Royalism protected and promoted

12 08 2009

Prachatai has two stories of note on royal and royalist topics.

The first (11 August 2009: “Manager distributes complaint form for filing charges against red-shirt leaders”) reports on Sondhi Limthongkul’s ManagerASTV and the People’s Alliance for Democracy running a campaign against the “royal pardon” petition for Thaksin Shinawatra. PAD lawyer Suwat Aphaiphak claims the petition is a “violation of the Criminal Code, subject to many years in jail on charges of assisting a culprit and contempt of court.” The Manager website has a copy of a document that can be downloaded in order to bring charges against the “bad reds.” Suwat believes that the petition is “a political ploy to pressure the King.” Of course, there is no mention of the PAD attempt to pressure the king back in 2006, also by petition and also political. Suwat stated that he was “preparing to file charges against the red-shirt leaders…”.

The second Prachatai story (12 August 2009: “Government sponsors epic movie ‘Naresuan’ to urge Thais to worship the monarchy”) refers to the heavy publicity Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has recently had in announcing that the government would sponsor ‘Naresuan’, an epic movie about the ancient Ayutthayan king who saved the kingdom from Burma four hundred years ago.”

This is a second part of a nationalist exercise begun by the royalist director Chatrichalerm Yukol who carries the princely moniker of “Mom Chao.” He was also responsible for the boringly long ‘Suriyothai’ in 2001 (see below).

Abhisit claimed “that the legend of King Naresuan was meaningful in Thai history and to the Thai people.” He said the “movie is in honor of Her Majesty the Queen on the occasion of her birthday on Aug 12, and to promote and worship the great king for his bravery, endurance, sacrifice, patriotism and military genius which have contributed to Thai sovereignty up to today, as well as to raise the awareness among Thais to unite and love the country.”

Abhisit seems to have lost his ideological way and is reverting to the standard royalist ploys of hyper-nationalism tied to royalist myths about the past. Abhisit seems set on banging the royalist-nationalist drum, having the Ministry of Culture “give support to the production.” Sounding more royalist than ever before, Abhisit apparently wanted this support to translate into “Thais worship[ing] the monarchy which has contributed so much to the benefit of the Thai people.”

The Minister of Culture Teera Slukpetch explained that the cash to support yet another royal scheme would be from Abhisit’s so far ineffectual “Strong Thai Project.” And how much support? The Minister was going to consult Sirikit’s princely relative Chatrichalerm on this and then seek Cabinet approval.

One might hope that someone in Cabinet would have sufficient courage and/or intelligence to see this as another plot to subsidize royal ideas of little merit, but probably not, and more taxpayers’ money will go down this very large rat hole. Of course, being the wealthiest royal family in the world makes them deserving of even more support than they already get (and no one dares say how much that is).

The Suriyothai venture is worthy of some comment, and the Wikipedia entry has some interesting details. The director says that the “film was originally the idea of Queen Sirikit” and film was “financed by Queen Sirikit.” This support may have cost the queen as much as US$20 million. In addition, Sirikit’s backing, the Army and Navy were called on to provide several thousand film extras. At the time, it was rumored that the film was the most expensive Thai film ever made, but because of the queen’s involvement, no accurate figure is ever possible.

Perhaps that’s why the government is being brought in to fund this new movie

A media report claims that “Some of the queen’s contributions may be less fortuitous. Discerning filmgoers will not be surprised to learn, for example, that M.L. Piyapas Bhirombhakdi, who plays the title role, is not an actress. In fact she is Queen Sirikit’s royal dresser, or lady in waiting, handpicked for the part by her majesty.”

The rumors on why the queen got involved in this movie say that the queen sees herself as a reincarnation of Suriyothai. Paul Handley in The King Never Smiles (2006, p. 385) is more polite, but the underlying rumor remains.

While some might point out to Abhisit and his Democrat Party that there are contradictions involved in promoting sufficiency economy ideas while pouring cash into the vanity movie projects of some of the wealthiest royals on the planet. That would be a misconception, however. In fact, all of this goes together into rebuilding the shaken foundations of the Thai monarchy as the ideological core of nationalist-royalism.



3 responses

13 08 2009
ปกป้องและโฆษณา ลัทธิกษัตริย์นิยม « Liberal Thai

[…] ปกป้องและโฆษณา ลัทธิกษัตริย์นิยม วันศุกร์ 14 สิงหาคม 2009 — chapter 11 Royalism protected and promoted ๑๒ สิงหาคม ๒๕๕๒ ที่มา – Political Prisoners in Thailand […]

14 08 2009
ปกป้องและโฆษณา ลัทธิกษัตริย์นิยม « Liberal Thai 1

[…] ปกป้องและโฆษณา ลัทธิกษัตริย์นิยม สิงหาคม 14th, 2009 chapter 11 ใส่ความเห็น Go to comments Royalism protected and promoted ๑๒ สิงหาคม ๒๕๕๒ ที่มา – Political Prisoners in Thailand […]

14 08 2009
New: Abhisit as royalist « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] all talk of reconciliation and taking up royalist stances with greater vigor (see, for example, here). Of course, the Democrat Party has been royalist since its inception, but when Abhisit was chosen […]

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