More monarchy indoctrination needed

26 12 2020

While the military’s regime continues to use “law” to repress anti-monarchism, The Nation reports the ultraroyalist Thai Pakdee group is demanding more royalist  indoctrination.

One might puzzle as to how “more” is even possible in a land simply flooded by palace propaganda. But, for the ultras, floods can be ever deeper, drowning out anti-royalism.

The mad monarchists, led by the man with the golden ear, Warong Dechgitvigrom, have “submitted a letter to Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan on Wednesday, asking him to launch five measures to promote protection of national institutions.” Here, they mean nation, religion and monarchy.

The group’s leader, Warong Dechgitvigrom, said the move aimed to prevent politicians and activist networks from using teachers and students as tools to encroach on the “three pillars” of nation, religion and the monarchy.

The proposals for the monarchy are based on their belief that unnamed “politicians” are behind the students, manipulating them. They usually mean Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and his colleagues, but deep yellow social media also mumbles about Thaksin Shinawatra.

Thai Pakdee wants to keep “politicians” and “activists” off campus, school staff to “support” the “institutions,” while not supporting the same “politicians” and “activists,” and for schools and their administrators to be held responsible for “any activities held under their jurisdiction that encroach on national institutions.”

You get the picture. This is royalist fascism, allowing royalists to determine who is not sufficiently royalist and repressing them. School administrators are threatened. To add to the general impression of enveloping, suffocating royalist fascism, the mad monarchists demand that the Education Ministry “improve the curriculum to promote pride in being Thai” and increase indoctrination of staff.

Book burning is probably the next step.

As might be expected, the Minister for Education gave the royalists his support.





Sharp right turn

28 09 2020

About a week ago, PPT posted on an op-ed by rabid anti-Thaksinista and supporter of everything yellow, Veera Prateepchaikul where he seemed to have reached a political crossroads as he praised the behavior of activists and even boosted their causes and demands as reasonable.

But something changed. At the crossroads he turned sharp right. Veera’s latest op-ed is suddenly anti-student activist, declaring the 19-20 September rally “anything but a success.” Where he previously praised the protesters for compromising when handing over the petition, he now damns them as failures.

Conservative commentators are getting back into yellow formation to attack the students.

Veera now thinks that the rally was a measure of the regime’s power. It can ignore the protests: “The sudden twist in parliament … when government MPs joined senators to stall the vote on six proposed charter amendments … is a clear indication these legislators are not treating the protesters as seriously as they were before the rally.”

The rightist mantra now says the rally “was not as big as was predicted.” But, here’s the main point that is driving the rightist response and lie: “More important … most of the protesters were not students, but red-shirt followers — many of whom were said to have been mobilised by a political party.”

Red shirts did not make up the majority of protesters and there was no secret that the student leaders had called on red shirts to join the rally. For Veera and others, this raises the Thaksin Shinawatra threat. And away they go into rabid attacks.

This comes as the junta/regime is working hard to bribe and coax more Puea Thai Party MPs to its side or perhaps even the whole party.





Times have changed

21 09 2020

Veera Prateepchaikul is a former editor of the Bangkok Post and his most recent op-ed is a remarkable reflection of how times have changed.

Previously a rabid anti-Thaksinista and supportive of most yellow shirt causes, he seems to have reached a crossroads. We gather that this might be reflective of a broader trend.

He lauds the protesters, government and police, all of whom he says have “shown extraordinary patience in avoiding hostile confrontations…”. Putting them in a different camp from those he hated in the past, Veera says, “Frankly, I admire their iron will, honesty and aspirations for true democracy.”

Veera reckons some of the “speakers were provocative” on the monarchy, but considers the 10 demands for reform of the monarchy quite reasonable, even if “easier said than done because of the fierce opposition from hardcore royalists.”

Royal Household Bureau via Khaosod

He reckons the protesters “can claim credit for opening the lid on the subject of monarchy, which has been a taboo for most Thais for decades.” And, he considers that “[m]ore Thais … will be emboldened to discuss the issue more openly, if not publicly.”

As The Economist stated recently:

Challenging the cult of the monarchy breaks a taboo. But the 68-year-old king is widely (if quietly) reviled as extravagant, capricious and cruel. He has seized control of vast royal assets and meddled in political and military appointments. He usually isn’t even in Thailand but in Germany, where he has a floor at an upscale hotel near Munich. He shuttles to his queen in Switzerland in one of the Boeing 737s at his disposal. Though he once threw a consort, a nurse turned military pilot, into prison, he has recently rehabilited her, Europe’s tabloid press reports, to serve in his harem of “sex soldiers”. No word of sympathy has crossed the king’s lips over his subjects’ hardship during the pandemic.

