Further updated: Crooks, fraudsters, and palace

16 05 2021

The story of four high-profile suspects arrested in connection with a fraudulent investment ring estimated to have made off with at least 1 billion baht reminded us of an earlier hi-so fraud.

In the recent case, police detained “Lt Col Dr Amraporn Visetsuk, chairwoman of the Tiao Puea Chart (Travel for the Country) project, and three others, on charges of public fraud and collaborating in fraudulent public borrowing. All of them denied the charges.” The one who got away was “suspected ringleader Prasit Jeawkok, chairman of the Kuen Khun Pandin (Paying Back the Land) project…”.

The story gets more interesting:

Last year, Pannika Wanich, spokeswoman for the Progressive Movement, accused Mr Prasit of being behind the army’s now-discredited “information operation” (IO) and allowing the army to use the servers under his control for free.

Prasit himself has “boasted of his royalist credentials and unbuttoned his shirt to show a ‘Long Live the King’ tattoo on his chest. Even if he supported IO, he declared, it was a ‘good IO’.”

Prasit has been praised by the wealthy Yuenyong Opakul or Add Carabao who is also a mad monarchist, writing “the song ‘Prasit the Giver,’ praising his good deeds under the Kuen Khun Pandin project in July 2019.”

All of this is vaguely familiar to anyone old enough to remember the fantastic Mae Chamoy fraud case in the mid-1980s that saw Chamoy Thipyaso and seven others found guilty of corporate fraud and on 27 July 1989, sentenced her to 141,078 years in prison. She only served 8 years.

It was her connections with the military, and especially the Royal Thai Air Force and also with the Petroleum Authority of Thailand, saw her chit fund scheme go on for almost 20 years, providing huge returns to some at the top of the pyramid scheme.

As the linked report states:


Among her clients there were prominent members from the military and the Royal Household, which prompted calls for the Thai government to bail out the banks and chit funds. Discussions of an unknown nature were made with King Bhumibol Adulyadej, following which the chit fund was wound up and Thipyaso arrested. She was [d]etained secretly by the Air Force for a few days.

Thipyaso’s trial only commenced after the losses of the victims from the military and royal staff were recovered….

Paul Handley’s The King Never Smiles (pp. 308-9) has more on the scheme:

Chit funds were pyramid schemes that had blossomed over several years without intervention from the government, in part because many had strong government connections. One especially, the Mae (Mother) Chamoy Fund, was estimated at $300 million and involved large numbers of investors from the military and, it soon became apparent, the royal household, including probably Sirikit, Vajiralongkorn, Ubolrat, and Chulabhorn. With such prominent and politically significant people likely to lose massively in the Mae Chamoy collapse, [Gen] Arthit [Kamlang-ek] stepped in again. He threatened a coup if the government did not rescind the [recent baht] devaluation and bail out the banks and chit funds.

This time, King Bhumibol himself rescued [Gen] Prem [Tinsulanonda], without saying anything. Prem went to stay at the Phuphan Palace for nine days, and each day the media ran pictures of Prem with the king, queen, and crown prince. Making the message clear, when Prem returned to Bangkok he was escorted by Prince Vajiralongkorn and Chulabhorn’s consort Captain Virayuth. When Arthit then flew to the Phuphan Palace, Prem turned around and went back. What was said in their discussions with the king was not made public, but the episode ended with Prem still in power and Arthit unpunished for his series of mutinous acts. The devaluation stood and the Mae Chamoy Fund was shut down, but only after more backhall dealings managed by Prem. Fund manager Chamoy was arrested and held in secret by the air force until, it is believed, the losses of palace and military personnel and other high officials were recovered. Only afterward was she tried and sent to prison. Her hearing was held in camera and the records were sealed, presumably to protect the palace. Meanwhile thousands, possibly tens of thousands, of people who didn’t have special protectors lost their savings.

Are we completely mad to wonder if there aren’t some coincidences of news now and news then?

Update 1: Adding to the mystery and protection of fraudsters, it is reported that Prasit Jeawkok has done a deal with police to surrender to them on 17 May. It is common for influential people to arrange this kind of deal and arrive to meet police with influential figures and lawyers. At the same time, we are told that “the Second Army pledged the suspect, Lt Col Amaraphon, who is attached with the Second Army’s Support Command, will face punishment if she is found guilty.” That’s a familiar refrain, seldom ever carried out.

