreign Ministry added that the report’s reference to His Majesty the King and the 2006 military coup was also incorrect.
The King had no role in the military intervention that took place in September 2006. As the head of state, according to the constitution, royal assent is required for important matters of state. The King’s royal assent by signature to the order appointing the chairman of the Council for Democratic Reform was a pro forma exercise of functions assigned to a constitutional monarch.
Forbes said in its report that the Crown Property Bureau granted unprecedented access to its assets this year, revealing vast landholdings, including 3,493 acres, or about 8,732 rai, in Bangkok.
Forbes called it a good year for monarchs, investment-wise. ‘‘As a group, the world’s 15 richest royals have increased their total wealth to $131 billion, up from $95 billion last year,’’ it said.
With oil prices soaring, monarchs from the Middle East and Asia dominate the list. Sheik Khalifa, 60, the head of the United Arab Emirates, was estimated to be worth $23 billion, on the back of Abu Dhabi’s huge petroleum reserves.
In third place was the sovereign of the world’s biggest oil exporter, Saudi Arabia. King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, 84, who inherited the Al-Saud family throne in 2005, has $21 billion.
The previous king of kings, wealthwise, Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei, fell to fourth with $20 billion.
Fifth was Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid of Dubai, with $18 billion.
One of two Europeans on the list, Prince Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein, ranked six on the list with $5 billion.
Qatar’s Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani came seventh, with $2 billion. Eighth was King Mohammed VI of Morocco, his $1.5 billion fortune based on phosphate mining, agriculture and other investments.
Number nine was Prince Albert II of Monaco, 50, his diverse fortune in the southern European principality put at $1.4 billion. (Bangkok Post and Agencies)
Earlier report: (BangkokPost.com) – His Majesty the King is the world’s richest royal sovereign, Forbes magazine claimed on Friday. His Majesty, the world’s longest-serving head of the state, has an estimated fortune of $35 billion.
According to Forbes, His Majesty was pushed to the top of the richest royals list by virtue of a greater transparency surrounding his fortune.
It said the Crown Property Bureau, which manages most of wealth of the Thai royal family, “granted unprecedented access this year, revealing vast landholdings, including 3,493 acres (about 8,750 rai, or 1,400 hectares) in Bangkok.”
Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi came in second. He currently serves as president of the United Arab Emirates, Sheik Khalifa, 60, was estimated to be worth $23 billion, on the back of Abu Dhabi’s huge petroleum reserves.
In third was the sovereign of the world’s biggest oil exporter, Saudi Arabia. King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, 84, who inherited the Al-Saud family throne in 2005, came in with a fortune of $21 billion.
The previous king of kings, Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, 62, of Brunei, fell to fourth place with $20 billion.
“The sultan, who inherited the riches of an unbroken 600-year-old Muslim dynasty, has had to cut back on his country’s oil production because of depleting reserves,” Forbes explained of his “dwindling” fortune of “only” $20,000 million.