Fallout from Chulabhorn’s “Woody” interview

7 04 2011

We have had two posts at PPT that have commented briefly on the interview between Princess Chulabhorn and Bangkok personality Woody Milintachinda (see here, here and here).

In recent blogs and stories we note some buzz around particular aspects of the interview. At New Mandala, Guest Contributor Skye Phu-ngarm has a post entitled “A Thai response to Princess Chulabhorn’s interview.” Ignoring the allusion to “Thai-style” anything, it does present a sympathetic position on royalty. This comment deserves attention:

Woody was then brought to tears upon the Princess’s recall of the King’s declining health condition as a result of the Bangkok riots last year.   His displayed emotion only reiterated the common appreciation of the Thai public for the monarch.

PPT disagrees that there is anything like a “common appreciation” on this point. The continued repetition of statements like this amount to royalist propaganda. We certainly agree with the point that follows:

As a Thai citizen living in Thailand, I beg to differ with the Princess about the inadequacy of royal publicity.  What she should regularly be reminded is the very fact that Thai people, especially the young, have a mind of their own.  While the bombardment of  royal publicity has been successful in maintaining the royal strength, it could eventually prove futile if this institution is unwilling to strive to stay relevant within modern Thai society.

Bangkok Post photo

Skye tells readers that the next installment of this interview will have Chulabhorn telling viewers about the king’s health.  Skye adds: “Having been hospitalized in Siriraj Hospital since September 2009, the 84-year-old King’s health has become the center of national attention.” And of the rumor mill. Why is he still there? Fear? Ill-health? Declining capacity? People will speculate until the end.

But back to the first paragraph cited above. Prachatai highlights this point, drawing on the Manager, where politics is clearly on display. Remember this is meant to be a constitutional monarchy above politics. Hence, no royal should make public political comments:

She is asked about the playing of the royal anthem in movie theaters, which is a political issue because it has resulted in lese majeste allegations. Chulabhorn thinks there needs to be more! She wants increased attention to her dad’s “good works.” She adds: “However little it is, I’m proud that 20-year-old youngsters come to know what HM has done. This is not to promote myself as a royal. But I want HM to receive the justice he deserves, and also HM the Queen. They’ve worked so hard.”

Note the use of the term “justice.” There is no justice for critics of the monarchy, however.

She goes even further on the idea of more recognition of the monarchy: “Indeed, I’d like to ask for something, but haven’t dared to. I’d like to ask for 10 minutes of TV time after the news each day, to show short films about the royal duties to show what HM the King and the Queen have been doing. Please pity them. When they work wholeheartedly for the Thai people, both of them are very attentive. HM the King has followed irrigation works. He sends for officials to come to the hospital every day.”

Doesn’t she watch television? During the news on every station there is a daily rundown of royal activities, often stretching to well beyond 10 minutes. However, she seems to want an additional 10 minutes. Maybe she doesn’t get those channels that are non-stop royal propaganda, almost 24 hours a day? What she is asking for is increased propaganda. PPT thinks this would be a great way to develop the anti-monarchy movement further and faster.

Woody says: “The young generation has the perception through the media that the Bureau of the Royal Household has done everything. HM…”. Chulabhorn says: “HM gives the orders himself.” So we can also assume that he knows what the Crown Property Bureau is doing and what is going on with lese majeste.

She then talks more on politics:

Frankly, both their majesties are concerned with unity among Thai people, because if there are divisions, enemies can easily attack us. The Thai people must be strong, be friendly to each other and be united, so that the country will progress. In fact, I don’t get mixed up in politics. I don’t want to say who is good or bad. I don’t know. Because I’ve never associated with politicians.

Well, the news is she is involved in politics and so are most royals, as WikiLeaks has shown.This statement is in itself political. She goes further:

But I know that what happened last year, when the country was burnt, brought great sorrow to Their Majesties the King and Queen. HM the King had been able to re-learn to walk, and then he collapsed. He had a fever, had to be put on a saline drip and was confined to bed. HM the Queen was also very sad. She said that it was even sadder than when our country, Ayutthaya, was burnt by the Burmese because this time it was done by the Thais ourselves.

This is a remarkable statement, linking the palace and herself to the anti-red shirt movement.Of course, informed readers will have already known this, but now it has been clearly stated. And, just before a (promised) election! Is she campaigning for the Democrat Party?

How does she see a way forward? She says: “Actually, being divisive is not good for the country. We should try to talk. Don’t use violence. Divisiveness and blocking roads makes traffic jams, and people are moody. I do not side with anyone, or any colour.” Right. She didn’t say anything like this after the People’s Alliance for Democracy divided the country, occupied Government House, occupied the airports, etc. In fact, she supported that group back then!

Playing politics is the norm for the royals and the palace.


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6 responses

8 04 2011
Popular responses to Princess Chulabhorn’s interview

[…] Prisoners in Thailand offers a substantial commentary on the interview that draws, in part, on New Mandala‘s coverage. It is well worth a look. As […]

12 08 2011
Another birthday, same old nonsense | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] anthem.” She then praised the king and all of his “good works.” Recall that some royals want more emphasis on this as they feel the little people have forgotten how wonderful the royals […]

5 07 2012
Birthday nonsense « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] claiming a special bond with Israel. We had several posts on her politics, including her very odd interviews with Woody, letters (here and here) that were the basis of the Army’s lese majeste accusation against Somsak […]

5 07 2012
Birthday nonsense « Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] claiming a special bond with Israel. We had several posts on her politics, including her very odd interviews with Woody, letters (here and here) that were the basis of the Army’s lese majeste accusation against Somsak […]

17 08 2013
Busy days for the protectors of the monarchy | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] And royal health spokeswoman Princess Chulabhorn, despite the PR disasters of her previous appearances, is to “appear on Channel 9′s Woody Kert Ma Kui talk show on Saturday to discuss the health of Their Majesties.” That will get lots of viewers just to look at the astonishing fawning and odd behavior. […]

17 08 2013
Busy days for the protectors of the monarchy | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] And royal health spokeswoman Princess Chulabhorn, despite the PR disasters of her previous appearances, is to “appear on Channel 9′s Woody Kert Ma Kui talk show on Saturday to discuss the health of Their Majesties.” That will get lots of viewers just to look at the astonishing fawning and odd behavior. […]