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.





Did something happen before the bike event?

12 12 2018

Recently we posted a comment about Andrew MacGregor Marshal’s Facebook page, where he’d spent considerable effort linking to social media posts complaining about delays, road closures, river closures and more associated with the king’s recent cycle around Bangkok. He also wrote that the king showed up several hours late. We said we hadn’t seen that material reported elsewhere, but understood that Thailand’s media fears dire consequences if they do.

At that time, we’d noticed a comment on AMM’s post saying something odd had happened. It seems AMM investigated further, and while nothing has appeared in the Thai media, there was a security breach. And, no, the king didn’t get shot in the bum again.

Clicking the next link takes the reader to a copy of the AMM’s Facebook post, probably illegal in Thailand, and refers to a retired soldier rushing towards the king.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fzenjournalist%2Fposts%2F10156477537256154&width=500

 





Royal bike ride bigger than Ben Hur

30 11 2018

It is getting bigger than Ben Hur. The royal “warmth” and “love” bike ride is now having its second rehearsal, following the “opening” of the route around the airport earlier this month, with the arrangements for getting the royal free stuff are highly complex.

We guess this might be a way of avoiding the Bike for Dad problems, including an alleged assassination plot and two deaths in custody.

The news is coming thick and fast on this royal event, which must also be an event the junta wants to see go well as any problem could be seen as an ill omen for the upcoming “election.”

The king recently ordered a ceremony where he “graciously bestowed t-shirts and drinking water for the benefit of participants in the upcoming Bike Un Ai Rak event.” That means his minions arranged the distribution of the stuff into the government hierarchy and it will presumably be handed to lower ranks until it eventually gets to the participants at the bottom of the feeding chain.

The reporting reflects an anal retentive atmosphere at the palace, noting that the “ceremony was held at the 606 Building of the Royal Household Bureau in Sanam Suea Pa.” The king’s most important minion, ACM Satitpong Sukvimol, the Director-General of the Crown Property Bureau and Lord Chamberlain “presided” over a “dedication ceremony on behalf of … the King…”.

Reflecting how much of a big deal this is, the “Supreme Commander, Permanent Secretary of the Prime Minister’s Office and Governors from all 76 provinces of the Kingdom received the t-shirts, which will be distributed to the participants in the nation-wide biking event…”. The shirts are significant because the king “personally designed the t-shirt,” which come with his cartoons on them. These look a lot like the stick figures that once became common as stickers on the backs of SUVs.

Dozens of roads are to be closed for 7 hours, for both rehearsal and event, causing major traffic problems and the deployment of tens of thousands of police, bureaucrats and soldiers. Rehearsals also have to be held in all provinces.

The military has had separate security rehearsals:

Army Region 1 Commander Lt Gen Narongphan Jitkaeotae has conducted a rehearsal of security detail for … the King as well as protection of riders in the Bike Un Ai Rak event. The rehearsal included congestion, 20 risk spots, hard turns, inclines, narrow passes and steep roads. Soldiers have installed signs to warn riders where they need to slow down to between 15 and 20 kph, and placed special warnings 200 and 50 meters ahead of risk spots. More personnel will be stationed on the day to advise participants on safety.

The expense for all of this lauding of the king and polishing his image is huge.





Bike for Dad “Plotters”

17 07 2016

112Thanakrit Thongngernperm, Nattapon Na-wanlae, Wanlop Boonchan and Weerachai Chaboonmee are suspects in the alleged Bike for Dad “terrorist plot” who is also charged under the lese majeste law.

Initial reports were that the suspects arrested and accused of lese majeste and computer crimes were Pol Sgt-Major Prathin Chanket, who was formerly with the Border Patrol Police, Pissanu Phromsorn and Nattapon.

In late November, a list of suspects was published: Nattapon, Prathin, Phitsanu Promsorn, 58, Wanlop, 33, Chatchai Sriwongsa, 24, Meechai Muangmontree, 49, Thanakrit, 49, Weerachai, 33, and Pahiran Kongkham, 44.

Yet by early 2016, the names listed in reports were Nattapon, Wanlop and Weerachai. In the end, this opaque case, with fit-ups, frame-ups and confusion means that it is not clear how many of the suspects face lese majeste charges. It could be 1, 3, or even 9.

Military prosecutors from the Judge Advocate General’s Department charged them with under Article 112 and crimes under Article 14 of the 2007 Computer Crime Act for allegedly contacting each other online while planning to stage an attack on the Bike for Dad propaganda cycling rally.

These three were arrested and detained from late November 2015. Police Commissioner said that in total there were nine suspects in the case, most of whom are associated with the so-called Khon Kaen Model uprising that was never established, dating from soon after the coup in 2014. The main point is to ensure that the “plotters” are considered red shirts.

Police claimed that one of the planned operations by the group was the assassination of General Prayuth Chan-ocha, the junta leader.Another police allegation was that Pol Sgt Maj Prathin and Nattapon and seven others were plotting to stage “terrorist attacks” and capture military and police camps as well as government installations in many northeastern provinces.

