Back in May 2010 I canvassed some of the “assumptions about the next in line” to Thailand’s throne. I questioned whether the prevailing consensus that Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn will be the next monarch is the full story when his support among factions of the elite is taken into consideration. More specifically I wrote that:
…I fail to see how the constant and hysterical attacks on the Red shirts over the past few years could be strategic unless there is significant fear, among Thailand’s highest echelons, that the succession plan (whatever it is) will be interrupted by Thaksin-aligned politicians.
Now, with Wikileaks providing the public with unexpected and unprecedented access to recent United States government communications, we are starting to see just how much support the Crown Prince actually has among Thailand’s highest echelons.
The Guardian has the story: it is headlined “Thai leaders doubt suitability of prince to become king”. It couldn’t be much more blunt. And the details in the raw cable, while not exactly news to seasoned Thailand-watchers, are so potent that there will, surely, be repercussions from this latest release. Somewhat notably (given wise redactions in cables about, for instance, Burma) this particular cable names names and puts in context a range of matters that have, until now, been the subject of quiet speculation alone.
These are potentially explosive revelations and so I imagine they will get little, if any, public airing in Thailand. But they will receive ferocious scrutiny elsewhere in the world and in Thailand I have no doubt that they are already informing many whispered conversations. Their release may also make life difficult for United States officials. I can only imagine the headaches this latest exposure is causing around Bangkok this morning although there were probably already significant efforts underway to warn the relevant people about what was likely to be released.
The Guardian is also soliciting queries from readers about what they would like to see examined next. One reader, for instance, has previously asked “for mention of the Thai royals in connection with the 2006 coup”. The process for sending in queries is as follows:
To make further suggestions, tweet @GdnCables with as many specifics as possible (names, dates, embassies). Twitter refuseniks can email [email protected] with the same specific information in the subject field, but please keep the rest of the message short.
I’m sure that among New Mandala readers there are some dates, names and places that you would like to see checked closely. To give you an idea, a selection of previous Thailand-related suggestions for The Guardian to check is available here.
Of course, for Thailand, and for many other countries, we have only seen a tiny fraction of the leaked cables. And as I have asked as a means of concluding previous posts about the implications of Wikileaks for mainland Southeast Asia: what next?