Further updated: “The Threat”

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.





Rightist royalists reactivated

15 01 2020

Khaosod has a report that is reflective of a remobilization of right-wing ultra-royalists in the ongoing battle to silence voices associated with parliamentary politics.

A sure sign of rightist-royalist reaction is their public mobilization to “protect” rightist regimes or the generalized “need” to “protect” the monarchy as a linchpin of the ruling class. In the past it was often privy councilors who would make the public calls. In more recent times it has been military leaders. In the recent past we have seen Gen Apirat Kongsompong’s somewhat crazed rantings as he attacked the elected and legitimate opposition.

Such raving often sees the even more troglodyte types scurry out from the political woodwork. And so it is now as neo-fascist royalist Maj Gen Rientong Nan-nah again makes the news.

A bit like the USA’s Department of Homeland Security, the military officer who is in charge of a family-owned private hospital, demands that his employees hand over their social media account details.

The crazed Major General “announced he would only hire employees who share the same pro-establishment views as his…”.

He declared that “Mongkutwattana Hospital will not support or have any business dealings with those who insult the monarchy or have ill intention toward the country.” He added: “From today onwards … I will not accept personnel whose ideologies are opposed to mine…”.

Maj Gen Rientong said “those with different political views” were “… ungrateful parasites…”. Such dehumanizing language has been a staple of rightist-fascist attacks in the recent past.

We expect that the current military-backed regime will be grateful for the support and may encourage similar individuals and groups to rally to its side.





With 3 updates: Model king? Model family?

2 01 2020

The king recently delivered his New Year homily with a straight face. The report of it implies that it was a live statement, but it may well have been pre-recorded as the king seems to prefer being in Europe.

Self-crowned

The new year message is something that his father did and Vajiralongkorn recognizes its propaganda value.

In this message he entreated Thais to:

have wisdom, faith and awareness while adhering to virtue, righteousness and appropriateness, and to be determined to contribute to national and public interest.

It is well known that Vajiralongkorn has difficulty meeting these standards in his own life and he seemed to recognize this, saying “that mistakes and flaws were natural in any kind of work.”

But in saying that such mistakes and flaws “should serve as lessons to enhance experiences and wisdom to prevent recurrences and to create development” seem to be contradicted by his repeated “mistakes.”

His high-profile promotion of his mistress to official concubine, only to throw her in prison months later, while obliterating her from media and even demolishing her family house seems a re-run of earlier failed relationships.

Royal Household Bureau via Khaosod

2019’s fall of Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi (Niramon Ounprom) had sad resonances of his terrible treatment and public shaming of earlier wives, Yuvadhida Polpraserth and Srirasmi Suwadee.

He seems unable to find “righteousness” in dealing with wives and mistresses. Wisdom seems to avoid him.

The king also produced advice about “keep[ing] up … morale and physical health while remaining mindful of their conduct.” He added that he “hoped people would live their lives with decency, righteousness and in moderation…”.

Vajiralongkorn places great stock in fitness and physical appearance, having ordered special haircuts, uniforms, physical regimes and fingernail inspections for his staff and the forces he has taken over. That regimen has been adopted by the hopelessly monarchist military brass. But “decency”? That seems a quality lacking in the current palace.

In yet another message, the king encouraged Thai children to apply “knowledge and morality” to “build a better society.” This is a pre-recorded message as it is for Children’s Day on 11 January.

The king is said to “care” about children and their future.

We wonder why one of his favored children – Princess Sirivannavari – is currently in the unusual situation of being criticized and having to be defended for shockingly selfish. But that’s also a pattern seen in the king’s own life.

It is probably not remarkable that monarchs and their family behave badly. But in Thailand, it is unusual for this behavior to be criticized. And, a king who seems to favor absolutist ways is unlikely to notice the hypocrisy and double standards of his speeches and exhortations.

Hopefully Thais do not see the king or his family as role models.