Update 2: Thai Enquirer has two op-eds on this case, here and here. Is anyone surprised that Lt Col Amaraphon already has bail? Scams like this produce huge cash flows for big shots.

Flaunting royal wealth

1 08 2015

The king and queen are hidden in hospital – when was the last time we heard anything about them? Chulabhorn is quiet, and Sirindhorn still scribbling, grinning and influencing postage stamps. Prince Vajiralongkorn is due to cycle for the queen and military dictatorship. Yet the royals do seem to have quietened down since the coup.

The fashionista of the frumpish family is Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana. We don’t usually follow her travels and son on, although we have mentioned her call for an island to be named after her, a report of her luxury travels and we have mentioned her capacity for luxury and wasting taxpayers’ money when a self-indulgent princess traipses around the world in a “career” that is just one on a list of the rich kid’s bucket list of “great” things she will be “great” at. She certainly seems to be great at spending the taxpayer’s money and, we guess, plenty of the family’s buckets of money.

Royals everywhere tend to be rich and self-indulgent, but with the Thai economy in a military-induced fall, we wondered about her flaunting of extravagance in a story and video at the UK’s Daily Mail. Many readers will prefer to skip the story and especially the video, yet the story of royals and Paris Fashion Week 2015 tells us about Sirivannavari’s penchant for horrendously expensive designer clothes and shoes.

The story tells us that “Style maverick Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana of Thailand is regularly snapped at fashion week looking more like an on-trend blogger than a member of the royal family thanks to her natty glasses, clashing patterns and platform boots.”

Performing like the other vacant celebrities, with the video revealing for us, we are informed that the “28-year-old daughter of Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn is fast becoming a fashion phenomena the world over because of her couture threads and cutting-edge looks from designers such as Dior, Chanel and Jean Paul Gaultier.” Shoes too: “She also has a shoe closet to rival Carrie Bradshaw and often steps out in creations by luxury footwear brands Christian Louboutian and Valentino.” Naturally enough, PPT had no idea who Bradshaw was but we soon found that the sit-com character had a truckload of expensive shoes.

All a bit much, we thought, but wealthy royals and their supporters will gush and polish butts.

Bringing Prem back in

13 07 2014

Practised posterior polisher Foreign Ministry permanent secretary Sihasak Phuangketkeow is perhaps the appropriate person to bring Privy Council president Prem Tinsulanond back into open politics.

Of course, after the palace’s terrible political miscalculation of the 2006 military-palace coup, where Prem and his co-conspirators in the military and Privy Council were shown to have been directly involved in planning and implementing the coup. This mistake was compounded for the monarchy when the king and queen met the junta almost immediately and in person.

Everyone who watched knew that this was a coup the palace wanted and helped bring about. When politics became more complicated and divided, these mistakes and miscalculations became the grist of the political mill, severely damaging the monarchy and requiring the massive use of lese majeste and related laws to repress anti-monarchy sentiment.

So when the planning was underway for the 2014 coup – for years, according to one source who should know – the military and palace decided that the latter had to be quiet and operate behind the scenes. Quiet, seemingly disconnected, and saving a ton of face and a little remaining political capital.

Now that the coup is done and the military dictatorship firmly repressing dissent, rigging the future of politics and smashing red shirt organization, the palace is being brought back in.

The Bangkok Post reports that the leader of the royalist faction is being wheeled out to support dictatorship. Prem “has been invited to visit China to mark the 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries…”. What better way to mark a return of the boss than to have him make the links to other authoritarian regimes.

Bottom buffer Sihasak “said he was informed by the Chinese government about the invitation, which he claimed reflected the close and long-standing relationship between the countries.”

The dictatorship wants to make this event a big deal as it will be portrayed as a big deal for a regime that is pretty much isolated except from other authoritarians and dictators.

There will be “another exchange of high-level visits, including a royal visit.” Both Chulabhorn and  Sirindhorn have long links with the authoritarian regime in China, so one or both of them will continue that link. Sirindhorn has been the favored propagandist for China in Thailand.

Sihasak threatened the recalcitrant West, stating: “Thailand is ready to work with any country that wants to cooperate, but a true friend is a friend in tough times.” The palace seems ever ready to support authoritarianism at home and abroad.

