In some of the analysis of the events around the 2006 palace-military coup, there was a line of argument that considered the political struggle to be between dueling elites, with Thaksin Shinawatra representing one side – new capital, perhaps – and the palace, king and Crown Property Bureau representing old capital.
In the Bangkok Post about a month ago, there was a set of stories that might add to this line of analysis. The first story was about “former Democrat Party secretary-general” Suthep Thaugsuban, now the frontman for the anti-democracy movement, and his family.
PPT was intrigued to learn that Suthep’s wife is Srisakul Promphan. Back in 2009, The Nation described her this way:
The case of Srisakul Promphan, mistress of Deputy Prime minister and Democrat secretary-general Suthep Thaugsuban, has also been the rounds.
Suthep did not file an asset declaration for Srisakul to the National Anti-Corruption Commission, saying they were not married. The opposition plans to take up the morality of this on the floor of the House.
Srisakul, a former star of Chulalongkorn University, is the sister of PM’s secretary-general and Democrat deputy leader Niphon Promphan and divorced from Porntep Techapaibul, a former Democrat who is now in the Ruam Jai Thai Chart Pattana Party.
A Facebook post states that her first marriage was to Krit Rattanarak, but we are unable to confirm this.Also unconfirmed is a statement at New Mandala that one of the Promphans bunked in with Prince Vajiralongkorn when students in Australia.
Suthep is obviously well-connected, with this photo (left) showing, from left, Niran Promphan, Sukanya Promphan, Suthikiati Chirathivat, Danapat Promphan, Thippawan Limsakdakul, Suthep Thaugsuban, Srisakul Promphan, Suthichai Chirathivat, Teevee Limsakdakul, Virat Limsakdakul, and Supatra Chirathivat.
Add together the names Tejapaibul, Ratanarak and Chirathivat, and some of the biggest Sino-Thai capitalists are connected to Suthep and his family, itself having large holdings and big businesses in the south.
Mrs Srisakul’s son, Akanat Promphan, is close to his step-father. He has resigned as a Democrat Party MP along with Mr Suthep to lead the protesters and works as Mr Suthep’s personal secretary, according to a source close to the family….
Before he became an MP for the first time, Mr Akanat worked as Mr Suthep’s political secretary….
Tan Thaugsuban, Mr Suthep’s eldest biological son, serves as his father’s bodyguard at the protest site.
The source said normally Mr Tan takes care of his family’s Sri Suban farm and other businesses in the southern province of Surat Thani.
Perhaps the big business connections are a reason why the protesters have “many food stands are sponsored by protest leaders and financiers,” and why they “have mountains of donated goods _ from drinking water to gas masks to swimming goggles to rice sacks.”
However, if dueling capitalists is not the motivation one seeks for explaining anti-democracy, how about long-held royalist hatred of anyone seen to diminish the charisma, political and economic power of the monarchy. The same Post story says that:
Given the political upheaval, the Krairiksh siblings _ Democrat Party MP for Phitsanulok Juti and his sister, senator Pikulkaew _ feel there is no better time to dust off their grandfather’s book and have it reprinted.
Authored by “Lt Jongkol Krairiksh, a former deputy House speaker and a three-time MP for Phitsanulok, under the pseudonym ‘Saowarak’,” the book is a royalist account of the 1932 Revolution by a man who “arrested and imprisoned for 11 years for his involvement in the Baworndej [Boworadej] revolt,” a restorationist rebellion supported by King Prajadhipok in 1933. The book whitewashes the event and paints democracy as chaotic.
Old feuds get replayed in current contexts.