Rose on abolishing the monarchy

5 07 2014

The following is from Chatwadee Rose Amornpat‘s Facebook page:

The Misconception of “Lom Chao (ล้มเจ้า)”

ความเข้าใจผิดของคำว่า “ล้มเจ้า”

It looks so fashionable these days, among royalists, to accuse people who seek democracy to “lom chao (ล้มเจ้า)”- one who seeks to abolish the royals!

Those who get accused are, almost always, deny the accusation. It is something of shame to abolish the royals or the monarchy system, so to speak!

I am often confused as to the nervousness of the accused! It seems to me that the best answer to this is accusation should be this: “Is it against the law to abolish the royals or the monarchy system?” or “Why can’t I abolish the royalist system?”

You, guys, please stop denying it! Stop denying the accusations from the Thai royalists! Tell them this, “Yes, I want to crush your royals!”

Here are some of the reasons why I feel Thai royals should be abolished!

1. Because Thai royals have committed so many vicious crimes during the past decades with impunity!

2. Because the top royal, King Bhumipon, based on the available evidence, likely killed his elder brother, King Ananda to become king himself! Here’s the link to this very mysterious regicide case of King Ananda.

3. Because the top royal, King Bhumipon, in the likely collusion with the Thai military, ordered the killing of unarmed and peaceful students and people in all of the pro-democracy movements in the history of Thailand!–73)

4. Because Thai royals have systematically and viciously implant in the mind of the poor and uneducated that they are from heaven and better than the rest of the populace.

This is through their non-stop propaganda media in the news, posters, television and radio- all paid for by taxpayers! Such expenses are extremely wasteful.

King Bhumipon has now created a “personality cult” to be wrongly and undeservedly worshipped by Thai people!

5. Because of Thai royals collect money from the poor people like beggars.

6. Because Thai taxpayers have to pay for their palaces’ expenses such as electricity, water, air-condition including several thousand of royal security guards, fleet of airplanes, helicopters, automobiles and many other expensive items. Please see detail at this link:

7. Because King Bhumipon has been ranked the richest monarch in the world while poor children have to sell flowers and garlands in the streets of Bangkok just to help out their family. Beggars and homeless are everywhere throughout the country.

8. Because Thai education lies in their school text books about world’s views on monarch and democracy.

9. Thai royals and its monarchy network lie to the world and Western media that Thailand is a democratic country with its so-called, “Constitutional Monarchy,” but it is in fact an absolute monarchy with the exception that the King is not responsible for the welfare of the people and the nation. The Thai constitution was written to give all the power to the monarch.

9. Thai and Western media often erroneously hailed that Thai king is so well-loved and revered by the Thai people. But they often fail to state that there is an unjust and uncivilized law protecting the Thai king from criticisms, even if such criticisms are based on the truth! Violation of this barbaric law carries a jail term of 3-15 years for each offence.

This law is called “lese majeste law” under the Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code. Thus one can only praise the king and his family. Therefore, one never knows if the praise is genuine or not. Many people are now in jail or fled the country.

10. Because the following great people of some of these countries have abolished their royals a long time ago:

Russian Emperor Nicholas II in 1917 (97 years ago)

France during French Revolution in 1792 (222 years ago)

Germany – Imperial Germany in 1918 (96 years ago)

The UK – King George VI in 1952 (52 years ago). Now Queen Elizabeth II but no power.

Japan – Emperor Showa in 1926 (88 years ago) Now Emperor Akihito but no power.

China – Last Emperor of China, Emperor Puyi in 1912

Thailand’s neighbors who crushed their last king:

Vietnam – Nguyen Dynasty in 1945 (70 years ago)

Burma – Konbaung Dynasty in 1885 (129 years ago)

Cambodia – Norodom Sihanouk in 2004, now symbolic only but no power. (10 years ago)
Laos – Sisavan Vatthana in 1975 (39 years ago)

I wish to quote the great Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States:

“Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up, and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable – a most sacred right – a right, which we hope and believe, is to liberate the world.” By Abraham Lincoln

Catch you guys later as I’m on my way to Smithsonian Institution and later the Monument. Washington, D.C. is such a beautiful city! USA is truly the Land of the Free!

-Chatwadee Rose Amornpat

ความเข้าใจผิดของคำว่า “ล้มเจ้า

ดูเหมือนว่ามันเป็นสิ่งที่คนคลั่งลัทธิเจ้าชอบกล่าวหาคนที่รักปชต.ว่าเป็นคนล้มเจ้า คำว่าล้มเจ้า หมายความว่า…พวกเราต้องการยอกเลิกระบอบศักดินา เจ้าขุนมูลนาย ไม่มีอะไรมากไปกว่านี้หรอก

คนที่ถูกกล่าวหาก็มักจะปฎิเสธข้อกล่าวหานี้ คล้ายๆกับว่าการล้มเจ้าเป็นเรื่องหน้าอับอายทำนองนั้น

ข้าพเจ้ามีความฉงนสงสัยในความกระวนกระวายใจของผู้ถูกกล่าวหา ความจริงเเล้วข้าพเจ้าคิดว่าคำตอบที่ดีสำหรับข้อกล่าวหานี้ ต้องถามกลับไปว่า ..เฮ้ย การล้มเจ้านี่มันผิดกฎหมายจริงหรือ ? ทำไมฉันจะล้มเจ้าไม่ได้ล่ะ ?


