King, virus and a propaganda war

3 05 2020

A new article at Deutsche Welle and variations elsewhere should cause royalists and the military-backed regime some angst.

Articles with stark headlines that will poke the royalist bear. These include: “Thailand’s king living in luxury quarantine while his country suffers” and “Thailand’s king a ‘disaster’ in the corona crisis.” By quoting opponents of the monarchy like Andrew MacGregor Marshall and Somsak Jeamteerasakul will increase the bear’s rage.

The DW article doesn’t have much that will be new for PPT’s readers, they do package some interesting material to show that the king is remote from Thailand and widely disliked. Marshall is quoted as describing Vajiralongkorn a “troubled, sadistic and authoritarian monarch…”. The article observes rising criticism of the monarch in Thailand:

Despite the risks [of lese majeste and other laws], a tweet from exiled historian Somsak Jeamteerasakul circulated in Thai social media at the end of March, showing the king’s flight path to Germany and asking in Thai: “What do we need a king for?” It was quickly shared thousands of times and was a trending topic for weeks.

And for a long time, several popular memes have circulated. A particularly biting example uses HBO’s Game of Thrones: “We don’t go serving some shit king who’s only king because his father was.”

… Some users even went so far as to implicitly demand the abolition of the monarchy: “Honestly, I already want to have a president.”

Expounding on the symbiosis between monarchy and military the report states:

The unloved king needs the military and its government to secure his power. The military relies on the king, because it is easier to come to terms with a monarch ruling for life than with a constantly changing set of politicians and parties in a democratic system.

The royalists and regime have little to respond with, because the king is nowhere to be seen and his reputation is rubbish. So they have tried to burnish the king’s image by seeming to claim he’s in the country.

On social media there have been a few fake images of the king cleaning and sanitizing streets, seemingly with the Army. Officially, the military has published photos of the king and queen watching and helping Royal Guards making masks and other equipment. These photos are now available from the Daily Mail.

The report doesn’t make it clear that the photos are from the king’s 20 hour visit to Thailand in early April, implying that the king and queen are in Thailand: “The couple’s appearance at the regiment comes just a month after the King jetted off to Bavaria in Germany.”

Others have shown that the photos were old, using the date-stamps embedded in the photos, which was 6 April. After this was revealed, the photos released appear to have been edited for date.

The Daily Mail headline is “Thailand’s king and queen inspect PPE made by the military in front of groveling army chief – weeks after royal ‘self-isolated’ with 20 concubines at German hotel.” It mentions Gen Apirat Kongsompong again in the text:

King, queen and the groveling Army boss (clipped from the Daily Mail)

Pictures show an army chief grovelling on the floor as he bows down before the ruler. Others soldiers were also spotted crawling on their knees as the monarchs strolled around the regiment.

It is noted that the king’s “self-isolation in Germany was met with anger by thousands of Thai people…”.

Ardent royalists will try to believe everything and anything that is positive about the king and his dysfunctional family. But the king’s long absences raises important questions about legitimacy. More importantly, it remains to be seen how much longer the military will hold fast to and grovel before a monarch who is failing to do his job.


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