Chulabhorn and the anti-democracy movement

23 12 2013

Andrew MacGregor Marshall posted two photos of Princess Chulabhorn at Facebook, with her donning the garb of the anti-democratic movement. His message was:

Merry Xmas to the whistle mob from Princess Chulabhorn Walailak, on her Instagram feed. Notice her red-white-and-blue hair braid — this is an explicit statement of support for the anti-democracy insurrection.Chulabhorn

Of course, royalists may run interference on this, suggesting that she is only wearing the colors of the country, but she hasn’t done it before, and the hair ribbons have become a fashion statement amongst the anti-democratic protesters. Certainly, the royalist demonstrators will see Chulabhorn’s fashion as a political statement of support for the “creeping coup.”

And, more importantly, Chulabhorn has a history of making public statements in support of other fascist movements, going back to 1976, when she and Sirindhorn supported the rightist mobs that attacked and murdered students at Thammasat University.

More recently, with her mother, in 2008 Chulabhorn attended the funeral of a People’s Alliance for Democracy protester that was seen by PAD as a statement of support for the then anti-democratic movement. That movement resulted in a judicial coup. It is reincarnated in what PPT considers a much more dangerous, fascist, anti-democratic movement.


Military and monarchy, together in perfect harmony?

18 05 2011

Jon Ungphakorn’s column in the Bangkok Post is well worth a thorough read. He comments on a recent post at New Mandala that has caught attention in the blogosphere for the unstated comparison it draws between allegedly reformist monarchs and the current conservative royalist regime.

There are some controversial interpretations as well. Jon says: “It has always been the military that has been keen to enforce absolute reverence towards the monarchy, and all military coups in recent history have cited alleged threats to the monarchy as justification for military rule.” He adds: “It is the kings themselves who, from time to time, have made attempts to reform the monarchy to be more in line with democratic society.”

PPT was scratching its collective head on this. Yes, the military has often played the royal card in maintaining and reinforcing its role in Thailand’s political system. But what are the reforms that enlightened kings have brought. We assume that Jon is referring to the post-1957 period. This means that there has been not “kings” but one king; the present one. What great democratic reforms has he fostered?

Jon refers to “the maximum prison sentence for lese majeste was increased from SEVEN to 15 years after the military coup of 1976; while on the other hand our present king is on record in his birthday speech of 2005 as requesting that lese majeste be used judiciously and that criticism of the king should be allowed.”

Well, yes, but wasn’t that 1976 government headed by Privy Councilor and a king’s favourite in Thanin Kraivixien? Wasn’t it this monarchy that was involved in supporting the coup. Wasn’t it the king and queen who welcomed a former dictator back and set off the events of massacre and coup? Wasn’t it the current price and princesses who provided moral support for the perpetrators of the massacre? And hasn’t lese majeste gone through the roof since a coup that was clearly implemented with palace connivance in 2005 and 2006? Need we go on?

Jon is right when he observes that the “present actions of the military [on lese majeste] are clearly intended to influence the results of the elections by once again implying that a threat to the monarchy is involved. In their actions, they have moved the boundaries of lese majeste accusations to an extreme never reached before at a time when demands for reform of lese majeste law are reaching a peak.” He adds: “This is a very tense and explosive situation which, as history clearly tells us, cannot possibly be beneficial to the monarchy.”

PPT agrees, but doubts many of the old duffers in the palace see it this way. We doubt that those responsible for royalist political ideology and propaganda see it this way. We think that those who protect and “ancient institution” that is also the country’s largest and most conservative capitalist conglomerate believe that reform is in their interests. Rather, they have shown a capacity for support to the most reactionary elements and an incapacity for making historically significant compromises with the subaltern masses.

Commenting on the lese majeste charge against Somsak Jeamteerasakul, Jon argues that “critical comments among academics and intellectuals on the monarchy as an institution have been tolerated. This is why Sulak Sivaraksa has never gone to prison for his consistently outspoken observations. Now, there seems to be no refuge left.”

PPT has a vague memory of Sulak being arrested and in jail. Sulak’s website says this: “In 1984 he was arrested in Bangkok on charges of criticising the King, but international protest led to his eventual release.” That international protest was led by international academics and Buddhist organizations, amongst others. Sulak has been charged several times and currently has charges pending. That said, it is true that Sulak has never been convicted. But he is also not the only academic to have been threatened. Think of Giles Ji Ungpakorn who now lives in exile.

Jon goes on to refer to the “unfairness of the lese majeste law,” commenting, as many reformers do, that a problem is that “anyone can file a complaint and there are no guidelines as to the interpretation of the law.” He then makes this observation: “The only peaceful solution to the political explosion that is building up as more and more people are charged and sentenced under Article 112 of the Criminal Code, is to reform the lese majeste law and the monarchy as an institution in line with democratic principles.”

