Coronation spending

1 05 2019

According to Reuters, the state’s official and announced budget – taxpayer funds – for the coronation is $31 million. But the true cost is likely to be several times this as various agencies are required to purchase stuff, ordering tens of thousands of officials to line the procession route, and all of the “advertising” for the king and what a great man he has already been in his 66 years. The latter is the manufacturing of image.

As an example of the massive cost, AFP reports on a small town mayor who spent “$6,400 and a 12-hour drive … to pick up the shrine and towering portrait of Thailand’s king which will stand in the centre of town — a small part of a massive palace publicity campaign for this weekend’s coronation.”

The mayor said: “Every government office across the country will do the same…”. Even villages are urged to have displays of loyalty.

Celebrating? Worrying?

The portraits of King Vajiralongkorn are now ubiquitous. Some of the images are large, “some several-metres high, and decorations are mandatory at every state office ahead of his three-day coronation…”.

The report states that the “most elaborate set-ups include the gilded-framed portrait, a large pedestal, flags, cone-shaped “pan phum” floral tributes and bunting in various shades of yellow…”. These can cost several thousand dollars.

As expected, roads throughout Thailand are “now flanked by the projection of royal power, intended to reflect the country’s devotion, loyalty and respect to the monarch.”

No questions can be asked about that devotion, loyalty and respect. As the report observes, “[c]ritics of the monarchy are rarely heard inside the country…”.

Because Vajiralongkorn is less known than his father was and because he “spends much of his time abroad,” the state makes the new king’s image ubiquitous and it “has slowly seeped into everyday life — on buildings, banknotes and stamps…”. And, of course, he now has his own “story” that is repeated again and again at the movies, in newspapers and on television.


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