Monday, January 25, 2021

Thai king should not rule his country from here, says Germany’s foreign minister

Thais are regularly on Bangkok streets protesting about his prolonged absences from Thailand and the cost of his life in Germany.

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Germany’s foreign minister Heiko Maas said on Wednesday that Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn should not be conducting politics from Germany, where he spends much of his time, Reuters is reporting.

King Vajiralongkorn, 68, has ruled Thailand since 2016, but spends most of his time in Bavaria, where his 15-year-old son goes to school.

Thai protesters regularly demonstrate on the streets of Bangkok about his prolonged absences from Thailand and the cost of his life in Germany.

“We have made it clear that politics concerning Thailand should not be conducted from German soil,” Maas told parliament. “If there are guests in our country that conduct their state business from here we would always want to act to counteract that.”

Parliamentarian Frithjof Schmidt then asked Maas whether Germany was prepared to discuss with the European Union freezing free trade talks with Thailand again “as long as the junta continues to block the path to democracy in Thailand”.

Maas said that halting negotiations was an option to exert pressure, but it would be right to discuss the matter with Thailand first.

King Vajiralongkorn was educated in Britain and Australia, and has been married four times. Because of Thailand’s strict laws concerning the royal family, very little of substance is known about him. His relationship with Germany remains the source of much speculation and criticism.

Right now the monarchy is facing unprecedented calls for reform from growing numbers of protesters in Thailand.

Reuters asked for comment from the royal palace in Bangkok and the Thai government but neither has yet responded.

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