๑.เจ้าไทยทำความชั่วก่ออาชญากรรมมามากมาย ในหลายๆศตวรรษที่ผ่านมาโดยที่ไม่เคยได้รับโทษอะไรเลย

๒.จากหลักฐานต่างๆที่ได้มา ดูเหมือนว่ากษัตริย์ภูมิพลนั่นเเหล่ะที่เป็นคนสังหารอนันดาร.๘ เพื่อที่จะเป็นพระเจ้าเเผ่นดิน เเละเพื่อให้ตัวเองครอบครองราชบัลลังก์

๓.มาเฟียภูมิพลรวมหัวกับเผด็จการทหารไทยสั่งฆ่าประชาชนที่ไร้อาวุธเเละต่อต้านด้วยความสงบเพื่อเรียกร้องปชต.ตามประวัติศาสตร์ไทยที่ผ่านมาทุกครั้ง โปรดดูลิ้งค์ข้างต้นที่นำมาเเปะไว้ให้–73)

๔.ระบอบกษัตริย์ไทยปลูกฝังวัฒนธรรมความเชื่อที่ผิดๆให้กับประชาชนไทยที่ยากจนไร้การศึกษาว่าพวกเขาเป็นเทวดาจากสวรรค์มาจุติบนโลกใบนี้ เเละมีบุญญาธิการมากกว่าประชาชนในประเทศ

๕.เขากระทำการเช่นนี้ด้วยการโฆษณาชวนเชื่อตั้งเเต่เช้าจนตกดึก24/7ในสื่อต่างๆ รวมถึงมีการติดภาพโปรเตอร์ของกษัตริย์เเละราชวงศ์ทั่วทุกมุมเมืองในประเทศไทย มิหนำซ้ำ ประชาชนผู้เสียภาษี เป็นผู้จ่ายค่าโฆษณาชวนเชื่อให้กับกษัตริย์ภูมิพลเเละครอบครัวด้วย

ภูมิพลเเละครอบครัวทำตัวให้เปรียบเสมือนเป็นมนุษย์ที่บรรลุโสดาบัน เพื่อหลอกลวงต้มตุ๋นปชช.ทุกคนในประเทศให้เคารพบูชา

พวกเจ้าทุกคนในราชวงศ์นั้นทำตัวเป็นขอทาน รับเงินการบริจาคจากประชาชนผู้ยากไร้การศึกษาในขณะที่ประชาชนเดินทางไปรับเสด็จ

๖.ประชาชนผู้เสียภาษีจะต้องรับภาระในการจ่ายค่าน้ำค้าไฟ ค่าเเอร์ รวมถึงองค์รัก ค่าเครื่องบิน เฮลิคอปเตอร์ ค่ารถยนต์…ฯลฯ อื่นๆอีกมากมายจากภาษีปชช.ให้กับพวกเจ้า ผู้เห็นเเก่ตัวเเละไร้ยางอายเหล่านี้

๗.เพราะว่ากษัตริย์ภูมิพลได้รับการคัดเลือกให้เป็นกษัตริย์ที่รวยที่สุดในโลก เเต่ในขณะเดียวกัน เด็กน้อยส่วนใหญ่ในวัยเรียนทั่วประเทศ ยังต้องมาทำงานเป็นขอทาน หรือขายพวงมาลัยตามถนนต่างๆในกทม. เพื่อช่วยเหลือครอบครัวที่ยากจน

๘.ระบบการศึกษาไทยโดยเฉพาะอย่างยิ่งในหนังสือเรียน มีการโกหกเหี่ยวกับความเห็นต่างๆของโลกในเรื่องปชต.เเละกษัตริย์ไทย

๙.เจ้าไทยหรือเครือข่ายเจ้าทั้งหลาย โกหกต่อสื่อมวลชนในประเทศไทยเเละในตปท.ว่า..ประเทศไทยปกครองโดยระบอบปชต. เเต่ที่จริงเเล้ว คำว่า อันมีระบอบกษัตริย์เป็นประมุข หรือพูดง่ายๆ มันก็คือ ระบอบสมบูรณาญาสิทธิราช หรือ ราชาธิปไตยนั่นเองนั่นล่ะ

ยกเว้นเเต่ว่ากษัตริย์องค์ปัจจุบันไม่ต้องรับผิดชอบความทุกข์ความสุขของประชาชนชาวไทยเเต่อย่างใด เเต่อำนาจทุกอย่างตกในมือของภูมิพลเพียงเเค่คนเดียว กรุณาดูลิ้งค์ข้างต้นที่เเปะมาให้

๑๐. สื่อวลชนในไทยเเละในตปท.ต่างเรียกกษัตริย์ว่าเป็นที่รักของปชช.ทุกคนทั่วประเทศ …เเต่พวกเขาลืมบอกไปว่าในประเทศไทย

มีกฎหมายฉบับหนึ่งที่เรียกว่ากฎหมายหมิ่นที่ปกป้องกษัตริย์ไม่ให้มีใครวิพากวิจารณ์ได้…ถึงเเม้ว่าการวิจารณ์นั้นจะตั้งอยู่บนรากฐานเเห่งความเป็นจริง..งการทำผิดกฎหมายหมิ่นผู้ได้รับโทษจะต้องถูกจองจำถึง๓-๑๕ปี …

กฎหมายนี้ประชาชนชาวไทยทุกคนจะต้องยกย่อง ชื่นชมเเละชมเชยกษัตริย์เเละครอบครัวเพียงเท่านั้น…ดังนั้นเราจะรู้ได้ยังไงว่าคนที่ยกย่องหรือรักกษัตริย์เเละราชวงศ์จะพูดความจริงทั้งหมดหรือ …


