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Thailand & Nepal: Const. Monarchies In Turmoil

Thailand And Nepal: Constitutional Monarchies In Turmoil


By Shashi Malla

It is quite possible that a few years hence, we will look back to the present political events as a period of not only constitutional waywardness, but that of misadventure. A lack of visionary leadership has nolens volens thrown us regressively on the path of political development.

It was with a lot of joy (for the Thais), sadness (for us) and envy, therefore, that this present writer observed the grand celebrations of the 60 th enthronement of Thai King Bhumibol Aduladej in Bangkok. In the beginning, it was not at all clear that the monarchy would at all last or be so beloved of the Thai people. In the intervening years, the Thai monarch has undoubtedly won the hearts and minds of his people.

In Nepal, a section of the left and extreme left are undoubtedly clamouring for the abolition of the monarchy. They think only of the present and how to gain political leverage in the tug-of-war of dirty politics. They have discarded the past and the great achievements of the Shah dynasty in creating and unifying the nation. And they are so short-sighted as to ignore the future and the fate of the nation and of our children and our children's children. Constitutional monarchy is functioning well in many parts of Europe and Asia; why should it not work well in our country? The present supreme parliament and government are truly guilty of various hasty decisions.

In Thailand, the army putsched several times and ruled autocratically. But orderly government was restored again and again and the monarchy played always a positive role. In the euphoria of establishing löktantra or 'total' democracy (which is impossible to achieve and, therefore outrageously idiotic and only calculated to fool the people totally) in Nepal, it should not be forgotten that it was not King Gyanendra who initiated the dissolution of parliament. He never wanted to reign and rule. It was the political dons and the political parties that wanted to govern without elections and thereby introduced chaotic politics. Under the Constitution, he was forced to act in order to restore law and order. Have we already forgotten the halcyon days of bandhs and blockades? The path chosen by the King was not successful; but this was no reason to make him and the monarchy responsible for all the ills of society retrospectively.

Maoist supremo Prachanda in his interview with Kantipur TV very clearly pointed out that it was the political parties that had started the repressive action against the Maoist rebels. He even conceded that King Birendra was of nationalistic bent and had sent out feelers through his youngest brother Dhirendra to defuse the conflict. It just shows that the monarchy was way ahead of the political parties as far as national reconciliation was concerned. Why then the virulent hate campaign against the monarchy now? There must definitely be other ulterior motives in the game plan.

Chairman of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), Pushpa Kamal Dahal, aka Prachanda also complained very bitterly that the former agitating seven-party alliance has taken all the credit for the success of the 'people's movement' and left the Maoists out in the cold. What has clearly emerged now is that the so-called people's movement was neither genuine and didn't have mass base. It was, in fact, masterminded surreptitiously by the Maoists and some interested foreign powers. Since the present government and its all-powerful supreme parliament claim legitimacy from the said 'mass democratic movement', is not their legality and constitutionality suspect and tainted?

But, unfortunately, we cannot put the clock back. Thailand also faces political turbulence, because PM Thaksin Shinawatra and his Rak Thai party have been accused of shady deals. The King has had to appeal for calm and to avoid actions detrimental to national unity.

In Nepal, there is no one to stop our headstrong politicians. Hopefully, they will come to reason, reject the now obsolete Maoist demands and avoid the headlong dash to the chasm of chaos.

*************

(After a short visit to Thailand, he is currently in Germany.)

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