For a fascinating study of the extent of Thailand’s royal wealth see the two part article appearing in Asia Sentinel. This is an important study of the operation of the Crown Property Bureau. Here is an extract:
… fear of upsetting the monarchy goes a long way to explain why so little has been written about the Crown Property Bureau. King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s golden robe shields the bureau from public criticism, allowing it to oversee a modern form of feudalism with little scrutiny.
More than any institution over the past hundred years, the CPB has shaped Bangkok and in recent years it has only picked up speed. Since recovering from huge debts incurred during the 1997 financial crisis, the CPB has aggressively sought to boost profits from its prime Bangkok land plots, often pushing out poorer shop owners and tenants that have lived on the land for generations.
The ceaseless development of huge malls, hotels and office buildings is rarely debated as the bureau avoids public criticism. When its officials do speak, they simply tout the king’s theory of a sufficiency economy, which preaches moderation, reasonableness and immunity. As the bureau has found, however, the best immunity from an economic downturn is to make sure its birthright properties are yielding large amounts of cash.