๑๑.เพราะว่าประเทศต่างๆต่อไปนี้ได้ยกเลิก หรือล้มเจ้าของพวกเขาไปนานเเล้ว

รัฐเซียได้ล้มล้างราชวงศ์นิโครัส ๒ ในปี๑๙๑๗ ( ๙๗ ปีที่เเล้วมา)

ประเทศฝรั่งเศสได้ล้มล้างราชวงศ์ของเขาในปีค.ศ. ๑๗๙๒ ( ๒๒๒ ปีที่ผ่านมา)

ประเทศเยอรมันนีล้มล้างราชวงศ์เขาเมื่อปีค.ศ.๑๙๑๘ ( ๙๖ปีที่ผ่านมาเเล้ว)

สหราชอาณาจักรอังกฤษ กำจัดอำนาจจอร์สที่๖ ในค.ศ.๑๙๕๒ ( ๕๒ปีที่ผ่านมาเเล้ว)

ถึงเเม้ว่าประเทศอังกฤษจะมีควีนอลิซาเบธที่๒ เเต่ท่านเเละครอบครัวไม่มีอำนาจที่จะสามารถมายุ่งวุ่นวายทางการการปกครองของรัฐบาลในประเทศอังกฤษทั้งสิ้น

ประเทศญี่ปุ่นยกเลิกราชวงศ์โชว่าเมื่อปีค.ศ.๑๙๒๖ ( ๘๘ปีที่ผ่านมา) ถึงเเม้ว่าเขาจะมีจักพรรดิอากิฮิโต เเต่ท่านไม่มีอำนาจทางการเมืองใดๆทั้งสิ้น

ประเทศจีนได้ล้มล้างราชวงศ์สุดท้ายของจักพรรดิภูยี ในเมื่อปี ค.ศ๑๙๑๒ ( ๑๐๒ปีที่ผ่านมา)

เเล้วประเทศเพื่อนบ้านของไทยล่ะ…ที่ล้มล้างระบอบกษัติริย์ของเขามีดังนี้ …

เวียดนามได้ล้มล้างราชวงศ์วินในปี๑๙๔๕ ( ๗๐ปีที่ผ่านมา)

พม่าล้มล้างราชวงศ์กงบุญในเมื่อปี ค.ศ.๑๘๘๕ ( ๑๒๙ปีที่ผ่านมา)

เขมรได้กำจัดอำนาจนโรโดม สีหะนุ เมื่อปี ค.ศ. ๒๐๐๔ (๑๐ปีที่ผ่านมา) ถึงเขมรจะมีกษัตริย์ เเต่กษัตริย์ของเขาไม่มีสิทธิ์มายุ่งวุ่นวายทางการเมืองการปกครองใดๆทั้งสิ้น

ประเทศลาวซึ่งพวกเราคนไทยมักจะไปดูถูกดูเเคลนประเทศเขา เขายังสามารถยกเลิกระบอบกษัตริษย์ศรีสว่างวัฒนาในปีค.ศ.๑๙๗๕ ( ๓๙ ปีที่ผ่านมา) เเละตอนนี้ ลาวก็ได้ปกครองในระบบสาธารณะ อันมีประธานาธิบดี เป็นผู้บริการเเละเป็นประมุขของประเทศ เเละมีการเลือกตั้งประธานาธิบดีขึ้นมาใหม่ในทุกๆ๔ปี

มันน่าอับอายไหมล่ะประชาชนชาวไทย ราชการ ทหารตำรวจ …ฯลฯ…คุณโดนเจ้าไทยกับอำมาตย์หลอกลวงมาช้านาน

ประเทศต่างๆที่เจริญเขาได้ก้าวข้ามระบอบกษัตริย์มาอย่างยาวนาน เเต่ในประเทศไทยประชาชนยังเสียเวลามาทะเลาะกันเพียงเเค่เรื่องบ้าๆอย่างนี้ เพียงเพราะเจ้าไทยมีความเเยบยลเเนบเนียนกะล่อนไม่มีที่สิ้นสุด

ข้าพเจ้าอยากจะยกคำพูดของประธานนาธิบดีคนที่๑๖ของสหรัฐอเมริกา ท่าน อับบราฮัม ลินคอร์น ตามคำพูดต่อไปนี้ “ประชาชนทั้งหลายที่อยู่ที่ไหนก็ตาม พวกคุณสามารถที่จะลุกขึ้นสู้หรือต่อต้าน เพื่อที่จะทำให้รัฐบาลปัจจุบันสั่นสะเทือน เเละเเต่งตั้งระบอบการปกครองที่ดีกว่าสำหรับประชาชนในประเทศ …อันนี้เป็นสิทธิ์ที่ชอบธรรมเเละศักสิทธิ์ของประชาชน ที่พวกเราหวังเเละเชื่อว่า จะสามารถปลดเเอกประชาชนเเละอยู่อย่างมีอิสระภาพในโลกใบนี้
” —อับบราฮัม ลินคอร์น

ข้าพเจ้ามีภาระหลายอย่างที่จะต้องทำ เพราะจะต้องเดินทางไปพิพิธภัณฑ์ เเละอนุเสาวรีย์ของประธานาธิบดีลินคอร์น ที่ วอชิงตันดีซี ซึ่งเป็นเมืองที่สวยมาก สหรัฐอเมริกาเป็นประเทศเเห่งอิสระภาพที่เเท้จริงอย่างสมบูรณ์เเบบ

I want more!