So while diehard royalists may find the students provocative, it seems they reflect a broader unease with the king.

Veera seems in this camp, stating: “after reading the students’ 10-point manifesto carefully with an open mind, I personally found several of them to be reasonable.”

He seems to consider the king to have demonstrated that he is unreasonable and the self-censorship practiced in Thailand is not preventing people from knowing what’s happening:

Social media has given many people access to materials about the monarchy which had not been previously available through Thailand’s mainstream media outlets…. This is the reason why some Thais who used to revere the high institution have decided to switch camps.

He concludes: “For the good of this country and its people, the old establishment better heed the aspirations of our youth.”

How things have changed!





Jao accused of lom jao

15 08 2020

Since her dalliance with Thaksin Shinawatra, and her failed bid to stand for a pro-Thaksin political party, “Princess” Ubolratana has been viewed with some disquiet by ultra-royalists, anti-Thaksinites and other yellow-shirted ideologues.

Ubolratana, who “resigned” her royal status but still enjoys her “princessness” as a member of the royal family and the king’s elder sister, has come under vehement criticism for saying: “All citizens have the right to demand and express their voice because the country belongs to the citizens.”

That support for student protesters amounts to blasphemy for ultra-royalists, anti-Thaksinites and other yellow-shirted ideologues.

According to Khaosod, Thanainun Thanintsinsakul, an anchor on the rightist Nation TV, accused her of an act of mutiny against her dead father:

Have you forgotten your father, who built up civilization for 70 years and did everything for his royal subjects? Today, kids high on sniffing glue and history and attacking your father, but you are agreeing with them….

Doing the student’s work, Thanainun decided that royalness counted for nothing telling  Ubolratana to “think of her father, mother, little brother the King, and younger sister” before speaking.

Thanainun later came to his royalist senses and claimed “his Facebook was hacked, and he denied any involvement in the incident. His account is now deactivated.”

Another ultra-royalist also undermined the monarchy. Songklod Chuenchupol, known as “Captain Poo Kem,” and who has a big Facebook following, was bitter: “When you were a teenager, you made your parents sad. Now that you’re old, you’re plotting to destroy your family and the country…”.

Interesting times.





Double standards again and again

22 07 2020

Double standards are the politicized judiciary’s only standard. In another case of blatant double standards.

Khaosod reports that three men “who participated in a symbolic protest against the junta-sponsored charter referendum in 2016 were sentenced to four months in prison by a court on Tuesday.” The Criminal Court “found activists Piyarat “Toto” Chongthep, Jirawat Ekakkaranuwat, and Songtum Kaewpanphreuk guilty for ripping a ballot paper in a polling station and posting a video of the protest on the internet.”

While the sentence was suspended, “the defendants were fined 4,000 baht each.”

Piyarat said: “My feelings today remain unchanged. It was civil disobedience that I have to receive the consequences of today…. If I could turn back time, I would do it all over again. I’ve never regretted doing it.”

It was Piyarat who declared: “Down with dictatorship, long live democracy!” as he ripped up the ballot.

Why do we say double standards? It is worth recalling that, back in 2010, in a case from the 2006 election, rightist and yellow-shirted Chulalongkorn University political science lecturer Chaiyan Chaiyaporn was acquitted after he tore up ballot papers. The court found a technicality that meant it could let Chaiyan off the hook as he blatantly used the courts to highlight his anti-Thaksin Shinawatra campaign.

And then there’s the issue that the charter was a junta scheme for prolonging its rule – as has proved the case. That draft charter was put to a bogus referendum. But even after that the junta changed several sections, demonstrating that it was bogus. The changes were mostly prompted by the king’s desire to live in Germany and to control his palace world.





Updated: More political prisoners

28 06 2020

Along with every other media outlet, Khaosod reports that, on Friday, the Supreme Court upheld rulings by lower courts against five leaders of a July 2007 protest that marched from Sanam Luang to the taxpayer-funded residence of the then president of the king’s Privy Council, Gen Prem Tinsulanonda. The rally accused Prem of fomenting the 2006 military coup.

Nattawut Saikua, Veerakarn (then Veera) Musikapong, Weng Tojirakarn, Nopparut Worachitwuthikul, and Wiputhalaeng Pattanaphumthai were sentenced to two years and eight months in prison for “illegal assembly and using violence to resist police orders.”

