Updated: Making connections that count

6 02 2010

Update: Update: The Bangkok Post (7 February 2010) has a story on Newin’s Buriram PEA footbal team.

***

A few days ago PPT had a short comment on Privileges of wealth and position”. In that post we mentioned the demise of PB Air and its estimated 2 billion baht in liabilities. The airline was associated with Piya Bhirombhakdi, who is now off doing his new luxurious hospitality venture, the 3-billion-baht Ritz-Carlton Reserve in Krabi. We mentioned the Bhirombhakdi family’s royal connections.

In this post, PPT wants to add more on royal and political connections.

We begin with a column by former Thai Rak Thai Party man Suranand Vejjajiva (Bangkok Post, 5 February 2010) where he writes of the Ministry of Interior’s plan to “set up a satellite television channel, TV Mahadthai to create a better understanding of the ministry’s policies and activities, with special emphasis on ‘protecting the institution [of the monarchy]’.” When combined with appearances by “the interior minister, his deputies, the directors-general of various departments and the provincial governors” one could hardly imagine anything more boring, and in the minister’s case, would probably be barely intelligible.

This is yet another way to waste of taxpayer’s money for the benefit of particular interests. But here’s the interesting bit: the press has noticed that this is a Phum Jai Thai Party exercise, with the backing of Newin Chidchob and his family: so they call it “Blue TV.” It isn’t as if Thailand needs more pro-government and pro-monarchy television. The country is full of this propaganda and it is currently becoming more dense.

Newin has promoted his Phum Jai Thai as a monarchy-loving and monarchy-protecting party promising a Thaksin Shinawatra-like return to the good economic times. Newin appears regularly on television at royal-related events, promoting clumsy and obvious kinds of royal propaganda. But it is blue for his party and for the royal he seems to be most keen to support.

Related, it is widely reported that Newin has bought one of Thailand’s major league football teams. Newin is the new chairman of Buri Rum-Provincial Electricity Authority FC. Of course, its kit is blue. What was most interesting for PPT in the extensive television coverage was the sponsors: Chang Beer and King Power.

Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi is the owner of Chang. He is well known as one of Thailand’s wealthiest men but has been reasonably publicity shy. Lycos Retriever has some details. There’s also a chapter on him in Pasuk and Baker’s Thai Capital published in 2008. Family details are available here. He has good bureaucratic contacts through his liquor and beer businesses. Charoen has been a generous donor to royal activities. He is remarkably powerful and has huge cash flow, which makes him a valuable political ally.

The King Power link to Newin has been known for several years. Vichai Raksriaksorn has been one of Newin’s strongest supporters and he is wealthy, politically active and a big supporter of things royal. He is the one credited with having “plagiarized” the Lance Armstrong plastic bracelets in Thailand and made them Long live the king bracelets and raised a fortune that he handed over to the palace.

Vichai’s background is not very clear. In 2007 he was ranked by Forbes as Thailand’s 21st wealthiest, worth about US$200 million. He’s much richer than that now. The best available account of King Power and its economic and political power is by Chang Noi. The airport monopoly also provides the huge cash flow that are a political asset.

Vichai almost single-handedly established and developed the rich person’s sport of polo in Thailand. You’d think this was little more than a hobby, but through his Thailand Polo Association, Vichai has been able to link to royals worldwide – they all seem to play this ostentatious sport – and this has added greatly to his credibility in Thailand’s high society. The Association is also populated by “advisers” who are generals in the police and military.

To bring the connections back to where we began, PPT suggests looking at the Thai-language edition of the U.K.’s Hello magazine often highlights royals, the rich (Charoen’s son’s engagement and wedding was covered) and polo. In the print version of the latest issue, pictured at the website, but with no detail, has an advertisement for a 20 February fund-raising polo game that is called the Queen’s Cup, for “ladies” on page 97. They also have a King’s Cup for the gentlemen players. This advertisement features M.L. Piyapas Bhirombhakdi, lady-in-waiting to the queen.

Being back with a Bhirombhakdi means we are now full circle on the connections, with Newin and the queen featuring.


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6 responses

6 02 2010
Newin, Polo, Hello Magazine and a bottle of Chang « GJBKK Blog

[…] Prisoners Thailand has the answer here Categories: Thai News Comments (0) Trackbacks (0) Leave a comment […]

26 08 2010
Another King Power bomb « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] owner Vichai Raksriaksorn several times. We have posted on him and international football and on local football and politics, on polo and […]

28 08 2010
More on King Power « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] is one of Thailand’s richest Sino-Thai businessmen. Some time ago PPT posted that Vichai’s background is not very clear. In 2007 he was ranked by Forbes as Thailand’s 21st […]

28 10 2018
King Power helicopter down | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Making connections that count is also about the Newin connection. […]

28 10 2018
King Power helicopter down | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] Making connections that count is also about the Newin connection. […]

28 10 2018
King Power helicopter down I | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Making connections that count is also about the Newin connection. […]