Update 1: Khaosod removed the story on Princess Sirivannavari, so here it is in full:

Netizens Furious at Authorities Closing Down Popular Islands

BANGKOK — Twitter is up in flame on Thursday following a decision to shut down tourist islands in the south over the New Year holidays to provide security for a group of high-profile visitors. The hashtag #IslandsShutDown appears to be trending on Thai Twitterverse by Thursday afternoon, where many users criticize the local authorities for causing disruption to the public. One of the trip delegates later acknowledged the criticism and apologized for the inconvenience.

National park and marine officials closed off the islands of Bi Da, Pan Yi, and He from holidaymakers on Dec. 29, Dec 31, and Jan. 1, respectively, according to internal memos sent to government agencies in Krabi, Phang Nga, and Phuket provinces.

The memos said Princess Sirivannavari was traveling to the islands on a private visit. Local officials were instructed to prevent fishermen and divers from entering the area due to security
concerns.

After backlash made its rounds on social media, a celebrity who accompanied Princess Sirivannavari on her trip said she wasn’t aware of the protocols adopted by security officers who guarded those attractions.

Writing on her Instagram account, ML Songlak Svasti also apologized for the inconvenience, and said she was willing to listen to feedback from the public.

“Our group is not being idle about this issue, and we sincerely acknowledge the criticism you have written,” Songlak wrote in reply to one of the critics.

Update 2: Clips from Khaosod added above.

Update 3: A correspondent at The Royal Forums reports on events since October 2019 that have seen residents complaining about the monarch and his family. It implies that this large rise in criticism represents a decline in the royals’ “popularity.”

Implicit in all of this is the fear among royalists that the monarchy remains under attack. Watch Gen Apirat Kongsompong who has been criticizing all kinds of “opponents” but zeroing in on Future Forward Party and its leaders. Is a showdown coming?





The state of politics

18 10 2019

There are a couple of assessments worth reading together. We have been able to access both, so we figure others can too and that there’s no need to reproduce in full.

The first is “Why the Thai King’s Power Grab Could Backfire,” by Joshua Kurlantzick of the Council on Foreign Relations. Referring to the fake emergency decree, the author states:

The decree claims the change was made necessary by an emergency, but there is no obvious emergency that justifies such a decision.

In reality, taking personal control of the military units is just the latest move by King Maha Vajiralongkorn to expand his influence over Thailand’s politics, military affairs and economy since ascending to the throne in late 2016…. Vajiralongkorn seems intent on pushing the country further away from a constitutional monarchy as well, but in another direction altogether: closer to an absolute monarchy.

From Ugly Thailand

Some of the rest of the article we do not agree with, including its wishful thinking. Frankly, we do not see this relationship between a cocky, dominant and obsessive king and the seemingly supine military coming undone any time soon. Hopefully we are wrong. This is the conclusion to the article:

Ultimately, the king’s power grab might hurt the long-term viability of the monarchy. Although lese majeste laws outlaw public criticism, Thais are generally well aware of Vajiralongkorn’s past and present conduct. There is little evidence he has boosted his popularity as king. His maneuvering is making enemies among business, military and political elites, in addition to quiet republicans who already distrusted the monarchy. Meanwhile, disempowering advisers, like the Privy Council, and assuming more control over both politics and the economy removes any plausible deniability for the king in the event of failure.

By operating in the shadows, the king’s father wielded significant power but allowed the blame for Thailand’s problems to fall on others. Vajiralongkorn may have squandered that option.

The second story is The Economist’s Banyan writing on Gen Apirat Kongsompong demonstrating his loyalty to the king. Again, the relationship between supine military bosses and the powerful king is a feature.

Read them and weep for Thailand.





With two updates: Can the king’s fake emergency be questioned?

17 10 2019

Not that long ago, the king, approved by The Dictator, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, issued a decree that transferred the 1st and 11th Infantry Regiments to the palace for the king’s personal use.

As we said at the time, in neo-feudal Thailand, this is perhaps no longer remarkable. However, the proclamation’s claim to constitutionality by citing Section 172 of the junta’s constitution was a surprise. That section states:

For the purpose of maintaining national or public safety or national economic security, or averting public calamity, the King may issue an Emergency Decree which shall have force as an Act.

The issuance of an Emergency Decree under paragraph one shall be made only when the Council of Ministers is of the opinion that it is an emergency of necessity and urgency which is unavoidable.

