In past years, the king has used the speech to send out certain signals and messages of how he evaluated the efficiency and the work ethics of the incumbent government. As Thailand’s political situation has gone from bad to worse, any statement from him has become increasingly significant and undoubtedly politicised. The speech on Dec. 4, abbreviated as it was and confined to platitudes about working together, was a disappointment.

By not delivering a more complete address, he has kept Thai society guessing on how and what he has been thinking about the perturbing political situation. Unfortunately, his silence could further engender a negative impact.

Thais are wondering and even worrying, about the imminent royal succession, which remains a taboo subject in Thailand. Any discussion that could be interpreted as criticizing or insulting the royal institution makes Thais and foreigners alike dare a heavy jail term, according to the stiff lèse-majesté law. At this critical moment in Thai politics however, not knowing about what will happen in the event of the royal transition could prove counterproductive.

From The Thai Monarch’s Birthday Address by Pavin Chachavalpongpun.