22 06 2014

One of the major complaints made by red shirts in their campaigns for elections in the 2008 to 2010 period was that the amart was a powerful group that defended the status quo and refused to provide any political openings for those who wanted more representation of their interests.

pyramidThe amart was never particularly well defined. It was the elite, the royalist elite, the network monarchy, Sino-Thai tycoons and so on. When rhetorical push came to political push, sometimes the links between the (Sino-Thai) monarchy and Sino-Thai capitalists were made, and there were attacks on corporations such as the Bangkok Bank.

More recently, when Suthep Thaugsuban’s anti-democrats were on the streets, there were several articles that made connections between him, his movement and tycoons. While Suthep may have attacked nepotism and cronyism that he alleged were features of Thaksin Shinawatra’s clan, it is evident that Suthep was doing the work of big clans and networks that had greater longevity than Thaksin’s lot.

There have been various mappings of the group known as the Sino-Thai business class and its networks.

The Sino-Thai rich have long been required to demonstrate their political loyalty by writhing about at te feet of the royals, offering them buckets of money and swathes of land. The royalist Democrat Party also collects loot from the rich and is the tycoons’ preferred party, if they must endure party politics.

Of course, there are various measures of the huge troughs of money that accrue to the amart through its political and economic dominance. The obscene wealth of the royals has also been detailed as well as the huge handouts the monarchy gets from the taxpayer.


Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi

Until a recent report at the Bangkok Post, however, we had never seen a listing of landholdings. There, it is the alcohol tycoon Sirivadhanabhakdi family that is listed as owning the most land in Thailand, with 630,000 rai. PPT is never the best with calculations, but we think that’s nearly 101,000 hectares or about 1,000 square kilometers. One might be tempted to observe that that’s a small amount of Thailand’s land area, but it is about the size of the Hong Kong S.A.R.. The family has “a 12,000-rai plot in Cha-am, Phetchaburi province, and a 15,000 rai plot in Bang Ban, Ayutthaya province.”

That beer and whiskey family is followed by the telecoms, shopping mall and hotel-owning tycoons, the Chirathivat family, with 200,000 rai. That family held a prize “10,000-rai plot in Ayutthaya.”

The Crown Property Bureau is said to be fourth, with “just” 30,000 rai. That’s about the same as was reported in 2005. Given that a significant portion of this is in the highest value areas of Bangkok, the returns are pretty chunky.

The report states that there were just “837 individuals and juristic persons [that] had 1,000 rai or more…”. The vast bulk of landowners in Thailand own very small plots. Inequality in incomes is matched by vast inequalities in land ownership.

Updated: Political crisis and the rich

7 06 2014

The 14 June 2014 issue of Forbes lists the 50 richest Thais/Thai families. With all of the political turmoil in Thailand in recent years, most of it claimed or asserted to be in support of the wealthy elite – recall the remarkable Vice clip of rich dipsticks in Ferraris – it might be thought that the wealthiest might have seen a decline in their fortunes. After all, the economy has struggled, several of the richest families kicked in loot to back the anti-democrats, and things just haven’t seemed conducive for the rich to add hugely to their fortunes. So what has happened?

Most years PPT has posted a list of the wealthiest, always noting that the list leaves off the wealthiest family. That’s the “Mahidols,” also known as the royal family. In 2011, the Forbes list was:

  1. Dhanin Chearavanont,  $7.4 billionmoneybags
  2. Yoovidhya family, $5b
  3. Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi,  $4.8b
  4. Chirathivat family, $4.3b
  5. Ratanarak family,  $2.5b
  6. Aloke Lohia,  $2.1b
  7. Bhirombhakdi family,  $2b
  8. Vichai Maleenont,  $1.5b
  9. Isara Vongkusolkit & family,  $1.4b
  10. Praneetsilpa Vacharaphol & family,  $1.05b

The combined wealth of this top 10 was $32.05 billion, still quite a lot less than the royal family’s Crown Property Bureau.

What does the list look like in 2014? With a little adding together of the same families listed twice and lengthening to show changes, it is:

  1. Sirivadhanabhakdi family, $12.9bmoney
  2. Chirathivat family, $12.1b
  3. Dhanin Chearavanont, $11.5b
  4. Yoovidhya family, $9.9b
  5. Ratanarak family, $5.1b
  6. Chaiyawan family, $3.9b
  7. Bhirombhakdi family, $2.8b
  8. Prasert Prasarttong-Osoth, $2.3b
  9. Vichai Maleenont, $1.7b
  10. Shinawatra family, $1.7b
  11. Chatri Sophonpanich, $1.6b
  12. Thirakomen family, $1.5b
  13. Thongma Vijitpongpun, $1.4b
  14. Prayudh Mahagitsiri & family, $1.4b
  15. Keeree Kanjanapas, $1.4b
  16. Bencharongkul & family, $1.3b
  17. Aloke Lohia, $1.2b
  18. Osathanugrah family, $1.2b
  19. Wichai Thongtang, $1.1b
  20. Isara Vongkusolkit & family, $1.1b

Praneetsilpa Vacharaphol & family dropped to No. 25 on the list but increased its wealth to $1.1b. Of the top 10 families in 2011, all but the Vongkusolkit family had increased their wealth, most of them very substantially.

By 2014, the combined wealth of the top 10 on the list had rocketed to $63.9 billion. We have no way of knowing what the current assets of the royals and CPB are at present – they don’t have to provide such trivial details to the public. All we can note is that the wealth of the top 10 is now about double the 2011 assets of the CPB.