In the subsequent sitting of the National Assembly, the Council of Ministers shall submit the Emergency Decree to the National Assembly for its consideration without delay….

Of course, the declaration is fake. There was and is no emergency. Perhaps that’s why Gen Apirat Kongsompong decided to make a furious and deranged speech that pretended a threat existed. Indeed, a threat to the monarchy from the parliamentary opposition! To be sure, that is buffalo manure, but the Army boss seems to have had an (invented) “emergency” in mind.

In a self-censored story, Khaosod reports that the “emergency” decree is due to go to parliament today. It is the Prayuth government that has “to defend its emergency decree…” in parliament.

The report states that the parliamentary session “will focus mostly on whether the government’s decision to enact the law unilaterally without going through the usual parliamentary channel was appropriate, and not the merits of the transfer itself.”

In neo-feudal Thailand, questioning the grasping and gorging by the king is off limits. This is not because of law, but because of fear of the king’s vindictiveness and the enormous power he already wields.

The report mentions brave democracy activist Arnon Nampha who:

urged the opposition to vote down the decree because there was no real emergency that warrants its bypassing of parliament. He also said severing the army’s chain of command over the two units would lead to legal complications.

He added:

Members of the Parliament must have the courage to stand up and prevent the risks of expanding royal power, in order to protect the principle of democracy with the King as head of state.

It seems highly unlikely that opposition parliamentarians will show the same strength of spine:

But there are signs that the opposition will not put up much of a fight due to the sensitive nature of the Royal Decree. Major parties are expected to pose no challenge….

The only sensitive thing is that it involves the king. In neo-feudal Thailand, questioning the king is no longer possible and is potentially dangerous. The king’s fake emergency cannot be questioned.

Update 1: In the end, it was only the majority of the Future Forward Party that showed that it supports constitutionalism – yes, even the junta’s flawed constitution – and the notion of a proper and lawful constitutional monarchy. The rest of the parliament fell into support of absolutism or were spineless. But even FFP could not take a stand against a grasping and ever more powerful neo-feudal monarch, arguing “that use of an executive decree for a “non-urgent” matter showed a problem of the cabinet misusing its power in violation of the constitution.” In fact, this is about the king and his demands of the military-backed regime.

Piyabutr Saengkanokkul is correct that “the executive decree violated Section 172 of the constitution, which says executive decrees should be used for urgent issues. He said the executive decree did not reflect any urgency.” The regime and the palace are now likely to seek to destroy him.

The monarchist jellybacks like Deputy Defence Minister Gen Chaichan Changmongkol and Democrat MP Pirapan Salirathavibhaga declared “that passage of the executive decree was important and urgent.” They couldn’t say why. As reported, “The government insisted there was an unspecified “emergency” that required the bill to be passed immediately.”

Other opposition parties, including the Puea Thai Party – now a pretty hopeless bunch – joined the jellybacks.

The erratic king was perhaps expressing his anger at his divine will being questioned by “postponing” his royal boating display scheduled for next week.

Update 2: Reuters has more on the “Democrat” Party’s Pirapan. In defending the indefensible, Pirapan began with the usual mad monarchist trope: “Thailand is a unique kingdom…”. THe point of this banality is to assert that Thailand’s monarchy is somehow allowed to do anything it wants and that its crimes and misdemeanors cannot be criticized and the monarch, no matter how mad, stupid or infirm, cannot be questioned. He then stated: “The monarchy is a representation of national security so in the Kingdom of Thailand, we could not separate national security from the monarchy…”. Of course, this statement reflects all kinds of laws established by military juntas and their puppets, but is entirely beside the point. The point is about the constitutional monarchy, the constitution and the false “emergency.” Of course, the Democrat Party has a long history of supporting the restoration of powers lost by the absolute monarchy decades ago. Indeed, that’s been its reason for existing.





With two updates: Monarchist madness reaches new heights

11 10 2019

Army commander Gen Apirat Kongsompong has form as a royalist ideologue. On Friday, as Khaosod reports, he “stunned the nation with an 90-minute tirade on anti-government politicians and academics, in which he accused them of attempting to sabotage the country’s constitutional monarchy.”