Fellow UDD leader Thida Tawornsate Tojirakarn observed that these men are political prisoners. The five were immediately taken from the court to prison.

While the reports refer to the five as red shirts, it needs to be noted that the wearing of the color hadn’t taken off at this time and the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship-led rally and march had most people wearing yellow shirts, which was a display of “loyalty” following the 2006 60th anniversary of Bhumibol’s reign.

Another UDD leader, Jatuporn Promphan, reflected on the double standards in the judicial system: “I once said to them that on our way of fighting, it’s either death or imprisonment…. Over the past decade, we took turns getting in and out of the prison.” Jatuporn is “also due to stand trial on the same offense…”.

The double standards refer to the efforts by several royalist regimes supported by the pliant judiciary to lock up red shirts and UDD leaders while those from the royalist People’s Alliance for Democracy and People’s Democratic Reform Committee who also occupied parts of Bangkok and several state properties for extended periods, with considerable violence, get off quite lightly.

Few of the reports said much about the rally at Gen Prem’s free lodgings, so PPT went back and looked at reports from the time.

Asia Sentinel had a perceptive report. It began by observing:

On Sunday night, UDD leaders caught police unaware by marching with thousands of supporters to the house of Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda, a former army chief and prime minister who is held in high respect by much of the Thai public due to his proximity to the king.

King, queen, Prem and military coup leaders

The protesters accused Prem, who was in the compound at the time, of acting as the puppet master behind the coup last September that ousted Premier Thaksin Shinawatra. They called on Prem to resign.

The UDD set up a makeshift stage in front of Prem’s house on Sunday afternoon and made speeches for five hours or so, according to witnesses and news reports. But in the evening, after the protesters vowed to permanently camp outside the residence, riot police attempted to break up the gathering and arrest the leaders, prompting demonstrators to hail rocks, chairs, sticks, water bottles and pieces of broken flower pots at the police, who eventually retreated.

Most reports put the UDD crowd at 5,000 to 10,000, with some counting up to 20,000. The police eventually mobilized about 2,000 officers. The police:

made two more attempts to arrest the protest leaders, charging at  demonstrators with clubs, pepper spray and tear gas. Each time the demonstrators fought back with fists, rocks, sticks, bottles and anything else they could find.

Weng said the protesters withdrew when threatened with the army, saying, “We didn’t want anybody killed from this event.”

The police claimed that 200 of their officers and about 70 protesters were injured. Six protesters were arrested and charged with “causing chaos, obstructing the work of authorities, and damage to state property…. Police were also seeking arrest warrants for eight or so other UDD leaders…”.

The report wonders about the police action, saying:

It’s unclear why authorities attempted to break up the protest this time as many similar
protests had occurred earlier without incident. Some observers said the army may have been spooked by UDD statements that the group would camp out in front of Prem’s house — an unacceptable scenario for generals who swear allegiance to the royal advisor.

It also notes Prem’s coup role:

Although Prem is supposed to be non-political as a privy councilor, coup opponents blast the 86-year-old for a series of speeches he gave a year ago in which he donned full military garb and said soldiers should be loyal to the king instead of the government. Many observers said the speeches set the stage for the coup.

The Irrawaddy (July 23, 2007) carried a report that royalists declared Thaksin behind the UDD. The then president of the Constitution Drafting Committee Prasong Soonsiri, cheered the arrests, saying: “He [Thaksin] is probably responsible for supporting the clash, and he won’t stop there…”. This was a widely held view among the military-installed regime led by former Privy Councillor Gen Surayud Chulanont.

Shortly after the event, the Union for Civil Liberty issued a statement:

Declaration concerning the avoidance of violence during a conflict of opinion

During a protest by the Democratic Alliance Against Dictatorship (DADD) at the home of Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda in the Thewes district of Bangkok, there occurred violent clashes between police and demonstrators. Alleging the part played by General Prem in organizing the military coup of 19th September 2006, protestors called for his resignation. As a result of the clashes which took place in the late evening of Sunday 22nd July, according to news media, 106 persons were injured.

The Union for Civil Liberty (UCL) maintains that the holding of non-violent protest to make known a political viewpoint is a civil right and a fundamental component of the democratic system. It is the duty of government to assure that the right of citizens to exercise this right is respected at all times, whether their action is against or in support of government, or to express other political opinion.

It is a matter of great regret that the protest on 22nd July last could not enjoy such a right to free expression due to the action of the police in blocking the protest march to the residence of General Prem in the Thewes district. The action angered some participants in the protest leading to the use of force and many casualties both among the protestors and the police.

