Military and monarchy

25 09 2022

For those who haven’t seen it yet, avid military watcher Paul Chambers has a piece on the recent military reshuffle and what it might mean. Our earlier post on this reshuffle included important links.

Chambers reckons: “Decisions regarding reshuffles represent crucial demonstrations of power…”.He adds: “With a general election due no later than May 2023, guaranteeing palace-led political stability in Thailand’s military and police is essential to the interests of the state and of the elites. ”

From Ugly Thailand

On the role of the monarchy, Chambers includes tables that indicate palace links, and observes:

Thailand’s current king has sought to take an active role in military reshuffles, unlike his father and predecessor who opted for a more indirect role. Initiatives in this area on the part of the palace have translated into the king’s direct selection of Wongthewan faction members to serve as Army commanders, as in the cases of General Apirat Kongsompong (2018-2022) and General Narongphan Jitkaewthae (2020-2022). In 2018, King Vajiralongkorn established the Kho Daeng or Red Rim clique, whose members attend special short-term military training under royal sponsorship. Only Red Rim officers can now rise to top Army, Air Force, or Supreme Command postings.

We think Chambers direct/indirect dichotomy is misleading. The dead king certainly intervened, using his chief privy councilor Gen Prem Tinsulanonda as his hands-on military specialist. This is probably what he means by “indirect,” but this is hardly removed from direct influence, as everyone understood that Prem did the king’s work. In any case, Bhumibol was very hand-on when he supported Prem as prime minister, including against two military attempts to be rid of Prem.

Chambers sees the latest reshuffle as showing some changes to influence/power:

The data … indicate that the palace and Burapha Phayak [military faction]—the latter as dominated by [Gen] Prawit [Wongsuwan]—are engaged in a tug-of-war for control over postings at this highest level of authority. The Navy and Air Force commanders are king’s men first and foremost. Incoming Navy chief Admiral Cherngchai Chomcherngpat and Air Force commander Air Chief Marshal Alongkorn Wannarot join their classmate Army chief General Narongphan [Jitkaewtae] in acting as the bulwark of monarchical interests. Admiral Cherngchai’s royalist ties are owed to his being part of a Navy faction connected to former Navy Chief Admiral Luechai Ruddit, brother of Privy Council member General Kampnat Ruddit. For his part, Armed Forces chief General Chalermpol Srisawat must walk a tightrope, as he is close both to the palace and to Burapha Phayak, the military faction to which he belongs. Like Narongphan, Chalermpol is also a member of the king’s Red Rim faction.

The article concludes:

The 2022 military and police reshuffles reflect an attempt on the part of the monarch to enhance palace proactivity in a year that has seen differences between Prawit and Prayut grow…. [T]he palace appears to be backing new potential Prime Minister Anutin Charnvirakul of the military-allied Bhumjaithai Party…. [T]he king seems to have intervened in military and police reshuffles, ensuring that arch-royalists whom he trusts assume the top leadership positions…. One aspect of Thailand’s military and police reshuffles remains certain. Since 2008 … these reshuffles have remained under the control of the palace and senior security officials…”.





Anutin defends Siam Bioscience

13 08 2022

In a report at the Bangkok Post, Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul is reported as “defending” the monarch’s Siam Bioscience. He is reported this way:

He rebuffed criticism made earlier by former Move Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit that the ministry’s vaccine policy put an undue amount of trust in Siam Bioscience, given that the company had never produced such a vaccine before…. The minister pointed out that Siam Bioscience received a licence to produce a viral-vector vaccine from the UK-based AstraZeneca company.

Clipped from The Rand Blog

As usual, though, there’s no data or information about Siam Bioscience. How much vaccine has it produced? How much was used in Thailand? How much was exported? How much taxpayer money was provided to the king’s company?

Does any reader know of such data?

What we do know is that in most countries, such political contention would be entirely normal. But not in Thailand. Thanathorn is hit with a lese majeste charge that could land him in prison for 15 years. “Protecting” the monarchy seems to also mean “protecting” the king’s companies. It helps that the law also “protects” the regime from criticism.





Health honchos

22 08 2021

We at PPT have just seen Andrew MacGregor Marshall’s new Secret Siam column on public health minister Anutin Charnvirakul, his wealth and his politics. This is a subscriber-only post, but is well worth a read.

