The King of Thailand has been a curious source of scrutiny since his ascent to the throne in 2016. “Regarding Thaksin, it had to be either a coup or an assassination,” a former moderate Thai member of parliament told me in 2014, expressing the commonly held middle- and upper-class fear that even though Thaksin had been legally elected, he would turn out to be a dictator impossible to remove. King Maha Vajiralongkorn of Thailand is reportedly staying in a four-star hotel in the Bavarian Alps while most of Germany's hotels remain closed to tourists during the coronavirus outbreak. Now, insulting the monarchy of Thailand is actually considered a serious crime, so we’re going to go easy on this inked king and his stupid crop top. It far outweighs all other considerations, such as the size of the tattoo, or the speed the tattoo artist completes his work, or indeed – the price. But that doesn’t mean he’s detached from politics back home. In a country where polygamy has been banned for 100 years, the king seemed to be saying that a kind of polygamy would be a prerogative of the monarch (and nobody else). Thailand's New Playboy King, Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn, had a poodle named Foo Foo and sports tattoos and crop tops King Maha Vajiralongkorn, 68, … A two-foot long bamboo stick or needle is needed to carry out this ancient tattoo art form; it is jabbed into a person’s skin over and over until the design is complete. ; The hotel received special permission from local authorities to open for the king and his entourage of 20 women, The Times of London reported. He’s also embarked on a massive building campaign in the central Dusit district of Bangkok, where the monarchy holds real estate of such dimensions as to make the British royal family’s compounds seem small. “It’s all a way of making his power formal, visible,” one person whispered to me. We’d like to think his friends call him “Bodi,” if he has any. All of this would be far more difficult, maybe even impossible, if there were widespread public opposition. These Thai tattoos have a magical and religious meaning when you get one. Thais who know about such things say his army is equipped with armored personnel carriers, anti-riot gear, and helicopters. The threat of the US withdrawing its support is less serious.”, “China is not democratic,” he continued, “but it’s able to deliver fast economic growth, and people feel that if this can happen, what’s the need for democracy?”. STROLLING in a German shopping centre, covered in tattoos and wearing a preposterous yellow crop top, the scruffy guy looked about as far from … But, as Rungsila and people like him acknowledge, Thailand’s turn to authoritarianism has also been welcomed and supported by many people who experienced the intermittent turbulence and violence of the years before the 2014 coup, and who give credit to the military and the monarchy for the return of domestic “peace and order,” as the propaganda put it at the time. It’s all about the quality. The man once infamous for his mistresses, crop tops, and presumably fake tattoos now looks out sternly from portraits placed all over Thailand, dressed in kingly gold-brocaded robes or a trim white jacket with epaulets, a yellow sash, and a sword. That’s the way they make people give up.”. Richard Bernstein is a former foreign correspondent at Time magazine and the New York Times. Why, it’s none other than the king himself, Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun. It started in 2001 when a rich, charismatic populist, Thaksin Shinawatra, was elected prime minister via overwhelming support from the rural poor in the north and northeast of the country. Thailand’s playboy king isn’t playing around, Sineenat was accused of ingratitude and misbehavior, the disappearances and apparent killings of at least eight leading opposition figures, China 1945: Mao’s Revolution and America’s Fateful Choice. In Thai society, the king is a figure of inestimable importance, a Hindu-Buddhist paragon of presumed dignity, virtue, and morality — none of which Vajiralongkorn seemed to be exhibiting on his stroll through the mall. He’s taken control of an estimated $43 billion in royal assets that have for decades been entrusted to a Crown Property Bureau that, at least theoretically, managed the money for the benefit of the Thai people. 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