Clipped from Khaosod

This is nonsensical, but we must assume that Gen Apirat believes his own rants.

Some readers will recall that it wasn’t that long ago, in February, when we observed that no one should trust the commander of the Royal Thai Army. At that time, Gen Apirat “pledged … that the army will remain neutral in this election…”. That was a lie. Then in July, he doubled down, promising he would:

wash his hands of politics after the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) [the junta] is dissolved once the new cabinet is sworn in…. From then on, I won’t make political comments nor will I get involved with politics in any way. I’ll perform my duty strictly as a professional soldier….

That was also a lie.

The Army even lied about his speech, saying “Apirat’s speech … as being about the situation in Thailand’s deep south, home to a Muslim separatist insurgency.”

In Friday’s deranged rant, Gen Apirat’s “fiery rhetoric and even invocation of Communist threats in today’s news conference took many observers of the armed forces by surprise.” He lied that “the opposition’s campaign to amend the current constitution as a stealth attack on the monarchy.”

His concocted plot is a clear attack on the Future Forward Party and Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit. He targeted them as “communist politicians” and “extreme left” academics “who had studied abroad.”

Gen Apirat “showed a picture of Thanathorn and Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong, albeit with Thanathorn blacked out for an unknown reason. Apirat said he suspects that the pair might be colluding in some ways.” He criticized the young demonstrators in Hong Kong as he accused Thai politicians of colluding with communists.

Oddly, in an anti-communist tirade – for Gen Apirat, the Cold War-era battle hasn’t ended – his criticism of Wong and Thanathorn was joined by the regime in Beijing. Presumably Gen Apirat knows that China is ruled by the Chinese Communist Party. Even so, he supported the Beijing view, beloved of yellow conspiracy theorists and regime supporters in Thailand, that Hong Kong’s protesters were being supported and egged on by “outsiders.”

He babbled:

Joshua Wong has visited Thailand on several occasions. Who did he meet? What type of people did he meet? Did their meeting have a hidden agenda? What did they plot? Now, there is unrest in Hong Kong. A visit [by Thanathorn] can be viewed as giving encouragement and support….

Bemedaled like a North Korean general, Apirat then attacked the opposition parties as “selfish opportunists” and declared that they “cannot be trusted.” He warned “that politicians, academics and other intellectuals may ‘manipulate’ young people to stage protests like those in Hong Kong.”

Like a rabid dog, he went after academics: “He singled out those who had joined or sympathised with the communist movement in the 1970s, saying they had now become academics ‘teaching students wrong things’.”

“I’m not involved in politics. The army has stepped back now that there’s an elected government. But this is about national security. I will never let anyone separate the country,” he said.

His mad view is that something he calls a “hybrid warfare” that incorporates “methods such as online propaganda and more traditional violent means was already being employed in Thailand to destroy the nation.” He further concocted, claiming “politicians were linked to former communists who he said never gave up efforts to seize power…”.

AP expresses its own confusion on this plot:

It was unclear exactly what he was referring to because Thailand is not at war, the military and its allies are firmly in charge having run the country for the past five years, and a long-running insurgency is limited to the nation’s three southernmost provinces. Apirat’s comments appeared largely aimed at opposition politicians who campaigned on efforts to reform the military but have not advocated war or violence.

AP might have added that many former communists – all of them aged – support the military and its government.

As a staunch royalist, Gen Apirat “at least once Friday appeared to be in tears when speaking of King … Vajiralongkorn.” He claimed: “There is a group of communists who still have ideas to overthrow the monarchy, to turn Thailand to communism…”.

Clipped from Khaosod

Gen Apirat then pointedly made the connection between ant-communism, military and monarchy, saying the king “had helped soldiers fight against communist troops in … Loei province on Nov 5, 1976.” He went on:

“His Majesty was in the operation base, ate and slept like other soldiers. His Majesty visited local residents, gave moral support and fought shoulder by shoulder with brave soldiers.”

The royal institution had always protected the nation and battles went on for a long time before the Communist Party surrendered in 1988, Gen Apirat said.

