After watching Weekend at Bernie’s, PPT reading bits of The Nation to find yet another piece of royalist nonsense and, we guess, more funding of royalist symbolism by unknowing taxpayers. How many anniversaries can the palace’s propagandists come up with? In this case, inflicting it on New Zealanders, the “Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra is off to New Zealand next week to perform three shows next week in celebration of the golden jubilee of His Majesty the King of Thailand’s visit to the ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’.” The orchestra has 85 musicians and a large number of others who will also travel to New Zealand.
Yes, 1962, when New Zealand was a tiny place and an anti-communist ally of the United States and, by extension, military-run Thailand. It was that military regime, supported by the king, that sent him around the world, touting Thailand as a front line state in Cold War.
There’s a little information on the 1962 visit here. This was on the same visit that saw demonstrations in Australia and the refusal of faculty at the Australian National University to confer an honorary degree on the king.
On this visit, Noppadon Theppitak, Thailand’s ambassador to New Zealand, Tonga and Samoa says: “We are trying to get away from the purely Asian side of Thai culture and are therefore not presenting through muay thai, traditional Thai dance or khon [masked dance]. Instead, we will be showing the New Zealand people that Thai musicians are every bit as talented as their Western counterparts and we will also be honouring our monarch’s natural musical abilities by playing some of his compositions…”. This is the great man line that the palace endlessly pushes.
Apparently the visit falls under the jurisdiction of a man who comes from the “Land of the Small White Lie,” Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Kittiratt Na Ranong. You would guess that the event would be open to the public, but apparently not: “The Thai ambassador says that the audience for the concerts will be made up of government officers, businessmen, the diplomatic corps and Thais living in New Zealand.” An audience of the trusted perhaps. That seems little “return” after doling out airfares for probably more than 100 persons, transport of equipment, accommodation and so on.
Just in case Kiwis forget that this is all about a little remembered visit, a “photo exhibition of His Majesty the King touring New Zealand between August 18 and 26, 1962 will also be shown, with images of his stops in Auckland, Wellington, Dunedin and Christchurch.”
How many more anniversaries can the palace propaganda machine conjure up? They seem remarkably adept at finding ways to use taxpayer funds to promote a vision of “royalist Thailand” and of the monarchy itself.
We can’t help wondering, though, if anyone in New Zealand is likely to point out that at the very time of this hugely expensive celebration for an ailing and old king, a New Zealand citizen is currently languishing in a Thai mental hospital, prevented from leaving the country and returning to New Zealand, accused of insulting the king. That’s a charge that could land her in jail for many years.