King Bhumibol, the world's longest-serving monarch, was crowned on May 5, 1950, at a time when the monarchy was weak and vulnerable. In 1932, what is believed to be Thailand's first military coup ended 150 years of absolute monarchy under the current Chakri dynasty and changed the face of Thai politics.
For the next 20 years, Thais lived in fear that their monarchy might actually become extinct. Its long existence had transformed the institution into one of the main pillars of the Thai state. Therefore, for Thais, living without a king was, and is, almost unimaginable.
But the fear gradually subsided as King Bhumibol embarked on a lifelong project to turn the marginalised monarchy into what American journalist Paul Handley has described as the single most powerful component of the modern Thai state.
Regarded by the Thais as semi-divine, King Bhumibol has emerged as a guarantor of stability, occasionally intervening directly in times of political crisis. On occasion, his interventions have stopped the bloodletting between political opponents. The footage of General Suchinda Kraprayoon, a general-turned-prime minister who was one of the leaders of the February 1991 coup, and his opponent Chamlong Srimuang, leader of anti-military demonstrators, prostrating themselves before the King in May 1992 is one of the most memorable images in modern Thai history.
The Supreme Court is a perfectly English idea
Don’t let them tell you this is another American import. It is modelled on the free democracy of Britain in the 18th century
In 1729, Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu, arrived in England. By then, he was well into his Grand Tour, studying the political systems of Italy, Germany and the Netherlands. But he was most interested in England since it was here, as Voltaire had suggested, liberty was at its fullest. And Montesquieu was not disappointed. “England is at present the country in the world where there is the greatest freedom,” he wrote in his Pensées.
Seeking to understand the foundations of such freedoms, Montesquieu threw himself into British public life. He sat through interminable debates in Parliament between Robert Walpole and his foes, mingled at the court of George II, was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, and declared himself amazed at both the stupidity of the English aristocracy and their childish love of practical jokes (one of which involved Montesquieu, at a country house party, falling through a false floor into a bath of cold water).
But what really impressed Montesquieu was English freedom. In contrast to the fearful royal absolutism of Louis XV’s France, the English enjoyed the right to worship, trade and speak their minds. And this was the direct product, Montesquieu thought, of the English constitution’s separation of powers. It was an idea he was led to appreciate by Viscount Bolingbroke, the Tory philosopher-politician. An opponent of Walpole, Bolingbroke had long accused the King and his ministers of undermining Parliament by buying off MPs. “In a constitution like ours, the safety of the whole depends upon the balance of the parts, and the balance of the parts on their mutual independency on each other.”
From the Bosphorus - Straight : Osman Ertuğrul: 1912 -- 2009
Over the weekend, Turkey laid to rest its last man in the direct line of accession to the Ottoman throne, Osman Ertuğrul who died last week at the age of 97. The complexity of Turkey’s relationship with the dynasty of an abolished monarchy was reflected in the attendence at Saturday’s funeral. As our story today notes, many leading political figures were there as well as religious figures. The industrial Koç family came. So did Yaşar Kemal, the leftist writer and intellectual. As one newspaper noted, perhaps only Ertuğrul in death could assemble such a diverse gathering in life....
On the concept of monarchy: “A monarch is brought up to reign and can be the right person, as he doesn't owe anything to anybody because he is not elected. But on the other hand he may be an idiot.”
Ferry tragedy 'may fuel democracy push'
Mateni Tapu'eluelu, of pro-democracy newspaper Kele'a, has clear memories of the 2006 pro-democracy riots in the capital Nuku'alofa in which eight people died and more than $100 million in damage was caused.
They were the most violent civil protests ever seen in the Pacific and were fuelled by Tongans' anger that the country's move away from the monarchy and towards a more democratic political system was taking too long.
Tongans now had more reason than ever to seek a change of government, Mr Tapu'eluelu said.
Wait, they should switch to democracy because people who want it kill a lot of people in their rallies?
He said the people were very aware the king had left the country when they needed him most.
"The people will look at the monarchy as not the kind of system that will provide them with proper leadership during a crisis like this.
"The calling now is for democracy and making sure that it does happen as soon as possible."
Nepal's Deposed King Gyanendra Expresses Concern About Country
A year after he stepped down, Nepal's deposed King Gyanendra has expressed concern about his country. The end of the monarchy had raised hopes of bringing political stability to the tiny nation, wracked for a decade by a Maoist rebellion.
...Wait, by ending the legitimate government and giving in to the people who were causing the trouble, they hoped to attain stability?
The king handed power to political parties in 2006, following weeks of street protests. This paved the way for Maoist rebels to end a violent insurgency, sign a peace deal and come to power.
They had the opportunity to stop being violent, because violence had finally given them what they wanted! How nice!
Ex-king "very perturbed" at turn of Nepal events
Nepal's deposed King Gyanendra said he was "very perturbed" at the lack of progress in establishing peace and prosperity for the people of the Himalayan nation a year after the end of the monarchy.
Ending monarchy doesn't bring peace or prosperity. Who knew?