Stevenson on King Bhumibol

[King Bhumibol's] mother commanded such enormous respect among Thais that, if she were still alive, I believe her only surviving son, despite his illness, would yet find the strength to act as mediator. But his former chief of military intelligence, a graduate of a British military academy, a brave man who fought alongside Special Forces in Malaysia and then coaxed the local Communist Chinese leader to work in harmony with the Thai government, recently told me of widespread fears that Bhumibol’s death will mark the end of the dynasty.

This same Thai intelligence general has had to go through enormous subterfuge to stay in touch with me because all communications with the outside world are monitored. The harshest penalties are inflicted on anyone who comments on the dynasty’s future if the Crown Prince succeeds Bhumibol.

- Extracted from William Stevenson, “Thailand’s silent monarch“, The Star, 24 May 2010.