It begins with an extended look at Anutin’s “lavish rural hideaway … Rancho Charnvee,” which is a resort that has rooms that can be booked by the public. With its lavish accommodation, private airport, and 18-hole golf course, it is a landmark to his family’s huge wealth.

Clipped from the Rancho Charnvee website

That wealth “… comes from the family conglomerate Sino-Thai Engineering and Construction, founded in 1952 by his father Chavarat.” The latter:

… was deputy minister of finance from 1996 to 1997 in the disastrous government of prime minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh that presided over the collapse of the Thai economy, which in turn caused a financial meltdown across Southeast Asia. So the current coronavirus catastrophe is not the first time that a member of the Charnvirakul clan has been in a key government position at a time of crisis and failed woefully to deal with it.

In 2008, Chavarat was back, as Minister of Public Health and then as Deputy Prime Minister under Somchai Wongsawat’s pro-Thaksin Shinawatra People’s Power Party government when it was dissolved by the Constitutional Court on 2 December 2008, in a judicial coup.

The Constitutional Court ordered the dissolution of the People’s Power Party and other coalition parties, at the same time banning their chief executives. The incumbent Prime Minister, Somchai Wongsawat, was then removed along with several other members of the Cabinet. Chavarat was spared because he was not a party executive or an elected MP. He became caretaker prime minister and sank what remained of the elected government, working with the military to hand over power to Abhisit. The turncoat was rewarded by being appointed Interior Minister in Abhisit’s cabinet, a post he held until 2011. As part of his political treachery Chavarat became the leader of the Bhum Jai Thai Party, a party tied to the dark influence Chidchob family in Buriram. He was succeeded as leader by Anutin in 2012.

Marshall observes that, in 2010, Chavarat “was caught embezzling money from a 3.49 billion baht computer leasing project, and the controversy threatened to tear apart the coalition, but in the end, Abhisit didn’t dare fire him.”

Anutin unmasked. Clipped from Der Farang.

On Anutin, Marshall notes his relationship with Vajiralongkorn:

Anutin was even willing to risk playing the dangerous game of trying to get into the inner circle of the volatile future king Vajiralongkorn. He began donating large sums to the crown prince, and sought to establish himself as a friend of Vajiralongkorn, making regular trips to visit him in Europe. Vajiralongkorn was famously obsessed with flying during this period, spending most of the year staying at the Kempinski Hotel at Munich Airport where he always had at least one personal Boeing 737 parked ready for joyrides in the skies over Europe. Adopting flying as a hobby was a great way for Anutin to bond with his new royal friend.

A leaked secret US cable from 2009 identified Anutin as a new member of Vajiralongkorn’s inner circle….

We wonder how that relationship is today, with Anutin seeking to lay off blame for the Siam Bioscience-AstraZeneca failures while he’s been health minister. How did he get that position? Marshall speculates that: “It’s all because of marijuana.” And the rural-based mafia he represents, who are working to make marijuana a valuable cash crop. Marsall again:

When the pandemic struck, Thailand’s minister of public health was an unqualified political dilettante whose only healthcare experience was making wild claims
about the medical wonders of marijuana.

If readers can, look at the whole story at Secret Siam.

Incidentally, Anutin is not the only minister engaging in heath entrepreneurialism. With scant evidence, Justice Minister Somsak Thepsutin has promoted the production of green chiretta herbal pills. While there is some evidence about some of the qualities of the product, much of this is from Thai scientists keen to promote herbal medicine. Somsak’s “evidence” comes from giving pills to prison inmates and claiming “results” while clearly misunderstanding how clinical trials operate. The initial use of the pills in prisons came when the virus was raging among prisoners and vaccines were in short supply.

For ministers, there seems to be a profit motive at work rather than science and public service.





Updated: Failing virus fight

17 07 2021

Sadly, it seems reasonably certain that Thailand’s authorities are losing the fight against the virus. It should not be forgotten that for over a year, the country did well, after several errors, gaffes and arrogant missteps, with the regime largely staying out of the way. Since early in 2021, this changed, with more errors and a botched vaccine procurement and rollout.

The big bet the regime made on vaccines was to lay out for the king’s Siam Bioscience, aiming to provide the palace with bucketloads of propaganda. But, the company was inexperienced, small, and lacking personnel and equipment. For the background on the king’s company, see this recent report.

Finally, AstraZeneca, which has been opaque everywhere, has admitted that it is unable to produce the contracted doses. The company has said it “currently has local capacity to produce only 15-16 million doses per month, 5-6 million of which are reserved for Thailand…”. The target most often cited was 10 million doses a month.

