A couple of days ago Reuters put together a summary of “five key Asian political risk themes”.
Hidden among the consolidated insights on Japan’s new government, Chinese trade, corruption in Indonesia, and India-Pakistan relations, is a short blurb about the “health of Thailand’s king”. Reuters reports that “[m]any Thais and political risk analysts fear a focus on succession amid an already inflamed political climate could be destabilising”.
This is an awkward way of putting it. Surely the real fear is that the succession, and everything it means, could be destabilising.
There has long been a focus on the succession, mostly because there remains a perception that the issue is unresolved. Some of these half a million web pages have something to say about it (and so do these ones). These days many of my conversations about Thailand’s political and economic prospects swing, without surprise, on to the murky terrain of “what happens next”. Of course none of this speculation (however well meaning) should be taken too seriously. “Predictive social science”, whatever that might look like, is still a long way off!
From where I sit, and from trawling around mainland Southeast Asia’s dozens of difficult analytical issues, Thailand’s succession strikes me as the one that is still surrounded by the most tension. It is only natural, under the circumstances, that different interpretations will help to illuminate an issue that continues to cause concern in Bangkok and further afield.