Discussing the Thai King
The book is written almost Thai style, with court intrigues and the stuff that goes into telling a Thai story. In a sense, how else would you tell a Thai story? Unanswered historical incidences, the pampering of his son by the queen, the status of his eldest daughter and everything that contributes to where Thailand really stands today, both as a monarchical society and as a modern economy.
Was Handley biased in any way? I would say, if biased, then necessarily so as to draw out the issues that must be discussed to be understood.
Must read to understand.
PS: Having said that, a number of monarchies in the region must be demystified in order to discuss their countries in a constructive manner. If anyone asks me which country in the world I like the least, I would certainly say, Brunei Darrusalam. Here is a country where the king is one of the richest people in the world, but he would not even invest his money in his own country, and his people are basically lost in terms of what they can achieve. For the longest time, there was no reason to argue with the fact that the average Bruneian really had nowhere to go or to do or achieve. But now that several Arab countries – in the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait – have started inviting global expertise to help diversify and deepen their economies, the question must be asked – what is the Sultan of Brunei doing with his 300,000 people? Is it in his interest to keep them docile and disenfranchised? Not any more, I should think.