This has led AstraZeneca to ask the “Public Health Ministry to extend the timeline for delivery of 61 million doses to Thailand from the end of this year to May 2022.”

It is unclear if Siam Bioscience is producing 15-16 million doses. If it is, it must be sending them to other countries, but we have seen no evidence of that, but maybe we missed it.

Thai PBS reports that “the government will still negotiate for as much monthly supply as possible.” There was also discussion of imposing “limits on exports of the locally produced AstraZeneca vaccine because the country doesn’t have enough for its own needs.” That statement seems more like a shot in the dark than a shot in the arm.

Meanwhile, Thai Enquirer asks questions about unanswered questions. Following from others, it asks “why Buriram is getting more Covid vaccines than many other provinces that should have gotten it first.”

The report states that “according to the government’s allocation plan in May, Buriram is one of the top ten provinces to receive the locally made AstraZeneca vaccines, ranking at number nine and above Pathum Thani which is the site of several outbreaks.” Pathum Thani has had 10 times as may cases as Buriram.

Thai Enquirer summarizes: “In short, Buriram is getting more vaccines per capita than many of the hardest hit provinces.” And it observes: “everyone in the country knows that the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Public Health, Anutin Charnvirakul, is largely dependent on the godfather of Buriram and the real leader of Bhumjaithai Party, Newin Chidchob.”

And, of course, the rich and the well-connected are jumping vaccine and hospital lines all over the country.

Update: It goes from bad to worse for the military-backed regime. Leaked letters between AstraZeneca in the UK and the government reveal that the “Ministry of Public Health only requested 3 million doses per month in an agreement with the vaccine manufacturer last September.” In that letter, “AstraZeneca … also urged the Thai government to join the COVAX program to get more vaccines to its citizens, something that the government has not done.”

The letter also reveals that the “letter of intent” was signed with the MOPH, the king’s Siam Bioscience and SCG – Siam Cement Group, where the king is also in control.

While the letter states that one-third of local production will go to Thailand, the letter appears to state that no vaccine had yet been exported from Siam Bioscience (although the letter is somewhat vague), saying the other governments have shown “great patience” in waiting for vaccine.





Updated: Virus cock-ups

6 07 2021

As the complaints about the regime’s cocked-up vaccine rollout mount, we can only say that regular readers will probably have noted these failures months ago. The criticisms go back to last year when questions were raised as to why the regime “decided” to back the king’s inexperienced and relatively tiny company Siam Bioscience as a manufacturing hub for AstraZeneca in the region.

Many felt this was yet another deal for the monarchy, to make it look good, and now it has backfired. Siam Bioscience and the monarchy have not gained the propaganda value expected, and the regime is looking cracked, hopeless, and arrogant.

Begging for vaccines to replace the undelivered Siam Bioscience lots and rushing via the tycoons to Sinovac is also looking like a poor bet now that questions are everywhere about Sinovac’s efficacy. It is obvious that public confidence in regime and its once quite good handling of the virus are plummeting.

Clipped from The Rand Blog

In recent days, the big issue has not just been the 5,000-6,500 infections per day, but as The Nation reports, “[s]ome senior doctors are worried that the arrival of the mRNA Pfizer vaccine will make recipients of the Sinovac vaccine believe they have been given an inferior product…”.

The views were included in leaked “minutes of a meeting about Pfizer vaccines that will be donated to Thailand by the US…”. One comment was: “If we give Pfizer vaccines to medics, it will imply that the quality of the Sinovac vaccine given to them earlier is low, and it will be difficult for us to find a reasonable excuse.”

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul confirmed that the minutes of a 30 June were real but claimed the comments were “only an opinion and that no final decision has been made about the use of Pfizer vaccines.”

Thai Enquirer also discusses the leaked document. It considers the “leaked document … revealed that government officials and academics wanted to downplay the ineffectiveness of the Sinovac vaccine…”. It was an admission that “Sinovac was not effective.”

The government has reportedly fully vaccinated “679,276 medical workers, around 95 per cent of the country’s medical workers, have received both shots of mostly Sinovac vaccine.”

Thai Enquirer wonders why the “government still insists on ordering more Sinovac doses, with millions on order for 2022.”

It seems to us that the regime’s vaccine royalist cock-up is becoming increasingly dangerous.

