And question marks over the health of the country’s revered king, who is 82 and has been in hospital for four months, have amplified the sense of uncertainty. King Bhumibol Adulyadej has been on the throne for 64 years, and has been a vital point of stability as Thailand navigated the turbulence of the vast economic and social changes that have transformed the country in recent decades.

Many analysts fear his departure will unleash pent-up desires for change that the country’s weakened institutions will find difficult to control.

– Extracted from Tim Johnston, “Thailand relaxes rules to gain listings”, Financial Times, 31 January 2010. An earlier New Mandala post was also titled “The sum of all fears”.