The wealth of the Shinawatra family increased 4.25 times between 2011 and 2014, outstripping the growth of the top 10. However, others did well to. The Chirathivat family wealth increase by about 3 times and the Chaiyawan family at about the same rate as the Shinawatra family.

Update: Our writer yesterday has been admonished and, in the spirit of “good order,” was made to stand outside her condo displaying a dangerous 3-fingered salute for neglecting to link this post about the richest with those who were thought to have funded the anti-democrat movement. He is truly sorry.

Anti-monarchy graffiti and royal wealth II

19 10 2013

This post continues PPT’s summary of the academic article “Working Towards the Monarchy and its Discontents: Anti-royal Graffiti in Downtown Bangkok,” that is authored by Serhat Ünaldi of the Department of Southeast Asian Studies, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. It is available (for a fee, free to subscribers or through universities that subscribe) at the Journal of Contemporary Asia.

Our earlier post concentrated on the graffiti, whereas this post is on royal ownership of valuable property. We earlier noted that the article’s analysis of the ownership of the Rajaprasong area was interesting:

The space examined here is a major part of downtown Bangkok and borders the Khlong Saen Saeb canal in the north, Ratchadamri Road in the east, Rama I Road in the south and Phaya Thai Road in the west. Based on land ownership the area can be divided into two. The western part is privately owned by Princess Sirindhorn who, as the landlord, earns the income generated from property rents directly. The eastern section is owned by the Crown Property Bureau (CPB) which manages the assets of the monarchy as an institution but whose generated income is “paid at the King’s pleasure” (p. 8).

As few researchers have ever dared publish on the private assets of the royals, the following bits and pieces from the article deserve attention. The dates are about acquisition/building/registration of the property or company:

An AP Photo

An AP Photo

The land owned by the princess comprises her palace Wang Sra Pathum (completed in 1916) and the sites of the surrounding commercial buildings: the Siam Kempinski Hotel (2010), the Siam Paragon shopping mall (2006), the Siam Center shopping mall (1973), the Siam Car Park (1994), the Siam Tower offices (1998) and the Siam Discovery shopping mall (1997).

 The CPB-owned land encompasses: the Isetan department store (1992), the Centara Grand Hotel (2008), the CentralWorld shopping mall (1989/2006), Zen department store (1989), the Offices at CentralWorld (2005), Chumchon Lang Wat Pathumwanaram (a slum community), Suan Pathumwananurak (an unfinished park) and the Wat Pathum Wanaram school (2007).

The dates are about acquisition/building/registration. There’s more:

… in the Siam-Ratchaprasong area the commercial interests of the monarchy are served not only by income from its properties, for Princess Sirindhorn and King Bhumibol are also major shareholders of the retail company Siam Piwat which operates the Siam shopping malls on Princess Sirindhorn’s land. The king holds 180,000 shares in Siam Piwat and the princess holds 4.32 million shares, most of them acquired from the Ministry of Finance and BankThai (now CIMB Thai Bank) in 2003 and 2005, respectively. This makes the royal family the second biggest shareholder of Siam Piwat. The family thus earns twice: from leasing out land to Siam Piwat and from their shares in the company. The princess could earn an estimated 1.68 billion baht (US$52.5 million) in annual rents from the mall and hotel operators in the “Siam” area, calculated on the basis of recent estimates of land prices in downtown Bangkok of 600 million baht per rai (1,600 m2), a total plot size of approximately 70 rai and a policy – followed by the CPB next door (Grossman 2011, 297) – of raising annual rents of 4% of a property’s market value. Moreover, in 2010, Sirindhorn’s share of Siam Piwat’s net income amounted to 145 million baht (US$4.7 million) or almost a quarter of the company’s total net income attributable to shareholders for that year.5 Siam Piwat itself subleases part of the land to the Siam Kempinski Hotel. The Siam Kempinski is owned by Kempin Siam, a joint venture between the Bahrain-based Al Manar capital group (49%), the Thai property developer Natural Park (35%) and Royal Wealth (16%) which, again, is co-owned by Al Manar and CPB Equity, a holding company which looks after the share dealings of the CPB. Interestingly, by setting up the aptly named company Royal Wealth together with Al Manar, the CPB helped the foreign capital group to increase its shareholding in Kempin Siam beyond 49% to become a majority shareholder in a Thai company. Moreover, the CPB not only co-owns Siam Kempinski, it also owns 86% of the shares of Kempinski Hotels S.A., a world-wide operating luxury hotel chain which manages the Siam Kempinski. In the mid-1990s the Dusit Thani Hotel Group and Siam Commercial Bank (SCB, of which the CPB holds a dominating 23.69%) invested in the ailing Kempinski group. After the 1997 financial crisis the CPB bought the shares from Dusit Thani and the SCB to “face-lift” the bank’s portfolio.

On the political economy of royalism and consumption, the author observes:

Royals often frequent the “Siam” malls whose appeal, through physical proximity to a royal palace, can hardly be replicated elsewhere in the city. Therefore, business success in the Siam area partly depends on the continued power of the monarchy’s sacred charisma. But while the monarchy lends its barami to the shopping malls it also symbiotically profits from them – and not just in terms of income generated from rents and shareholdings. Subtle references to the royal ties of the malls link the monarchy with the material progress of the Bangkok populace, yet carefully avoiding revealing the royal family’s direct financial interest in these commercial operations. As a place of conspicuous consumption, of Louis Vuitton and Ferrari, and as a “royal” mall, Siam Paragon is a double source of social distinction.

All-in-all, this is one academic paper that deserves broad attention and careful reading.

