The anonymous Political Prisoners in Thailand has been online since early 2009. Its special brand of critical commentary and social activism has won it many fans. I have no doubt that there are also those who find its coverage of Thai political matters hard to stomach. More than most English-language websites it has experienced a fair degree of official attention and, as I understand the situation, is still sporadically blocked in Thailand.
While the bulk of its coverage deals explicitly with politically-motivated legal accusations, prosecutions and incarcerations, it also examines a wider set of issues with a particular focus on royal news and palace politics.
Recently Political Prisoners in Thailand turned its attention to King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s 13-month hospitalisation in the following terms:
…to speculate on the king’s health and why he might choose to stay in hospital for such an inordinate time would be lese majeste…
…It is not clear why there isn’t some statement from the royal household about the king’s condition…
…PPT [Political Prisoners in Thailand] would surmise that the king, at his age and with a history of illnesses, is essentially in long-term care. The question that arises, though, is this: why isn’t this care arranged at one of the king’s palaces? That would be easy to do for someone in his position. Then why Siriraj for all this time? Is there another reason for wanting to stay there? Psychological? Ideological? We leave readers to speculate about this odd situation.
There was a time when King Bhumibol’s hospital stay was widely discussed, mostly because it was assumed that his health was precarious and could have been fading rapidly. That no longer appears to be the key assumption. Nonetheless, any discussion of such issues still sails very close to the prevailing legal winds in Thailand. It takes a certain kind of courage to discuss King Bhumibol’s hospitalisation. But is there any topic that is likely to prove more pivotal to Thailand’s immediate prospects?
For analysts, academics and journalists Political Prisoners in Thailand has raised an interesting, and probably very important, set of issues. I certainly don’t pretend to have any answers but I appreciate that we can still ask these questions.