To avoid the recurrence of such violence, perhaps on an even larger scale, the Union for Civil Liberty submits the following proposals:

1. Appoint a committee of persons acceptable to the public to investigate the events which occurred on the evening of the 22nd July for presentation to the Government and to the public.

2. Take court action against those who have acted illegally, whether the police or the protestors, in order that justice be done and human rights be protected.

Statement issued on 23rd July 2007
Union for Civil Liberty

So, for seeking to exercise their freedom of expression, these men are jailed. The regime that went after them was a junta-appointed administration that was vehemently royalist and anti-Thaksin. The double standards are as clear as they ever were.

Update: For another take on double standards, especially in comparing red shirts and yellow shirts, read this op-ed.





Wealthy judge

13 06 2020

We noticed a short report in the Bangkok Post on the “National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) yesterday released a list of assets and liabilities of two former Constitutional Court judges and three new ones.”

It caught our attention that former judge Jaran (sometimes Jarun) Pukditanakul was the wealthiest of the five.” The report states that:

Jarun

Jaran and his spouse [Teepsurang Pukditanakul] have assets worth 206.1 million baht and debts of 22 million baht. Their assets include land plots in Songkhla’s Hat Yai worth 93 million baht while the debts include 14.9 million baht in loans from a woman identified as Jinda Sunthornpan.

The other judges, including a former president of the Constitutional Court, declared wealth much lower than this. We wondered why one judge and former Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Justice was so much wealthier than his colleagues. We suppose there could be family reasons for this or he might have won the lottery. But it set us thinking.

Jarun came to his position at the Ministry of Justice following the 2006 military coup and was renowned not so much for his legal qualifications but for being anti-Thaksin Shinawatra. When it came to becoming a judge, a 2008 Asia Sentinel article had this:

In selecting the first four of the court’s nine judges, the Supreme Court this week chose Jarun Pukditanakul. He became permanent secretary of the Justice Ministry after the coup and was instrumental in drafting the military’s 2007 constitution that he will be tasked to uphold.

Jarun was involved in several cases that did the amart’s work on Thaksin and his parties, causing much conflict with the pro-Thaksin groups, including the Puea Thai Party. Jarun wasn’t in the court at the time of the dissolution of Thai Rak Thai, but he was one of those who publicly justified the application of a new law retrospectively. On justifying that at a briefing for the diplomatic corps, a US cable explained:

Ministry of Justice Permanent Secretary Jaran Pakdithanakul, who also serves as deputy  chair of the Constitutional Drafting Committee (CDC), followed [Ministry of Foreign Affairs … Permanent Secretary Virasak Futrakul] by offering a detailed defense of the court case. Jaran explained that the Constitutional Tribunal was widely viewed as impartial and professional. No outside pressure or intervention influenced the judges’ decision. The charges against both TRT and the Democrat party were filed before the September 2006 coup. According to Jaran, the judges were unanimous in their finding of the facts of the case: that TRT leaders violated election law.

… Jaran acknowledged debate within the legal community–and the Tribunal–over TRT’s punishment. While election laws under the 1997 constitution provided for the dissolution of a political party guilty of legal violations, the revocation of certain political rights (voting, running for office) from 111 members of TRT’s executive board was established after the coup by the military leadership. Jaran admitted that this was a retroactive application of the law, but argued that, since this was not a criminal legal issue, it did not violate international legal norms.

This feeble “explanation,” justifying the unjustifiable, set in motion the double standards that have come to define Thailand’s judiciary.

This reminded us of the allegations of corruption at the court involving Jarun, money, relatives, commissions, covering-up and more, some of it caught on video and posted to YouTube. We won’t go back over it all, but we have added several links for those who are interested.

Of course, we wouldn’t dare say that all of this might be linked and that a pliant and supportive official-cum-judge might have been rewarded. Just saying that the links are interesting.





Coup booster promoted

26 04 2020

Long-time readers will recall that the 2014 military coup required months of street-based royalist, rightist, anti-Thaksin/anti-Shinawatra activism. Led by the loud-mouthed former Democrat Party deputy leader Suthep Thaugsuban, the People’s Democratic Reform Committee publicly pleaded and privately plotted with Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha throw out the elected government.

Suthep had several deputies, some of whom now working with the regime and having well-paid sinecures, with others having been appointed to various bodies by the coup masters.

