Forbes lists the world's richest monarchs, and Bhumibol of Thailand once again tops the list, just as he did last year.
No. 1 on our list, for the second year in a row, is Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej. He is worth $30 billion, $5 billion less than last year, as a result of double-digit declines in real estate and stocks owned via the Crown Property Bureau, the state investment vehicle of which he is a trustee. Rising political tensions have also destabilized the country, dampening even the important tourism sector.
Fonzi at Thailand Jumped the Shark adds his, er, unique perspective.
The irony of the hypocritical royalists is that they will say publically to the foreign press that CPB and its assets don't belong to the monarchy, yet at the same time these same people would never in a million years challenge the notion that the assets don't belong to the monarchy and advocate state confiscation of the wealth in support of the people..
For example, you will never hear a royalist go up to HMTK and say we are going to use CPB assets to build schools or hospitals, because for all intents and purposes it is the king's money and he can do with it whatever he pleases. The choices of what to do with the money are ultimately up to the king, not to the people and their representatives.
And there is not one person who would challenge the notion that the king can do whatever he wants with the assets.
Personally, I don't care one way or the other. But let us cut through the bull.
The royalist propagandists hate stories like this because for the last 60 years they have been promoting the idea that the king is poor. That is the only reason they go into hysterics over this story
Political Prisoners in Thailand has this to add:
Forbes reports: “No. 1 on our list, for the second year in a row, is Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej. He is worth $30 billion, $5 billion less than last year, as a result of double-digit declines in real estate and stocks owned via the Crown Property Bureau, the state investment vehicle of which he is a trustee. Rising political tensions have also destabilized the country, dampening even the important tourism sector.”
No doubt the statement that the Crown Property Bureau is a “state investment vehicle of which he [the king] is a trustee” is pandering to the mock outrage last year when the Bureau and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs tried to claim that the Bureau was somehow a state entity and for the people of Thailand rather than the monarchy itself. These flunkies also challenged the methodology, but had no evidence for their claims in this area.
Claiming that the Crown Property Bureau is a state investment vehicle is an absolute falsehood in law and in practice. Not even the Bureau itself has previously made such a claim at their website, but maybe they’ll soon update it to reflect this bit of propaganda.
As debates at Bangkok Pundit and New Mandala show, the Bureau is essentially under the control of the crown. And, as one correspondent to the latter points out, this is legally the case. Also at New Mandala, another correspondent rightly points out that the listing of wealth for the Thai monarchy is undoubtedly understated as the Forbes figure does not include personal wealth and holdings or the extensive holdings of the Chai Pattana Foundation. Neither of these has ever been adequately reported.
Part of the political struggle over the past 5-6 years in Thailand has been about protecting and enhancing the monarchy’s great wealth and the influence that flows from that. Clearly, if one asks who rules Thailand economically and politically, one needs to begin with the palace.