Monarchy, bikes and dressing up

19 12 2018

There’s an avalanche of royal news this month, all of it meant to be flattering of the monarch. We can’t help but wonder how much this has to do with the junta’s “election.”

Readers will recall that the much-hyped royal bikeathon saw complaints, rumors, casualties, although not the politicized “deaths in custody” associated with the earlier iteration of this monarch-promoting propaganda event (see here and here). It seems that there has been yet another casualty, with the king, adopting a strategy from his father, and making “good” out of this by appearing as a benefactor.

The other event associated with the king and heavily promoted by the military junta is the dress-up festival celebrating the “good old days” of absolute monarchy. Called something like “Love and Warmth at Winter’s End, the River of Rattanakosin,” it is officially promoted as hugely popular, having “[t]hrongs of Thai and foreign visitors…”. The propaganda element for the monarchy is explicit:

Inspired by the reigning monarch, HM King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun of Thailand, the festival, the second of its kind, aims to cultivate love and unity among Thai people as well as illustrate the long-standing bond between the royal institution [they mean monarchy] and the people of Thailand.

This is also a junta mantra that is easily exploited in election campaigning.

There’s also some small commercial benefit, as the “festival features shops overseen by royal family members…”, which links to royal whims and some royal projects. These events are centered on the king’s still-being-created grand palace precinct. Then there’s the fact that even though taxpayer funds underpin the royal event, “[p]roceeds will be used to help the underprivileged and the needy in all regions of Thailand.” Of course this is another tried-and-true palace tactic to multiply the propaganda gains through the manufactured notion that the world’s wealthiest monarch is the country’s and the poors’ benefactor.

How successful the event is cannot be determined because of the lese majeste law and the junta’s repression. However, in another tip of the collective PPT hat to Andrew MacGregor Marshall, he shows how state agencies are ordered to send people to attend the event, each and every day and at taxpayer expense. Here we include clips from his post.

Not so flattering of the taxpayer-funded self-promoting royals is a story at Khaosod about a fashion blogger who has had to issue grovelling apologies for “insulting” a royal.

In recent years, the very mid-20th century Miss Universe parade of women has featured bizarre and nationalist “fashions.” Our vote for the weirdest goes to the 2015 Miss Thailand dressed as a tuk-tuk.

Internet TV show host Wanchaleom Jamneanphol  was criticized for asking why there was so much online “ridiculing [of] a poorly received red dress worn by Miss Thailand” but deafening silence “about another of her gowns designed by Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana”, one of the king’s daughters.

Over the years, she’s been credited with all manner of superhuman skills and abilities. Only diehard royalists believe this propaganda, but no one dares criticize a royal.

When Wanchaleom appeared critical, the ultra-royalists were outraged. Kitjanut Chaiyosburana, a member of the Mahachon Party lodged an official complaint with the police. Like all ultra-royalists, the candidate for the junta’s election saw no distinction between monarchy and nation, declaring:

I cannot accept that a well-known individual in the online world expressed negative opinions that affect the country’s reputation! I don’t think it’s the right thing to do. It’s irresponsible behavior.

Hardly anyone had ever heard of him or his junta-supporting party, but this leaping to the defense of a king’s kid who simply must be the best will get him attention.

Meanwhile, Wanchaleom immediately “wrote an apology addressed to the princess and said she had no intention to insult the monarchy.” She declared:

Your Royal Highness Sirivannavari Nariratana, I, Wanchaleom Jamneanphol, did not have any intention to insult or disrespect the high institution. I merely did not know the full consequences of my actions via my posts and comments, which caused damage to Your Royal Highness and the monarchy…. I deeply regret and feel guilty for my actions.

The king has been reluctant to allow any new cases of lese majeste prior to his coronation – bad luck and a bad image – but he has always strongly policed he and his family’s “reputation,” so it will be interesting to see where this little bit of ultra-royalist nonsense leads.


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23 12 2018
International media on monarchy and military | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] The most recent case involves a blogger who commented on a frock “designed” by one of the king’s daughters, Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana. PPT couldn’t give a fig about the dress, but the controversy caused by a dopey royalist political candidate laying a complaint has caught the attention of the international media. Here are some of the stories: […]

23 12 2018
International media on monarchy and military | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] The most recent case involves a blogger who commented on a frock “designed” by one of the king’s daughters, Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana. PPT couldn’t give a fig about the dress, but the controversy caused by a dopey royalist political candidate laying a complaint has caught the attention of the international media. Here are some of the stories: […]