Chitpas opposing lese majeste reform (a Bangkok Post photo)

One of his deputies was the Boonrawd Brewery family heiress Chitpas Bhirombhakdi, who later changed adopted a royal family name, Kridakorn. A Khaosod report says she is “the eldest daughter of Singha executive vice-president Chutinant Bhirombhakdi. She currently serves as a deputy secretary of the Democrat Party and a party-list MP.” It reports that she’s back on the junta/post-junta payroll. But, first, some more background.

In a post in 2013, we had this:

The first story at Reuters is regarding “prominent Thais” who have joined the protests. First mentioned is the selfie-photogenic Chitpas Bhirombhakdi who at 27 and with nearly 2,000 Instagram photos of herself posted, is not just a self-indulgent and self-important upper class youngster, but is also “heiress to a $2.6 billion family fortune and, according to high-society magazine Thailand Tatler, one of Bangkok’s ‘most eligible young ladies‘.” The report notes:

Chitpas, whose family owns the Boon Rawd Brewery that makes Singha Beer, had dismounted the machine [a bulldozer that was to bust police barricades] long before police pelted it with rubber bullets and gas canisters. But her gung-ho act showed how members of Thailand’s most celebrated families are discarding all past pretence [sic.] of neutrality to hit the streets in the hope of toppling Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

We understand that several tubes of expensive moisturizer helped after the bulldozer scamming for headlines. Chitpas may be young for Thai politics, but her interests are with the old men who want to keep their hands on the political tiller. She supports harsher lese majeste laws – her family’s beer interests were initially co-invested with the then king back in the early 1930s.

Our most recent post (that we recall) on Chitpas had more:

Chutzpah, egotism, smugness, vanity, audacity, cheek, conceitedness, contemptuousness, disdainfulness, gall, high-handedness, imperiousness, pomposity, self-importance, self-love, superciliousness, overbearance and scornfulness are just some of the words that come up as possible synonyms for arrogance.

Whatever it is described as, Singha beer heiress Chitpas Kridakorn aka Boonrawd has it in bulldozer loads.

In a Ripley’s style story, she is reported to be “seeking assistance from a Justice Ministry fund to help defendants meet court bail has been given until June 21 to submit a list of her assets and verify she is a low-income earner registered with the government.”

She’s heir to a fortune that currently stacks up to some $2.4 billion.

Despite this pile of cash, shares, houses, cars, planes and more, Chitpas “filed a request on May 28 that the Justice Fund place money as bail surety in legal cases against her arising from the street protests against the Yingluck Shinawatra government.”

It seems that her legal troubles she has been “appointed to the House Committee on police affairs on Thursday.” She’s gone from leading protesters to vandalize Police HQ, to trying to “join” the police, to now overseeing the police.





Further updated: “The Threat” II

19 01 2020

Like some mid-20th Century Hollywood B-grade movie, The Threat emerges from the (authoritarian) political sludge to try to undermine and crush Thailand’s monarch and the monarchy. Yes, even when almost all the supporting actors are military and the regime is military-dominated and military-backed, The Threat is always there, eating away at authoritarian monarchism.

The Threat is most usually from those who oppose the military and its never-ending efforts to control politics. Under the current regime, where the military is in the hands of ultra-royalists and, in fact, where the king has a firmer hand on the military than at any time since 1932, “threats” are most often associated with Thaksin Shinawatra because of his electoral popularity in the first two decades of this century.

Royalist rightist Rientong

Anyone who attended the recent rally for the regime at Lumpini Park would have noticed the placards linking the Future Forward Party and its leaders to Thaksin. Also noticeable was the claim that FFP represented a threat to the monarchy and, ipso facto, the nation. These demonstrators for the regime and those who organized them consider FFP’s popularity and the urge for democratization to be a threat to the monarchy. We have no doubt that, scared witless by the red shirt rising of a few years ago and associated anti-monarchism, the palace and the royalists in government worry endlessly about how to turn the tide, especially among the younger generation.

Opposing The Threat involves not just all kinds of electoral cheating, constitution rigging and shoveling increased power to the king, but bellicose ultra-rightist thugs and expensive, taxpayer-funded displays of military power and loyalty to the king and throne.

On the rightists, the Bangkok Post has an unusual electronic headline (right) that seems to indicate that the recently unleashed royalist attack dog Maj Gen Rientong Nan-nah was thinking he might be king. It turns out he was just thinking of following the regime and its opponents and organizing a run/walk not for the regime per se, but “a run to ‘save the king’…”. Yes, so great is The Threat from FFP, a party in opposition, that the barking Major General feels the need to “save the king.” He’s been told to reign that idea in for a while. But watch his space. Once unleashed rightist royalists become murderous thugs.

