No transparency, royal privilege, corruption

21 09 2021

There’s been almost no mainstream discussion of how it is that a jumped-up royal plaything like the so-called Chulabhorn Royal Academy (CRA) became a player in the country’s virus vaccine program. That’s not unexpected in a country run by a dictatorial royalist regime. No discussion of the hows or whys. No discussion of appropriateness. And, no discussion of how this “institute” can traipse off and conclude contracts here and there with no public scrutiny.

That lack of transparency and scrutiny is why the “Academy” can be spoofed and used for corrupt activities. Sure, there have been other examples of corruption in the virus response, but this “Academy” is above scrutiny and investigation simply because it is the plaything of a self-indulgent royal.

But things got so bad, that the only body that can talk about corruption is the so-called academy itself. As The Nation reports, the “Academy” has gone to the Department of Special Investigation after it “learned about a group of fraudsters that has tricked people out of millions by posing as the Chulabhorn Royal Academy…”.

Academy deputy secretary-general Wanlop Yutithamdamrong “said the group had created fake CRA Line and Facebook accounts to dupe people into paying for their alternative Covid-19 shot. The group insisted all transfers be made via PromptPay, which is not used by the actual CRA.”

He claimed that the “fraudsters had stolen a list of people who had been vaccinated by hacking into a hospital’s system. The hospital, which is part of the CRA vaccination campaign, filed a complaint when it learned of the hacking.”

Sounding suspicious yet?

The Bangkok Post adds that the fraudsters had received “millions of baht.”

Wanlop tells us that the “Academy” has known of the scam for a very long time: “We obtained information that the scammers began using social media accounts to deceive people after the CRA imported the first lot of Sinopharm vaccines.” But guess what? “[W]e had no clear evidence against them. They talked to groups of people via the accounts about the acquisition of the vaccine and persuaded them to place orders and transfer payment, claiming the buyers would get the vaccine at a lower price than that set by the CRA…”.

The “Academy” is being scammed and there are fake websites and social media accounts but “no clear evidence.” Sounds suspicious to us.

As an aside, we noticed that in photos accompanying the reports of the DSI visit, the “Academy” people are wearing lapel badges of Princess Chulabhorn. We hadn’t seen these before – maybe we weren’t looking. Previously badges of Prince Dipangkorn designated being close to the king. It seems Chulabhorn has decided to develop her own labels of loyalty. They, too, can be scammed.

Previous cases of royal scamming have sometimes come to light and have led to lese majeste charges.


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