Update: A reader points out that we missed a rather major cock-up. That’s the reporting of Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha going to Phuket and now having to self-isolate. It will be recalled that The Dictator showed the country that he can arrogantly ignore expectations regarding being virus-safe when he was in Phuket. Remember that Anutin defended his boss’s behavior. Now, however, Gen Prayuth “will self-isolate at home for a week after he came into close contact with a person who later tested positive for Covid-19 during an event held to mark the Phuket Sandbox scheme to bring in vaccinated foreign tourists.” It was Veerasak Pisanuwong, the chairman of Surin Chamber of Commerce, who was later confirmed as positive for the virus.

We are also reminded that The Dictator is at “home” in his Army-supplied and paid home on an Army base, which we continue to think is a violation of the constitution. That he was in Phuket to promote virus-free travel and one of his companions is virus positive can only count as a major cock-up.





Updated: Arrogance rewarded

2 07 2021

Anyone following social media will have noticed the flood of complaints and invective associated with the photo below, clipped from The Nation. It shows Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha and “his entourage dining at a beachside restaurant in Phuket on Thursday.”

Corrupt and arrogant

While the regime brings charges against protesters, almost all masked up, for flouting the emergency decree that is lodged in virus control, he and his “entourage” can flout the decree with impunity.

The photo shows these arrogant men “eating and sitting close together, while some members of the party are without a mask.”

Meanwhile, today authorities reported 61 virus-induced deaths – a record – and 6,087 new infections – the second highest recorded for the country.

Of course, Phuket is not currently a red zone, but these are people who are meant to set an example. In any case, many are from Bangkok, which is a red zone.

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul stumbled along, defending the miscreants boss, blabbering about “everybody in the photo was actually sitting a fair distance from one another and that they have all been vaccinated against Covid-19.” So we guess that the message is that anyone who is vaccinated can skip off to Phuket, avoid quarantine, and do as they wish.

The general/prime minister is arrogant. He obviously knows he is untouchable. After all, the Constitutional Court has again let Gen Prayuth off a case on a technicality. The Constitutional Court seems to belong to Prayuth. His control of parliament and “independent” institutions fertilizes his arrogance.

Update: For the seriousness of the situation in Bangkok, see a couple of stories in the Bangkok Post. One begins:

While the government is upbeat about its Phuket reopening scheme, health personnel in Greater Bangkok are struggling to deal with a surge of new Covid-19 infections and deaths.

Another story slams the regime and Siam Bioscience:

The Rural Doctors Society yesterday called on the government to enforce the law to require Siam Bioscience, a local authorised pharmaceutical manufacturer, to deliver vaccine supplies as planned.

On its Facebook page, the network claimed Siam Bioscience was likely to deliver only 4 million doses of vaccine this month, instead of 10 million doses as planned by the government.

That’s the king’s company, and we guess the situation is dire if normally royalist doctors make such calls. Just in passing, we note that the monarch is scarcely seen.

That rises to 10 million doses per month from July until November, with the last 5 million jabs arriving in December.

The society said “the government was deemed reluctant to negotiate with the company or enforce any legal tools to secure the delivery of 10 million doses per month.”

That’s because it is the king’s company.

So, in the end, we have a failed vaccination strategy, a king’s company seemingly unable to communicate or deliver, a regime unable to pressure it, and a prime minister off with the fairies in Phuket.





Short on good sense and vaccine

14 06 2021

The regime’s vaccine rollout is spluttering and seems to have pretty much failed to meet expectations.

Let’s be clear on the reason for this. It is because Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha and, we suspect, the palace decided that they could get some excellent royalist propaganda by betting on the AstraZeneca vaccine and the ill-prepared and tiny Siam Bioscience. By producing AstraZeneca at the king’s company, they reckoned – like dams, water supplies, roads, rain and more – they could convince the public that the king had saved the country from the virus.

VaccineAs they were warned ages ago, this was a fraught strategy.

Now it is looking like a PR failure for regime and palace. The reports of shortages are everywhere.

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration has postponed Covid-19 vaccination for people who have registered via Thai Ruam Jai website.

Hospitals across the country are in trouble on vaccines, causing Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul to deny “that the Public Health Ministry has anything to do with the postponement of vaccination appointments, scheduled for this week, by numerous private and state hospitals and health centres in Bangkok and other provinces.” As in previous buck-passing, he cannot tell the truth: that Siam Bioscience can’t produce sufficient vaccine. To do so would be to criticize the king.