All of this agitation plays into the bizarrely concocted Illuminati “case” against FFP at the regime’s Constitutional Court. Somehow we don’t think that this “case” will be the end of FFP – even the hopelessly biased Constitutional Court and its mentors could not be this ridiculous, maybe, perhaps. Betting seems to be that the Court will dissolve FFP in another case, where the Court will miraculously define a loan as a donation to a political party. In the end, the plan is to do away with Thailand’s third most popular party.

For the displays, even in his so far short reign, King Vajiralongkorn has had plenty, and he’s not even in the country all that much. He’s also had the Army boss Gen Apirat Kongsompong doing his bidding and a bit of his own in also barking about The Threat. He’s sees FFP as a bunch of Commie rats.

Clipped from Khaosod

An AP report on the most recent (waste of taxpayer money) display of defending the king from The Threat came when the king, queen and the most senior of his children (from wife #1) Princess Bajrakitiyabha “presided over an oath-taking ceremony Saturday at an army base where almost 7,000 soldiers and police paraded to mark Armed Forces Day.”

The report notes that “Vajiralongkorn’s presence at the ceremony was unusual, as Thai monarchs have rarely, if ever, attended the occasion, even though the royal palace and the military are closely linked.” The regime – and presumably the palace – linked the parade to the king’s coronation last May.

As ever, the military brass groveled and frog-marched to show their willingness to face The Threat, declaring: “I pledge my life to honor and sustain the greatness of the king. I pledge my loyalty to Your Majesty and will serve and guard Your Majesty till the end of my life…”.

The monarchy, military and regime are making clear their intention to destroy upstarts who comprise the contemporary “threat.” The broader ruling class – which should be worried about this concentration of power – is probably willing to go along with it so long as the regime that maintains the ruling class’s wealth is maintained.

Update 1: Leaked documents appearing at Somsak Jeamteerasakul’s Facebook page suggest that the taxpayer has been hit with a bill of at least 340 million baht for the Army’s display for defending the king.

Update 2: For an example of how “The Threat” causes great fear among regime supporters, try former Bangkok Post Editor Veera Prateepchaikul’s most recent op-ed. Veera’s a hack, but writes op-ed’s essentially for the broad yellow group that supports the military-backed regime. He’s been running a campaign against FFP since they did so well in last year’s election, and he’s obviously very frightened that, should FFP do well and not be dissolved, electoral democracy might make a comeback. Veera and his ilk fear that.





Fear, the monarchy and democracy

17 11 2019

We feel the Asia Times interview with Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit of the Future Forward Party is worth reading in full. We were most interested in the comments – or lack of them – on the monarchy. That’s the fear that resurgent absolutism had created:

Asia Times: Your party has already made waves in challenging military power. What was the thinking behind your party’s voting against an emergency decree to move elite military units into the King’s royal guard?

Thanathorn: I refuse to answer this question. My official answer would be our secretary general Piyabutr (Saengkanokkul) has already answered this in parliament. That is our official answer (related to the decree’s lack of transparency).

Asia Times: Some construed that as a direct challenge to royal power. Was that the intent?

Thanathorn: I refuse to answer this question.

Asia Times: Why do Prayut[h Chan-ocha]’s ruling Palang Pracharat Party (PPRP) members consistently try to portray you and your party as anti-monarchy?

Thanathorn: Because we have no corruption cases, we have never been in government before. I think that’s the easiest way to demonize someone in Thailand.

Basically, tyranny anywhere in the world you need to create an imaginary enemy. It was Thaksin [Shinawatra] before, an imaginary enemy of the nation.

So now I have become an imaginary enemy of the state. And the easiest way to build that momentum is to brand the person you want to demonize as anti-monarchy.

Thanathorn is clearly right in his comments on the monarchy and democracy. We fear, though, that democracy is the last thing the grasping king wants:

Asia Times: Is there an inherent conflict between an emphasis on unity and loyalty, and the push, pull and contest of democratic politics?

Thanathorn: Let me put it this way: Everywhere in the world where monarchy still exists, a sustainable and strong monarchy happens to be in a democracy.

However, if there is no democracy and there is a monarchy, the institution creates stress, enormous stress in that society.

So I think the long-term prosperity of the monarchy as an institution goes together with democracy. Unless and until you build a strong democracy, monarchy as an institution will not be sustainable.