Sufficient nonsense

16 10 2013

Sanitsuda Ekachai is an editor at the Bangkok Post specializing in Buddhist issues and rural development and NGOs material. We were somewhat surprised that she has been beating the sufficiency economy drum again.

PPT had thought that the sufficiency economy discourse had died an appropriate death when it was linked with the geriatric royalist regime that the 2006 coup put in place. After all, the royalist Democrat Party gave it little attention, except in ideological terms, when they were hoisted to power by military and palace. So while it was put in development plans – does anyone look at these any more? – and posterior polishing conferences were organized bringing together well-paid luminaries with no particular knowledge of this “philosophy,” it seemed, well, forgotten.

While Sanitsuda knows it is an “empty mantra,” she seems to think that it needs resurrection in the fight against rapacious capitalists.Now which is the largest capitalist conglomerate in Thailand? Oh, yes, the (never sufficiency) monarchy…. Yet it was this line that got our attention:

The sufficiency economy concept initiated by His Majesty the King is lauded worldwide because it addresses the much-needed moral dimension of development and capitalism.

Lauded the world over? Really? We did a bit of a search, and apart from Thai royal pandering sites, there isn’t much. The best of these we saw was at a UNESCO site, where this was the blurb:

UNESCO Future Lecture – Towards a Sufficiency Economy: a New Ethical Paradigm for Sustainability: In Homage to the Philosophy on “Sufficiency Economy” by His Majesty the King Bhumibol Adulyadej

All of this event was Thai officials using taxpayer funds to promote the monarchy. A bit of an expensive yawn. There are some blogs that link to the notion and competing claims for ownership of the idea, For example,

Samuel Alexander is a founder of the Simplicity Institute, a group … making some of the most interesting contributions to the post-growth debate at the moment. In particular, their work has focused on the ‘sufficiency economy’….

Alexander is a new kid on the sufficiency/simplicity block, but there’s little evidence that  the king’s idea – if it was his – is being lauded worldwide.

The question is: why make this stuff up and publish it in a newspaper? To be honest, we can’t think of a single reason why a serious journalist would do this.

Rich richer

15 09 2013

There are several measures of wealth around. There are also measures of poverty, but these are less likely to generate media stories unless associated with political strife.

There have been several media accounts of a report by Wealth-X, which each year delineates the really, really rich around the world. PPT uses a Wall Street Journal story that appeared at Wealth-X’s website. It begins: “In Southeast Asia, the rich are getting richer.”moneybags

The WSJ says:

Every country in the region tracked by the [Wealth-X] report – Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam – saw their population of ultra-high net worth individuals (UHNW), defined as those with assets of US$30 million and up, grow over the past year.

These UHNWs have done pretty nicely in the past year, for Thailand:

boasted the biggest growth of this specific group of wealthy, with its ultra-high net worth population up 15.2% to 720 individuals this year, compared to 625 in 2012. The wealth pool of these millionaires in Thailand has also grown, and they now control US$110 billion in assets, up from US$95 billion a year ago.

That’s about $150 million each for the 720.

Of course, US$150 million is a drop in the bucket when compared with, say, the announced royal wealth for Thailand, which is far in excess of $30 billion. And that doesn’t even include the taxpayer slug of US$436 million for making sure the royals are safe, secure and posterior polished. With the rich getting richer, we would expect the Crown Property Bureau’s assets and personal royal wealth to have at least kept pace in recent years.

Thailand, which has actually seen tiny improvements in its Gini Index and increases is incomes for the poorest in recent years. Even so, the National Statistical Office’s 2011 household survey revealed that the national average monthly income was 22,236 baht (US$741). The national average per capita income for the poorest 10% of the population was just 1,896 baht (US$63) per month.

13,869,660,200 baht

21 08 2013

That’s how much it will cost in the coming year to revere the monarchy. Here we refer only to the cost to the taxpayer as set out by the Bureau of Budget. Recall that this monarchy is often ranked as the wealthiest in the world.

PAD protester

Give them more!!

That huge, mind-boggling figure is about US$436,360,620.

In 2011 it was 10,781,250,000 baht.

In 2012 it was 11,208,800,975 baht.

The increase over three years is over 20%.

The British monarchy cost their taxpayer about 31 million pounds or about 1,500,000,000 baht. We know this because the royals there produce an 80 page report each year on their grants from the state.

This means the Thai monarchy gets almost 10 times more that the British monarchy! Each year!


Supporting royalism 2013

9 06 2013

Some two years ago, PPT posted a comment based on a New York Times report by Thomas Fuller. In a long post on royal wealth, we noted this:

Fuller adds that income from the CPB [Crown Property Bureau] “is separate from the approximately $350 million in taxpayer money allocated for the royal household, royal-led development projects and other expenses related to the royal family.”

PPT added:

In fact, PPT thinks $350 million of taxpayer money is an under-estimate. For example, in the Abhisit Vejjajiva government’s last budget the first three lines of the Ministry of Finance’s allocation was for royal things and amounted to about $100 million. Line after line in the budget allocates funds to the royals. This is public information, but as far as PPT knows, going through the Budget Bureau’s allocations has not been a task yet completed.