Gen Apirat declared:

The royal institution, the military and people are inseparable. In the past, kings were on elephants surrounded by soldiers. Those soldiers were the people who sacrificed themselves in battles beside kings….

The general and his king (Clipped from the Bangkok Post)

Gen Apirat argued that it was the military that was “with the people.” He said: “They [the opposition parties] criticize the military as being an obstacle to democracy, when in fact we work for every Thai citizen.” That’s after they have repressed, jailed, tortured and murdered the Thai citizens who don’t agree with them.

The Economist observes:

In theory, Thailand’s army, having seized power in a coup in 2014, has returned to the barracks, after handing power back to politicians. But General Apirat apparently sees nothing inappropriate in railing against communists, student agitators and opposition MPs.

Meanwhile, The Nation quoted a critical academic:

Titipol Phakdeewanich, dean of Political Science at the Ubon Ratchathani University, said the Army chief was exaggerating the point and acting as if the military owns the Constitution and the country….

Titipol also suggested that Apirat was using tactics allowing the military to make political gains by exaggerating the idea of amending Section 1 and accused him of acting against the principles of freedom of expression guaranteed to the people by the Constitution. He said people should be allowed to voice their opinions constructively about the amendment of the charter, adding that the military does not own the Constitution or the country….

He also said that the Army and the government do not want to amend the charter because it allows the military to stay in power after the military-led coup in 2014….

“This charter largely protects the interests of the political establishment at the expense of the people,” he said.

Gen Apirat is a deranged and armed thug. That makes him dangerous, especially when linked to a fearsome monarch.

Update 1: Naturally enough – we had forgotten – Gen Apirat’s mad tirade came on the anniversary of the previous king’s death and as Vajiralongkorn flew back to Thailand from Germany. The newspapers and media are thus overflowing with propaganda for the monarchy, much of it being concocted stories about “great” achievements. Vajiralongkorn can bask in the reflected glory as his military second in command goes full on monarchy bananas.

Equally crazed is Chairith Yonpiam at the Bangkok Post who suggests that Future Forward must “learn the art of compromise.” In one of the most biased op-eds in the Post for quite some time, Chairith forgets that the 2014 coup came after the People’s Democratic Reform Committee, military and Democrat Party trashed parliament and ousted yet another elected government. He prefers to recall only the red shirt protests while neglecting to mention that the red shirts were slaughtered by the military, including the gun-toting Gen Apirat.

Apirat being “democratic”

And, Chairith goes full yellow saying that the current “political conflict involving the government and the opposition, with the FFP at the forefront, is a clash of ideologies with the former representing the conservative oligarchy and the latter brandishing the flag of liberalism.” That’s a line radical royalists have been peddling. He doubles down by questioning whether the judge in Yala who shot himself is part of “an attack on the judiciary.” He supports ISOC’s use f sedition charges against academics and FF politicians and is warning the party that they had better be careful. The implied threat being that they may end up floating in a river. Why is Chairith not demanding that the military “compromise”? Precisely because his “conservative oligarchy” requires the military’s threats, repression, torture and murder to stay in power.

Fortunately, a Post editorial is far more reasonable, observing that Gen Apirat’s chilling rant “should never have been given by any army chief…”, adding that “the military will not put an end to its meddling in politics.” It observes that “Gen Apirat did not provide a shred of credible evidence for his allegations.” The editorial concludes:

The army chief fails to understand that amending the charter is the job of parliamentarians with input from the public, not his.

Gen Apirat’s remarks yesterday failed to assure the public that he will steer clear of politics. Nevertheless, as the army commander, he must remain politically neutral and avoid orchestrating a political messaging strategy targeting particular groups of people. Gen Apirat will have a hard time convincing many people that he is not engaged in information warfare of his own.

There is zero chance that the Army commander will cease interfering in politics. He’s ambitious, not too bright and a threatening thug. That Future Forward has responded and criticized the thug in green will anger him and his supporters and the conflict will deepen.

Update 2: With the meddling king back in Thailand, things may get even messier. In one report it is stated that Anusorn Iamsa-ard of the opposition Puea Thai Party has said that:

Gen Prayut must set up a panel to look into the matter to assure the public that the government did not use the army as a political tool, and that the army was not trying to support the government so much so that it loses its neutrality….