Police claimed that these cases involved lese majeste because the suspects had been contacting each other via Line Chat Application to prepare the terrorist plot on the auspicious event for the King.

The suspects claimed innocence.

The case became murkier when it was revealed that Thanakrit, who the authorities claimed claimed was “on the run,” had in fact been incarcerated in a Khon Kaen jail since mid-2014 as a “Khon Kaen Model plotter.”

The deliciously dumb response from the junta came initially from General Prawit Wongsuwan. He said that:

… although Thanakrit was in prison he must have done something against the law, otherwise the court would not have approved the warrant for his arrest…. He might have been in some communication (with outsiders). Ask him. He must have done something wrong. The court must have gone through all the requested warrants individually before approving them. A warrant can’t simply be issued without legal backing….

Meanwhile, the Director of the Central Correctional Facility in Khon Kaen confirmed that Thanakrit would have been unable to engage in external plotting, saying that it is strictly forbidden for inmates to use mobile phones and illustrated that a signal would ring immediately if the prison phone interception devices detect phone signals coming from the cells and that signal blockers operate.

Thanakrit’s lawyers threatened legal action against the authorities. For this action, the police filed charges against the lawyer Benjarat Meetian and Thanakrit was transferred from Khon Kaen to a remand black site in the 11th Military Base on Rama V Road in Bangkok.

Media accounts of the “plotters”:

The Nation, 20 March 2016: “Lawyer complains to EU about ‘intimidation’

Prachatai, 24 February 2016: “Suspects in alleged terrorist plot indicted for lèse majesté

Prachatai, 6 January 2016: “Prisoner transferred to jail in army base over lèse majesté conversation

Bangkok Post, 30 November 2015: “Prawit: Warrant for behind-bars suspect approved by court

Bangkok Post, 28 November 2015: “‘Khon Kaen Model’ suspect to counter-sue

Bangkok Post, 26 November 2015: “Prayut and Prawit targeted for violent attack

Bangkok Post, 26 November 2015: “Police seek Khon Kaen ‘unrest plotters’

The Nation, 25 November 2015: “Three held for plotting attacks during ‘Bike for Dad’

 





Another Bike for Dad victim

24 01 2016

The military regime’s toadies must feel that sufficient time has passed following the bad publicity associated with the deaths in custody of “lese majeste” suspects Suriyan Sujaritpalawong and Prakrom Warunprapha to get back to the case.

The Bangkok Post reports that a “warrant has been issued for the arrest of a former deputy chief of the Crime Suppression Division (CSD) with an alleged link to a high-profile lese majeste case.”

Police Colonel Siwapong Patpongpanit is reportedly facing “charges of negligence of duty in connection with the possession of police radio communication devices.” Police Major Prakrom is said to have requested 100 “radio communication devices.” It isn’t clear if the devices were requested for the Bike for Mom/Bike for Dad events or for duties associated with Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn or something else. (We do know that the prince has plenty of communication devices, with all of his many cars have a multitude of aerials.)

The late Pol Maj Prakrom was said to have “more than 200 radio communication devices…”. That’s a lot of communicating!

The police allege that “Pol Col Siwapong, then the deputy CSD chief, handed over the devices to his fellow officer…”.

He has “been under a police watch for suspected links with a lese majeste network led by celebrity fortune-teller Suriyan…. Pol Col Siwapong was transferred to the Central Investigation Bureau before voluntarily resigning from the police service.”

This report reminds us that Jirawong Wattanathewasilp remains in custody. This is odd given that palace-related “lese majeste” cases have generally been resolved in record time, with the “suspects” pleading guilty and immediately being sentenced.





Bike for Dad “success”

13 12 2015

The Dictator and royal bootlicker General Prayuth Chan-ocha has declared the Bike for Dad event a “great success , in correspondence with the aspirations of … Crown Prince … Vajiralongkorn…”.

The usual claims of huge support are made:

The actual number of people taking part has not been released, but 703,792 cyclists were officially registered nationwide, including 99,999 in Bangkok.

No one will ever know the truth because palace and royalist propaganda demands that there must have been huge support for every royal event.

But what are the numbers on this great “success”?

A Public Health Ministry report obtained by the Bangkok Post showed that one person died and 528 accidents were recorded during the event. A student was killed and 20 others injured when a truck carrying students and teachers who had taken part in the event was struck by a pickup in Nakhon Ratchasima on Friday night.

Bangkok led in accidents with 177 cases, followed by Chon Buri and Khon Kaen with 20 each, Samut Prakan (19) and Chai Nat (15)….

When we add that death and remarkable number of accidents to the related deaths in custody and associated lese majeste arrests, “assassination plot” arrests and those who have fled, and celebrating “dad” seems to have quite a body count.





The Bike for Dad infection

5 12 2015

So many officials and others have been charged with lese majeste, jailed, died in custody, gone into hiding or fled the country over the royal Bike for Mom/Bike for Dad escapades that PPT was surprised to see that Deputy Prime Minister General Tanasak Patimapragorn lead “representatives of both the public and private sectors to accept commemorative shirts of the BIKE FOR DAD campaign.”