Now doing the rounds of the social media is this estimate for 2013, and drawn from the Budget Bureau. Our version is sent to us by a reader who says it is a Facebook translation provided via Andrew MacGregor Marshall. PPT edited some of this but didn’t change the data:

… according to the Fiscal Year 2013 budget Act:

- Expenses related to Royal Development Projects – 2,300,000,000 Baht (US $76.67 Million)

- Expenses related to traveling and welcoming foreign Heads of States – 700,000,000 Baht (US $ 23.34 million)

- Layout of plans for cherishing, safeguarding and protecting the monarchy institution to these government organizations:

1. Office of the Permanent Secretary to the Office of the Prime Minister – 635,066,000 Baht (US $ 21.2 Million)

2.  Office of the Secretariat of the Prime Minister – 2,104,446,500 Baht – (US $ 70.15 Million)

3.  Minister of Defense (22,760,700 Baht – (US $ 0.76 Million)

4.  Royal Thai Aide-De-Camp Department – 580,426,700 Baht (US $ 19.35 Million)

5.  Royal Thai Armed Force Headquarters = 260,000,000 Baht (US $8.67 Million)

6.  Royal Thai Army – 320,000,000 Baht (US $ 10.67 Million)

7.  Royal Thai Navy – 12,246,100 Baht (US $ 0.41 Million)

8.  Royal Thai Air Forces – 23,500,000 Baht (US $ 0.78 Million)

Grand Total: 6,958,446,000 Baht (approximately US $232 Million) per year

The version sent to us adds this, which confirms our earlier comment above on needing to drill down on the budget:

In an addition, several individuals provided the comments that most governmental branches are required to use their own annual budget to allocate for “cherishing, safeguarding and protecting the monarchy institution” on the top of the Official Annual Budget for Fiscal Year 2013.

The Thai of the translation  above is:

… ตาม พ.ร.บ.งบประมาณรายจ่ายประจำปีงบประมาณ พ.ศ.2556 ต่อไนี้หน่อยครับ (เพื่อนลิงค์มาให้ตามโพสต์ด้านล่าง)

 – ค่าใช้จ่ายตามโครงการอันเนื่องมาจากพระราชดำริ 2,300,000,000 บาท

- ค่าใช้จ่ายเกี่ยวกับการเสด็จพระราชดำเนินและต้อนรับประมุขต่างประเทศ 700,000,000 บาท

- แผนงานเทิดทูน พิทักษ์ และรักษาสถาบันพระมหากษัตริย์ จัดให้หน่วยงานหลักดังนี้

(1) สนง.ปลัด สำนักนายกรัฐมนตรี 635,066,000 บาท

(2) สำนักเลขาธิการนายกรัฐมนตรี 2,104,446,500 บาท

(3) กระทรงกลาโหม 22,760,700 บาท

(4) กรมราชองครักษ์ 580,426,700 บาท

(5) กองบัญชาการกองทัพไทย 260,000,000 บาท

(6) กองทัพบก 320,000.000 บาท

(7) กองทัพเรือ 12,246,100 บาท

(8) กองทัพอากาศ 23,500,000 บาท

If readers go back to the 2012 budget (clicking downloads a very large PDF in English), the centrality of the expenditures on and for the monarchy indicates how debased ideas about “national security” have become. In fact, these allocations are evidence of the extent of the warping of public public policy required by monarchism:

The FY 2012 budget allocation consists of 8 strategies and a list of expenditures on general administration under 49 programmes. Important aspects of the strategy can be summarized as follows:

Strategy 1 : Building of foundation for a balanced development towards the society….

Strategy 2 : National Security

The government has allocated the budget for protecting national security, upholding and preserving the monarchy and maintaining domestic order by strengthening and developing readiness and potential for the national defence system….

The amount of 190,300.9 million baht, equivalent to 8 per cent of the total budget, is allocated for this strategy and can be classified by the following programmes.

2.1 Programme on upholding, protecting and preserving the monarchy

The amount of 11,208.8 million baht will be allocated to uphold, protect and preserve the monarchy from any offenses by providing a security system and organizing events on upholding the monarchy at appropriate occasions. In addition, His Majesty’s suggestions will be implemented along with the promotion and promulgation of the Royal Projects to make people aware of his kindness and maintain their loyalty to the monarchy and the fact that the Thai society is the society of unity and sufficiency living.

2.2 Programme on national defence

The amount of 164,615.4 million baht will be allocated to strengthen and develop the national defence system to be prepared with potentials to protect independence, sovereignty, security and national interests from internal and external threats….

2.3  Programme on maintaining domestic order

The amount of 14,476.7 million baht will be allocated to preserve national interests and maintain domestic order….

Obscuring by political concoction

13 12 2012

As any long-time reader of PPT knows, the wealthiest family in Thailand is the royal family. If the wealth of the top ten in the annual Forbes list is combined, then the total comes out roughly the same as the assets of the Crown Property Bureau alone, leaving aside the other assets of the royal family.Money & Banking

Another measure of wealth that comes out each year for Thailand is the Money & Banking/การเงินการธนาคาร list of top shareholders at the Stock Exchange of Thailand. We do not recall it including the royal family’s personal shareholdings. PPT hasn’t seen the latest issue and ranking (the cover is reproduced, right), but we note a story based on it from The Nation.

PPT’s attention was drawn to the article by the headline: “Richest stockholders linked to govt, PM”. As far as we can tell, this is a complete fabrication by the newspaper. This concoction – made for blatantly political purposes – is apparently not even based on the data the editors of this fish wrap  reproduce in their own story. The first lines of the story modify the false headline only slightly: “Politicians and their families, especially some people close to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her government … rank among the richest stockholders in the country.”

Well, yes, they do rank “among the 5,737 millionaires as of September…” – yes, that is more than 5,700.

