Kooky king, lese majeste and opponents

30 08 2019

Back in 2016, the New York Post described Vajiralongkorn as a “kooky king.” The same newspaper had another eye-catching headline: “Thailand’s new king is a kooky crop top-wearing playboy.” Of course, such descriptions downplay the fear associated with an erratic, neo-feudal, nasty and grasping king (see here, here, here, here and here, for examples).

The recent exposure of the king’s ardent promotion of his senior concubine has created another round of stories on the king’s eccentricities. One summary is at the Insider is of an “eccentric king.” A similar “playboy king” story is at MEAWW . In a story on the consort photos at Rolling Stone, one academic notes the similarities in the approach to royal publicity used elsewhere in the world, a point PPT made a couple of days ago.

At the same time, however, there are recent stories that show the nastier nature of the monarch. One story comes from exiled anti-royalist dissidents who have staged a rally in Paris to remember the plight of eight missing comrades, believed “disappeared” by the royalist Thai state. The participants included the Faiyen band.

Clipped from AsiaNews

The report states:

At the Paris rally, the musicians played some satirical songs full of political nuances about King Rama X, who succeeded his father in 2016. Other songs targeted Thai generals, who took power five years ago with the blessing of the Royal Palace and have kept it even after disputed elections last March.

It reminds readers that:

Since December 2018, six exiles holding anti-monarchist opinion disappeared under suspicious circumstances. Families assume they are dead and blame Thai special forces for their death.

Clipped from Thai Alliance for Human Rights website

And, it adds that two mutilated bodies of exiles have been found while Surachai Danwattananusorn is still missing, believed murdered.

In Thailand, officials have not investigated the murders or the missing. This is usually a sign of some kind of royal involvement in the grisly events.

In another important report, Prachatai summarizes a Thai Lawyers for Human Rights analysis of lese majeste prisoners who remain in jail. The report states that in August 2019:

there are at least 25 people still imprisoned throughout the country on charges under Article 112 in cases related to freedom of expression. This number does not include those charged under Article 112 in cases related to fraud or personal interest.

It must be emphasized that those charged with lese majeste for “fraud” or “personal interest” probably include several who were previously related to the palace and the king’s third wife, Srirasmi, who has been under house arrest since late 2014. The real number of lese majeste prisoners remains unknown. That affirmed, Prachatai’s graphic is worth reproducing:


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4 09 2019
Murder, impunity | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] One post came soon after his “disappearance” after being detained in Kaeng Krachan National Park by park officials on bogus charges. The post noted that Billy’s “disappearance” came after he filed a lawsuit that accused Kaeng Krachan Park authorities of damaging the property and homes of more than 20 Karen families living inside the park, suggesting that state officials were (again) solving “problems” by enforced disappearance. (We have seen this again recently with the murder and disappearance of several anti-monarchy activists.) […]

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