General Tanasak presided over the ceremony to receive royally-granted shirts for the event supposedly organized by Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn to celebrate his parents, the king and queen. Neither have been sighted for some time, and rumors continue to swirl about their health and how they are maintained in this life. Doctors claim the king is alive and at Siriraj hospital and can do things like watch television.

The king is meant to turn 88 today. This years seems to be the lowest key birthday for many, many years. Change is upon Thailand.

The Bike for Dad event is apparently in trouble. General Tanasak was forced to express “confidence in the readiness of all units for the … event. He insisted that every single problem discovered will be fixed in time, adding that a rehearsal of various ceremonies to take place at the Royal Plaza will be held on December 9.” A security rehearsal is to be arranged by the police tomorrow.

This event is hugely expensive as well as jinxed by the arrests, deaths and more. The “celebration” seems to have been overcome by scandal, corruption and the military junta’s determination for it to go ahead. We can’t help wondering who else will be infected by the Bike for Dad ignominious fiasco.





Bike for dad still on

29 10 2015

Believe it or not, but the event linked to a supposedly huge conspiracy to use the name of the monarchy for personal gain and wealth, is still on.

The Thailand propaganda news agency, NNT, reports that “Thai Embassies and Consulates have invited Thais living abroad to take part in the ‘Bike For Dad’ event to be held on December 11 this year.”

Bike for dad

So lets get this right… At least three, perhaps four, maybe dozens, of persons have been arrested, charged with lese majeste, died in military custody or are being investigated. Those accused, dead and alive, were all somehow linked to Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn’s Bike for Mom and Bike for Dad palace propaganda exercises. Those events have been supported to the hilt by The Dictator and his lot. Despite this national scandal, the event is continuing to be promoted as if nothing untoward has happened.

It certainly isn’t Denmark, but something has a certain whiff to it.





On ya bikes (again)

1 10 2015

The Crown Prince, or perhaps the shadowy group advising him, seem to think that Bike for Mom was a great success in promoting monarchy, prince and The Dictator.

Succession is getting serious when royals on bikes is going to be repeated.

Khaosod reports that the loyalty stuff is being used for making the soon-to-be king. It states that Vajiralongkorn is “set to lead another mass cycling event to honor his father…”. This advice is said to be from “the prince’s royal aides.”

From Khaosod

From Khaosod

This utterly breathtaking news for die-hard monarchists was leaked by Suriyan Sujaritpalawong, said to be “a close aide to the 60-year-old Crown Prince and a chief organizer of the Bike For Mom event…”.

For dadSuriyan has previously released photos of the prince and his son and has made claims that the prince has “designed” a bike for a disabled kid, linking the prince to the mythology about his allegedly talented father.

Khaosod adds that the “Royal Household Bureau, which manages affairs related to the Royal Family, has yet to make an official statement on the matter, and the event’s official website seen in Suriyan’s post does not appear to have been registered yet.”

Something is emerging in these events and leaks.





Dinosaurs on bikes

17 08 2015

A few days ago PPT posted on institutional and constitutional measures being put in place to replace the king. Yesterday, we posted on the Bike for Mum palace-military propaganda event. Little did we realize how significant this event would be in flagging the future.

We did mention that The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, declared the event a display of loyalty and that other prized royalist commodity, unity.

Today’s reports, however, speak to something bigger than this.

The Nation reports that there were “[v]ast number[s] of cyclists … in Bangkok and round the country…”. They write of “hundreds of thousands … in a record show of loyalty led by HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn.” Figures are quoted: “Almost 295,000 people registered in advance for the ‘Bike For Mom’ event, consisting of 40,000 in Bangkok and 254,863 in the provinces, but the actual number of participants nationwide was higher, estimated at between 300,000 and 400,000.” Of course, the riders were headed up by royals, The Dictator and the the puppets, reminding us of dinosaurs on bikes and trikes.Dinosaurs on bikes

The Bangkok Post came up with exactly the same official number:  294,863 riders. It turns out that this is the number of people who allegedly registered to participate. That newspaper’s video of the Bangkok event seems not to indicate the 40,000. Pictures at The Nation suggest more of a crowd showed up.  An earlier estimate was that there would be 80,000 in Bangkok.

The Nation cites several participants: the Village Scouts director, an 82-year-old Ruenkham Saen-in woman, a grandmother, an American, an Air Force officer and an Army officer.” In the Bangkok Post, one person descroibed the event as one that allowed the “world to see that Thais chose to ride bicycles as their way of expressing their love for the monarchy.”

More than this, the event became a show of loyalty to the crown prince, with the newspapers expressing this in whole articles of a tone that is usually reserved for the prince’s birthday splash propaganda.

Describing the prince as a “keen long-distance cyclist,” the Bangkok Post said that he “rallied the entire country Sunday behind a campaign to mark … the Queen’s birthday…”. It goes on to babble about his “passion” for flying and using his “aviation skills in fund-raising events, having piloted special flights to raise money for charity,” and scouting about for “events.” It mentioned charity flights in 2007, 2010 and 2012.

All of this sounds very much like the creation of kingly mythology, with little to work with. We are sure the dinosaurs consider such exercises to be useful for them and the regime.








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