The vulnerable are being left behind in vaccine rollout as it becomes more privatized and it is dog-eat-dog in getting a shot, meaning the rich are okay but the poor, the aged, and such groups are left behind.

Now, the “Rural Doctors Society is demanding that the government, and the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), tell the truth about the availability of COVID-19 vaccines…”.

Truth is not the regime’s usual approach to problems. When it involves the monarchy, PR/fake news and silences are standard. The more usual approach in dealing with criticism is repression and threats, not transparency.





International embarrassment II

10 06 2021

The regime’s embarrassment should be increasing now that other countries are reporting that Thailand’s AstraZeneca production is severely delayed.

Reuters reports that, in addition to the Philippines, both Malaysia and Taiwan are saying deliveries of AstraZeneca vaccines manufactured in Thailand will be delayed. AstraZeneca reportedly made the king’s Siam Bioscience the production site for much of Southeast Asia.

Covid vaccinate

Clipped from The Rand Blog

The report states that “AstraZeneca’s distribution plans in Southeast Asia … depends on 200 million doses made by Siam Bioscience, a company owned by Thailand’s king that is making vaccines for the first time.” It adds:

Any questions about Siam Bioscience meeting production targets are sensitive because King … Vajiralongkorn is its sole owner. Insulting Thailand’s monarchy is a crime punishable by up to 15 years in prison….

Siam Bioscience and AstraZeneca did not immediately respond to requests for comment….

In Taiwan, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said “orders from AstraZeneca would be delayed by a month due to production problems at the firm’s Thai plant.”

In Malaysia, Science Minister Khairy Jamaluddin told reporters he is also expecting delays.

In Thailand, Thai Enquirer reports that

A source inside Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health told Thai Enquirer that part of the reason for the delay is because the Thai government has decided to focus first on inoculating its own citizens.

“I think the government has been criticized from all sides due to its decision to heavily rely on SBS vaccines and it is especially sensitive right now,” the source told Thai Enquirer by phone.

“So they are halting or delaying exports of the vaccine to focus on the inoculation drive to gain back some credit.”

Remember when Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul was demanding that AstraZeneca deliver doses to Thailand as contracted? What’s he saying now? Such “vaccine nationalism” has been seen elsewhere, but what about contracts?

Meanwhile, even in Bangkok, the supply of vaccines continues to run short. But the private sector seems to be able to access a flow of vaccines. What’s going on?





With 3 updates: A royal shemozzle IV

31 05 2021

The Bangkok Post reports that Prime Minister Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha has provided “further assurances that all Thais will receive Covid-19 jabs and warned the media not to sow confusion over the state vaccination programme.” He did this as the government cancelled its booking app.

He continued to say that “the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine planned for next month … will proceed as planned.”

Meanwhile, the private sector is taking a increasing role in the vaccine campaign, especially in Bangkok, with department stores, malls, the Board of Trade of Thailand and private hospitals seemingly taking the lead.

And, it seems the Princess playthingChulabhorn Royal Academy’s ham-fisted foray into vaccines, cutting through constitution and law, is morphing. It is as if no person responsible for the administration of the “Academy” had thought much about the sudden royal intervention.

The Bangkok Post reports that Dr Nithi Mahanonda, the Academy’s secretary-general announced that “[o]ne million doses of Covid-19 vaccine from Chinese state-owned Sinopharm will arrive in June and be offered as a paid alternative for particular groups who don’t want to wait…”. He specifically targeted the “private sector or any agencies which are at risk and want to speed up the process…”.

Dr Nithi added “that as the vaccine will be procured with the academy’s budget, it could not be offered free of charge.” He said the price would “not exceed 1,000 baht per shot…”.

This was something of a shock, for as the Bangkok Post states, “most people assumed that the imports would be offered free of charge as an adjunct to the state vaccination programme.”

The price is not out of line with prices cited in other places where the sale price per dose of the two-dose regime for the Sinopharm’s vaccine is reported to be between $19-$36. As usual, the Chinese government does discounts and “friendship prices” for some places. AstraZeneca is less than half of the lowest price in this range.

(For those interested in efficacy, this non-medical article might be of some interest.)

Nithi then further sank the public’s understandings and maybe even hopes when he stated: “I do not think that members of the public can come to receive it…”.

This led to predictable criticism, with Nithi clarifying: “I apologise if I might have talked too fast during the press conference, causing a misunderstanding that we’ll profit from the vaccine…. We won’t charge an extra baht…”.

