During my time in Chiang Mai I learned how different many Thais see the king and his son, the crown prince. Thais absolutely adore their king and his picture is literally everywhere. Apparently the guy did a lot of good things for the people during his reign and he keeps donating money to charitable causes.
Forbes estimates his personal fortune to be USD 30 billion so I guess he has a few Baht to spare. How he amounted such a sum, roughly 10% of Thailand’s GDP, is probably an interesting story but none to be discussed openly in Thailand. The king and his family are protected by lèse majesté which forbids any criticism directed at them.
That law doesn’t stop the Thais from talking royal matters in privacy though. The king’s son is a frequent target of criticism and many disagree with his lifestyle. He’s married for the second time now and fathered half a dozen bastards in between.
A few years ago a video circulated that showed the birthday party of the prince’s dog. It was bad enough that the party was a decadent feast but the fact that the princess was topless the whole time really upset people.
As the king is approaching 90 years of age, it is only a matter of time before his son will take over the throne. There is a lot of international concern about this, not only because large parts of the population dislike him. He’s also considered a spoiled brat and unfit to rule.
Thailand is a country where the police is ordered to kill people that are in the way of higher-ups. Imagine what happens when you piss of the prince. And image what could happen if he had an army at his disposal.
Reading about people like the Thai prince make me glad to be citizen of a western democracy. Yes, there is a lot of things going wrong in Germany but at least it’s not that bad.
The prince made it to the media in Germany when his jet (Boing 737) was impounded by officials last year. The Thai government owed a German company more than $40m and the bailiffs happily put their seal on the plane. The jet was eventually released after the money was paid by the Thai government. A lot of money you think? What’s $40m when you have $30b.