Was Prem Tinsulonanda a hero or scoundrel? Reactions are split.

A single man’s very long time in power encapsulates Thailand’s fractured consensus. Reactions to his death are split.
A single man’s very long time in power encapsulates Thailand’s fractured consensus. Reactions to his death are split.

To some, he was a political hero who safeguarded the nation’s critical institutions. To others, he was an authoritarian who enabled dictators.

While official reactions and condolences poured in following the demise of top royal adviser Prem Tinsulonanda, who died yesterday at 98, reactions online split along predictable fault lines between those who mourned a loyal servant to the realm and others happy to see it rid of his influence.

Prem Tinsulanonda, power broker and royal councilor, dies at 98

In an era of political conflict when widening swathes of society are growing frustrated with unelected military men, the death of the controversial methuselah looked very different from across the ideological divide.

Twitter user Sirisoml expressed “condolences for the loss of our great leader who had done a million fantastic things for Thailand and Thai people. … My political hero.”

Though most on Twitter wished that Prem would RIP, there was a very vocal segment reveling in the news. To Prem’s critics, he was too eager to inject the military into public life and enabled various authoritarian regimes over the decades.

“If you are a Jew, will you honor Hitler?” the evidently anti-junta @Saiparnsaipanya wrote yesterday on Twitter – comparing the 98-year-old president of the king’s powerful body of advisers to the archvillain of 20th century history.

Above all, Prem will be remembered as a reliable ally of the monarchy.

King Vajiralongkorn issued a statement expressing “sorrow” at the death of the man who’d been his father’s top vizier for two decades, saying that Prem had “worked with loyalty” in his many positions over the years.

This morning, Prayuth praised him as a “great man” via government spokesman Weerachon Sukhontapatipak:

“The president of the Privy Council and statesman was a great man and role model for the Thai people. He was honest, loved his country and always prioritized the public’s needs – all great assets that future generations should follow and apply to their own life.”

Prem died Sunday morning of heart failure in Bangkok.

A seven-day funeral following Buddhist funerary rites will be held at Wat Benchamabophit Dusitwanaram tonight through Sunday.

For more about Prem, read our obituary from yesterday.





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