We are left to wonder why? Why a royal intervention? Was it a propaganda opportunity? Was it a way to cover up for delays at Siam Bioscience? Did some royal do a deal in or with China? Did the Chinese government make an offer to a royal? Given the private sector’s increasing role, approved by the state, why was a royal intervention necessary if it is just acting like other vaccine procurers? More importantly, what of the constitutional and legal bending and cracking that it involves? Why?

Update 1: The shemozzle looks more bizarre by the day. Thai Enquirer reports that Interior Minister Gen Anupong Paochinda has ordered that “provincial governments must gain approval from the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) before they buy coronavirus vaccines…”. This order “came after Pathum Thani governor Chaiwat Chuenkosum said that his province is ordering 500,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccines from Chulabhorn Royal Academy (CRA).” This potential collaboration and sale has been confirmed by the “Academy.” So fully half of the vaccines it imports will be sold to one province. What on earth is going on? Any of our readers know?

Update 2: A comment by Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha makes the royal (imported) vaccine muddier still. He is reported to have stated:

On the national Covid-19 vaccine rollout, he said the government will proceed according to its plan.

“Every vaccine must be imported with the government-to-government method. We have a committee working on this,” he said.

So why was there an “Academy” intervention?

Update 3: The royal intervention has done little but has made the constitutional waters muddier than ever. Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul has reiterated that Siam Bioscience is a problem:

As for the bulk of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which will be mainly used in the country during the second half of the year, Anutin said that the allocation is based on the doses deliverable under the contract with AstraZeneca, regardless of where they have been manufactured. Some are produced in Thailand and some will be imported to meet the contracted deliverables.

Meanwhile, Chulabhorn’s self-named “academy” is now just an also-ran among “universities,” and a bunch of private sector forays into the vaccine market.





A royal shemozzle II

28 05 2021

A reader asks how it is that a person designated a princess, with no obvious constitutional or legal authority can issue a decree that appears to carry the weight of law?

We could simply say: well, this is ultra-royalist Thailand and strange, extra-constitutional happenings seem increasingly common.

The Bangkok Post observes:

His Majesty the King’s sister [Princess Chulabhorn] has approved coronavirus vaccine imports by an institution she sponsors, bypassing the government as it deals with surging infections and growing public anger over a slow and chaotic rollout.

As can be seen in this sentence, the princess is only a sister of the king and yet she may bypass government. As also noted in the sentence, she’s responding to anger about the government’s strategy. As everyone knows, from the beginning this strategy hinged on a “royal vaccine,” which now seems delayed (at best). In the Post’s words: the regime “relies heavily on AstraZeneca vaccines manufactured locally by a company owned by the king.”

This intervention was made without the knowledge of the health minister. Anutin is reported as “unaware of the royal order before it was published.” Notice that the Post as it as a “royal order,” as if Thailand is an absolutist regime. He is quoted: “I just saw the announcement last night…”. He then had to do the royalist-loyalist two-step: “But if it is a benefit to the country, we are ready.”

It was then level to the regime’s slimy legal eagle and Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam to try to clean up the constitutional and legal scraps, saying “the academy had to issue the announcement so it could qualify to import drugs and medical equipment and supplies.” That’s buffalo manure.

buffalo-manure

How high?

He added: “But this does not mean it can do so freely — it will have to comply with related laws in full, such as seeking approval from the Food and Drug Administration.” We don’t believe him. The announcement gives itself the right to circumvent government, as it already has.

Wissanu then fumbled some more, saying “that the institute could do so only during the Covid-19 crisis and when the vaccine supply was inadequate.” In fact, other readings of the vague announcement suggest that the “institute” has wider self-awarded power than that.

He squared the circle when he “added the institute, like private hospitals, could deal with foreign companies to import the vaccine using its own budget.” The budget for the “institute” is provided by the taxpayer and it is not a hospital. And, if Wissanu is correct, then the announcement is not required. Nor is the “institute’s intervention needed when private hospitals have already contracted to supply and sell 10 million doses in addition to the state’s purchases and orders.

But the royals want to make some propaganda gains in a situation where the king’s company appears to be failing.

Who will sort out the constitutional and legal mess? We suspect that no one will and that the precedent will see royals having even more power to do whatever they fancy.

The students were repressed but they were right. The monarchy on its current course is seriously dangerous for Thailand.








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