Royalist hypocrisy

2 04 2012

This story at the Bangkok Post appeared a few days ago and we are late getting to it. However, it does tell us a good deal about the thinking of some of the elite think about the issues of the day and manage a schizophrenic logic.

Kasem Wattanachai is a former minister in the first Thaksin Shinawatra cabinet, but fell out and was quickly sucked up into the Privy Council and was publicly critical of Thaksin.

The first thing to note is that Kasem appears to accept a report by a law lecturer at the National Institute of Development Administration and sponsored by the Ombudsman’s Office, that claims foreigners “own vast amounts of land in Thailand via local nominees.” In fact, the report claimed that “up to one third of land in Thailand is owned by foreigners.”

This claim is complete nonsense and this doesn’t require much brain power to work out. The idea that “foreigners” now “own” about 170,000 km2 of the country boggles the mind. Even if this area was restricted to arable land and land in urban areas, the claim remains unbelievable.

So we have a privy councilor who chooses to believe an unbelievable and outlandish claim.

He then proceeds to lectures “people” should “not let ‘greed’ draw them into cooperating with these foreigners because farmland should be reserved for Thai farmers as their place of work and for their livelihood.”

And while the claim is of “foreigners,” Kasem chooses to single out “rice fields are being sold and rented to investors from the Middle East.” He warned Thais “against helping foreigners acquire land” and urges these farmers to defend their land. As might be expected, he tells them to follow the king’s advice and keep farming and “love” their land.

Ignoring the inherent racism and the royalist banter, it strikes us that the statements are hypocritical.

First, a representative of the richest conglomerate in the country, with extensive foreign joint ventures and large international investments, is telling poor farmers what’s best for them.

Second, as far as we can tell, the Crown Property Bureau’s international investments include landholdings. For example, the Kempinski Hotels group, majority owned by the CPB, with “an international portfolio of 62 hotels” and a “further 43 hotels … under final development or construction in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia” would wonder about being prevented from buying or renting property.

Third, in its early years, in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the CPB played a critical role in facilitating the investments of Chinese business people, many of who were recent migrants to the country, and rented and sold plenty of land to them. Post-1957, the CPB also played a direct and pivotal role  in joint ventures with foreign investors. So too did its Siam Commercial Bank (and all the other commercial banks). In addition, the monarchy itself went out and “sold” Thailand to foreign investors.

Were they being greedy too? Is nationalism only for the poor?: if they have no rice, let them eat nationalism and sufficiency “economics”!

As a footnote, it is noted that the CPB  is probably the largest land owner in the country, and owns vast tracts of rural land, and we know little about how the CPB uses that land. A Forbes report the CPB has “vast land holdings that Forbes used as the basis of its estimate: “In central Bangkok, the king owns 3,320 acres; town and country holdings stretch to 13,200″ acres.


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27 04 2014
Privy councilor as political dinosaur | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] has said similar things before, lecturing those who “sold” land to “foreigners” about “greed.” […]

27 04 2014
Privy councilor as political dinosaur | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] has said similar things before, lecturing those who “sold” land to “foreigners” about “greed.” Then he complained […]

24 07 2015
Royalist ridiculousness | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] The other idea that the military promotes is the sufficiency economy concept, first called the “new theory” some years ago. Royalist posterior polishers also get into the act, even if the notion of sufficiency is foreign to their class. Even for its alleged founder, the call for sufficiency economy is an act of political and economic hypocrisy. […]

24 07 2015
Royalist ridiculousness | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] The other idea that the military promotes is the sufficiency economy concept, first called the “new theory” some years ago. Royalist posterior polishers also get into the act, even if the notion of sufficiency is foreign to their class. Even for its alleged founder, the call for sufficiency economy is an act of political and economic hypocrisy. […]

6 12 2016
The new privy council | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] means the current 11 members of the Privy Council are: “Gen Surayud Chulanont, Kasem Watanachai, Palakorn Suwanarat,  Atthaniti Disatha-amnarj, Supachai Phungam, Chanchai Likitjitta, ACM Chalit […]

6 12 2016
The new privy council | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] means the current 11 members of the Privy Council are: “Gen Surayud Chulanont, Kasem Watanachai, Palakorn Suwanarat,  Atthaniti Disatha-amnarj, Supachai Phungam, Chanchai Likitjitta, ACM Chalit […]