The Nation breathlessly states: there “are Yingluck’s two nieces, who are daughters of her big brother and former prime minister Thaksin [Shinawatra].” It shows that “Paethongtarn Shinawatra, was ranked 47th with her 29-per-cent holding in SC Asset worth Bt3.46 billion, while Pinthongta Shinawatra was 53rd with a 28-per-cent stake in the same real-estate company worth Bt3.35 billion.”

What the data show is that the top 46 stockholders are not related to the government or prime minister, at least not according to The Nation’s data.

The paper does find others who are not “Richest stockholders linked to govt, PM”, but claims they are: “Pojaman na Pombejra, Thaksin’s ex-wife, fell to 502nd” place on the list, while “Pongthep Thepkanjana, deputy prime minister and education minister, has his wife and daughter on the list. Yapa was ranked 244th with a 2.1-per-cent interest in Kiatnakin Bank worth Bt795.50 million, while his wife Panida was 264th with a 1.9-per-cent stake worth Bt728.08 million in the bank.” Then they dug up “Artharn at 1,811st with a 2.6-per-cent stake worth Bt58.28 million in Unimit Engineering, and Duang at 2,213rd with 1.8 per cent or Bt38.60 million in the same company,” who are sons of Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung.

It is quite clear that The Nation has simply made up its headline and concocted a story. It has long been known that the Shinawatra clan is wealthy, and they have appeared on the Money & Banking list for many years, often much higher ranked than they are now. Pongthep’s family has also been on the list for some time.

Recent reports suggest that the king’s personal holdings “include shares valued at $63 million in companies including Minor International Pcl (MINT), Thailand’s biggest hotel operator … according to data compiled by Bloomberg.” If accurate, that alone would rank the king above Pongthep’s wife and daughter combined.

If real analysis was done of the biggest shareholders, we have little doubt that the real headline would be “Richest stockholders linked to Democrat Party.”

The Nation is too often a disgraceful pile of pulp and remarkably stupid in its concoctions.

Monarchies in comparison

27 08 2012

Personal or public?

Readers may recall that back in April this year, PPT posted regarding the scandal facing the Spanish king at that time and some of the historical coincidences that haunted the Spanish and Thai kings. At the Council on Foreign Relations blog, Joshua Kurlantzick has a post with a contemporary comparison.

Referring to a Washington Post article of a few days ago, Kurlantzick writes of how European austerity programs are impacting the monarchies there. Kurlantzick reminds readers of the criticism of the Spanish king, Juan Carlos, for his 19th Century and colonial-like penchant for shooting wild animals in Africa (see PPT’s earlier post). That criticism “led to a major backlash against the monarch.” The blog article states that that event has seen calls for “Juan Carlos to drastically cut his annual spending and to be much more transparent about how he is spending money on royal activities.”

While the well-funded and seemingly well-fueled escapes of the youngest British prince/playboy in Las Vegas may suggest that the austerities are not cutting too deep for some, the calls for greater transparency for the more controversial and big spending and well-connected royals has been growing, while establishment figures and self-serving royalists seek to protect the extravagant royals.

Kurlantzick then turns to Thailand:

Though it may be able to hold off such inquiries for now, via harsh lèse-majesté laws and the genuine reverence the monarchy enjoys, the Thai monarchy could learn some lessons from Juan Carlos. Like the Spanish king, the current Thai king, Bhumibol Adulyadej, has truly earned a high degree of respect from many Thais over the course of his lengthy reign. But that respect, and the fact that the king’s reign is strongly supported by a core of arch-royalists in Bangkok, does not mean that questions are not increasingly being raised, in private, about the royal family’s finances.

Kurlantzick’s view of “respect” is couched in terms that don’t obliterate history in the way that several news agencies have long done, and the point he makes about transparency for royal finances is an important one. While he believes that “royals seem to understand this [need] in Thailand,”we are not so sure the royals are in any way keen on opening up about health, wealth or much else.

His evidence for feeling that the Thai royals have been given a message is the “recent, royally-approved biography of the king’s life” that he says “contained significantly more information on the Crown Property Bureau “than any royally-approved book had in the past.” That’s true, but it is a bit of closing the gate after the horse has bolted given the high profile of an academic account (get it here) and the related Forbes story of the CPB. Essentially, the book is a royalist and palace attempt to steer the public account of the monarchy, post-Handley (and his The King Never Smiles).

Kurlantzick believes that as the average Thai knows something about the monarchy’s wealth, that knowledge “only fuels a hunger for more —though Thais will not say so in public. On social media sites, and in private conversations, discussion of the Crown Property Bureau now is far more common than in the past.”

Juan Carlos has apparently “announced he would be taking a pay cut voluntarily, according to the Washington Post story, in tune with the austere times.” Kurlantzick asks if that isn’t a “model for other monarchs?” Probably not, for as the palace and those responsible for the recent biography points out, this king is unlike any other…. and other such concoctions that serve “protect” and conceal.

Much that contributes to the wealth and power of the Thai monarchy remains missing from public view. See sets of PPT posts on this here and here.

As a most basic of examples, it remains unclear – make that opaque – how much taxpayer money goes to support the royal family, its activities, projects and personal spending. Efforts have been made to cull information from Budget Bureau papers, but there is no clarity and a myriad of government agencies pour funds into the support of the royals, with no accounting or public accountability (as one small example, think of royal cars). No minister or politician dares  raise questions about royal funding in parliament, which is meant to be one site of scrutiny over the expenditure of public monies; many of these people assist in what amount to cover ups. Senior bureaucrats regularly come out with dopey letters denying royal wealth.

Transparency remains pretty much off the agenda and accountability is a term that is unlikely to be used in the same breathe as monarchy.


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