Of course, Anusorn knows that the Army is not neutral and that the government is infected by military men now in suits and that the Senate has special seats for the military, which means it support the current regime.

The military is clearly frightened by Future Forward’s electoral showing, seeing this as a clear sign that the military are political dinosaurs doomed to repression if they are to maintain their grip on power. This is confirmed with loony complainer Srisuwan Janya petitioning the “National Anti-Corruption Commission to launch an ethics probe against FFP leader Thanathorn Jungroongruangkit after the Chinese embassy last Thursday issued a statement accusing a Thai politician of contacting a group involved in the protests in Hong Kong.” Exactly how and why he is doing this unsaid, but as a mad royalist, he knows who salts his rice.





Updated: 1931 moves closer

10 10 2019

A defining feature of recent royalism and especially of this king’s (still short) reign has been the rolling back of limits on the monarchy’s “prestige.” That has meant expunging the changes that made for a constitutional monarchy. It is clear to PPT that King Vajiralongkorn wants his reign to mark a return to the monarch’s economic and political power prior to the 1932 revolution.

The king has made it clear that he hates the limits on his power. He has demanded and got changes to the junta’s constitution – the changes made in secret – and taken full personal control of the monarchy’s treasure and made the Crown Property Bureau his own, expunging even the minor limits on what he could do with his property and huge wealth. Those limits were imposed after 1932 (and watered down under his father).

The king has grabbed land that he reckons belongs to his royal family and that was “lost” after 1932. New laws in 2018 gave the king enormous power to grab land.

The king has vastly expanded his political power by taking control of large police and Army units – up to regiment size – for his and his family’s “protection.” Most recently, this has involved the illegal use of emergency powers in the constitution.

At the same time, the obsessive–compulsive king has promoted retro-fashion that favors pre-1932 uniforms, haircuts and attire. Personally, he has promoted royal polygamy.

Clipped from Thai Alliance for Human Rights website

Why are we recounting all of this? One reason is because the king has, with the support of the military junta and now supported by the post-junta military-backed government, he’s gotten away with all of this with barely a peep of dissent. (Of course, dissenters are threatened, jailed, disappeared, tortured and murdered.)

Under this king there’s also been a concerted effort to expunge the symbols of 1932. It wasn’t that long ago that a monument to the defeat of the royalist restorationist rebellion in 1933.

Known as the Boworadej Rebellion, it was led by Prince Boworadej and supported by the anti-democratic King Prajadhipok.

The king, probably reflecting the influence of his grandmother’s and his mother’s family’s hatred of the 1932 People’s Party revolution, the king has demanded that the military adopt symbols of the pre-1932 royal family.

The most recent effort has involved the Army’s celebration of leaders of that rebellion – a coup – who engaged in treason and mutiny.

It is reported that:

two halls in the army’s museum are named after royalist rebels who attempted to overthrow an elected government eight decades ago.

Clipped from Khaosod

Prince Bovoradej and Phraya Si Sitthisongkhram, who led the 1933 failed revolt, now grace the two rooms at the Royal Thai Army headquarters’ newly renovated museum, which honors illustrious figures in army history. The rooms were inaugurated today by none other than Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and army chief Gen. Apirat Kongsompong.

The Army “said the naming was meant to honor the two men for their loyalty to the monarchy…”.

The Army has tried to downplay this move, but no one should be fooled. This is yet another nail in the coffin of the constitutional monarchy as the king pushes for a neo-feudal political arrangement.

A democracy activist, Abhisit Sapnaphapan wrote:

“This is a declaration that even though they did not succeed that day … their legacies are being continued today…. Welcome to the old regime of absolute monarchy.”

Another observed: “Thai people united and brought down Bovoradej’s revolt to defend their constitution, yet Tuu [Gen Prayuth] is naming a meeting room after Bovoradej…”.

It is late 2019 but 1931 seems just around the corner.

Update: Readers might find an interview with Pridi Phanomyong from 1977 of some interest. It has emerged from behind a paywall, here.