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Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn under Political, Tax Scrutiny in Germany

February 14, 2022, 11.11 PM - Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn is facing fresh controversy in Germany as local investigators are reportedly looking into whether he has paid the correct property and inheritance taxes in Bavaria, where the Southeast Asian monarch spends much of his time.

King Vajiralongkorn, a controversial figure at home in Thailand, came under attack from Berlin in October 2020 when Germany's then-Foreign Minister Heiko Maas publicly warned the king that "politics concerning Thailand is not to be done from German soil." He added that Germany "would always oppose having guests in our country who run their state affairs from here."

Afterward, the German government said it was satisfied by assurances that King Vajiralongkorn was not conducting official Thai business in Germany, and tempers were somewhat calmed as the monarch stayed away from Germany throughout much of 2021. But attention to the king's activity has been back on the table ever since was spotted in Germany last November.

Interest renewed after return to Germany

"It is simply naive for the German government to assume that King Vajiralongkorn, who spends much of the year in Germany, is not conducting political affairs from here," said Sevim Dagdelen, member of the Left Party and part of the German parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee.

"Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock must declare the Thai king a persona non grata if she wants to prevent him from continuing to order massive human rights violations in Thailand while in Germany," she told DW.

Also readAnti-Government Protests Grow Again in Thailand

The Thai king owns a purported 10 million euros ($11.3 million) home in the lakeside town of Tutzing and spends much of his time at the glitzy Sonnenbichl Hotel in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. His extended absences have been a source of much controversy back home.

In early 2020, mass pro-democracy protests against the country's government, composed of the military generals who took power in a 2014 coup, erupted in the capital Bangkok. Even though criticizing the monarchy is punishable by decades in jail, demonstrators began to also call for reforms to the monarchy, breaking a very-old taboo.

Hundreds of people were arrested and Thailand's constitutional court said the protestors were attempting to overthrow the monarchy, whereas most were simply demanding limits on it.

Unlike his father — the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who reigned from 1946 until his death in 2016 — Vajiralongkorn cuts a controversial figure. Since taking the throne, he has assumed greater powers for the monarchy, been far more engaged in politics, and has struggled to connect with ordinary Thais.

Photos of him scantily clad and surrounded by his vast harem of women have spread on social media, and many of the photos were taken of him while in Germany.

'Things are pretty much the same'

"Thais are frustrated but the king doesn't care. Things are pretty much the same now as before the protests," said Pavin Chachavalpongpun, associate professor at Kyoto University's Center for Southeast Asian Studies.

Also readTwo Smuggled Sumatran Orangutans Return to Indonesia from Thailand


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