But as the persistent pro-Thaksin red-shirt rallies show, the country is divided as deeply as it ever was, with King Bhumibol in no medical state to play peacemaker-cum-powerbroker. His son and notional heir, Prince Vajiralongkorn, is also virtually absent and, in any event, lacks the reverence and moral authority of his father among Thais. Indeed, many see him as having suspiciously close links to Thaksin, who is positioning himself as a rallying point for closet republicans who’d like nothing more than to topple the aristocracy. Thailand’s neighbours find these intrigues alarming.

– Extracted from Eric Ellis, “Thailand’s royal ill-health threatens to infect ASEAN”, The Sydney Morning Herald, 31 March 2010.