Not knowing, or being bad?

From Manager, October 2, 2013
Yaowapha Wongsawat: Is what Brother Sin asks Nong Poo to do too risky? [Yaowapha is the sister of Thaksin Shinawatra and elder sister of Premier Yingluck Shinawatra. She is a Pheu Thai MP and one of the most powerful people in the government. “Poo,” meaning “crab” in Thai, is the nickname for PM Yingluck. “Brother Sin” is a nickname for Thaksin using the style of making a nickname from the last syllable of a name.]
Thaksin Shinawatra: She doesn’t know, Daeng, that it’s risky. [“Daeng” is nickname of Yaowapha.]
Caption: Not knowing due to stupidity… or knowing it, but being bad?

[This cartoon refers to the decision to have Prime Minister Yingluck present a constitutional amendment bill to the monarch for signing despite legal challenges that were going to be filed against it in the courts.

The point here is a concept somewhat unusual to the non-Thai. In practice the monarchy functions as a rubber stamp, always countersigning government documents and lending them legitimacy. Thus, officials are under pressure never to present documents to the monarchy for signing that would have to be refused–such as an unlawful transfer or a critical document still under legal review. The presentation of such documents would be seen as daring the monarchy to take a side by refusing or delaying.

So the Pheu Thai government’s submitting of an amendment that has not cleared judicial review (and which the opposition contends is an attempt to solidify the government’s hold on power–and which was later ruled unconstitutional) is thought of as a brazen attempt to force through something that the government desperately wants passed. In doing so, it puts the monarchy into a position of not being able to fulfill its ceremonial position of passively countersigning bills. Even a perceived delay in signing opens the institution to the perception that it is involved in politics or has overstepped its powers (such a discussion was raised during the auditor-general removal scandal during Thaksin’s time as prime minister). Understanding this makes clear the necessity for the Red Shirt’s threatening remarks over the years. Their rhetoric heightens the risk for the monarchy if it delays or refuses to sign by feeding into Red Shirt claims.

The cartoonist contends that Yingluck’s submitting of the bills shows a sense of impoliteness and crassness that violates the unspoken conventions by which politicians should not pressure the monarchy. It is this alleged breach of protocol and deference that was behind calls for the prime minister to resign once the courts deemed the bill she tried to submit unconstitutional.

Of course, there is no chance the PM will step down and the anti-Thaksin opposition will add this incident to the list of perceived slights against the monarchy stemming from Shinawatra family rule.]

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