That’s not the only solution: abolishing the law and allowing the monarchy to use existing defamation laws, just like anyone else is also a peaceful solution.

Jon argues that the reason there is not reform is that politicians “don’t dare to do anything [because] … they are afraid of reprisals from the royalist movements such as the People’s Alliance for Democracy, the multi-coloured shirt activists and, in particular, the military establishment.”

He concludes with these observations: “It is the avowed protectors of the monarchy who are actually destabilising the monarchy and preventing the reforms badly needed to sustain the monarchy. Will the military establishment recognise this fact in time and learn to stop meddling in Thailand’s political affairs?”

PPT can agree with the first point. No doubt about it. They are bringing themselves undone. But the protectors are necessarily blind to this. The second point is one that can also be agreed. At the same time, it is not the monarchy that binds the military to intervention. After all, when its commanders were pretty much anti-monarchy the military also took a prime political position.

It seems to PPT that in the current period there is probably a pretty good alignment between the ideas of the military leadership – General Prayuth Chan-ocha is known to have excellent links to the queen – and the palace and monarchy. Chulabhorn’s recent comments on the threats being akin to the Burmese sacking of Ayudhya attest to the kind of thinking and discussions that must be going on in both military and palace circles. We see considerable harmony of interests.

And, just as a footnote, this post began with the New Mandala story on prostration and the reforms Chulalongkorn made. For all of those who are touting him as the great reformer, add to this the fact that his regime was probably the most absolute of the Chakkri dynasty….

“I feel half Israeli”

17 05 2011

PPT noted this Jerusalem Post article on Princess Chulabhorn’s current visit to Israel.

Shown extensively on television attending to scientific matters, the coverage doesn’t usually include any sound bites. So it is that the report of the meeting between Chulabhorn (“The Princess of Thailand, Dr. HRH Princess Chulabhorn Mahidol”) with Israeli President Shimon Peres, following a minor traffic accident, is of interest.

She is listed as head of the Institute of Cancer Research in Thailand. Thailand and Israel are reportedly “in the advanced stages of negotiating an industrial research and development treaty.”

This is the bit that caught PPT’s eye: she is reported as having told Peres, “In my heart I feel half Israeli. I think like an Israeli. I visited here for the first time in the 1970s, and since then I keep looking for opportunities to return.” This is added: “The princess said that she even added an Israeli name to her name, Tzila, and that is how she referred to herself when she signed the president’s guest book.”

They seem odd claims, but if any reader can suggest if there is any significance to these claims, let PPT know.

Updated: Another royal hospitalized

9 10 2010

From the Public Relations Department: “The Bureau of the Royal Household announced that HRH Princess Chulabhorn had been advised by the medical team to undergo a thyroid gland operation at the King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital where she stayed since Sunday, 3 October 2010 for the treatment. The operation took place on Friday, 8 October 2010 with satisfactory result. The announcement said Her Royal Highness Princess Chulabhorn had recovered well from the operation.” As usual, there is insufficient detail to judge what the condition is. Chulabhorn has been sickly for years. Earlier posts on her at PPT are here and here (one of our most viewed posts).

Update: Bangkok Post and The Nation have similarly short reports. She’s doing well, they say, which seems to be the standard report on every ailing royal.

Further updated: The monarchy is different (or the queen’s hospitalization)

1 10 2010

Also available in German.

In the late evening on Thursday, the queen was admitted to hospital. The reports show how very different Thailand’s monarchy is from almost all other people in the world and also show how lese majeste laws have made the media totally hopeless on matters royal.

Queens wear hatsThe Nation reports it this way: “His Majesty the King, Bhumibol Adulyadej, visited HM Queen Sirikit at Chulalongkorn Hospital yesterday evening. On the advice of a medical team, Her Majesty was admitted to the hospital late on Thursday for a comprehensive checkup.”

Obviously, this is a routine check, because simply everybody going to a hospital for a comprehensive check up is admitted at 11 p.m. As PPT has previously shown, if we were to believe the media, the king, who has been in a different hospital for more than a year, was never really reported to be seriously ill by the media. No one in the mainstream media dares say that an 11 p.m. admission to hospital might suggest something other than the normal. As one brief report states: “The health of the monarchy is regarded as a sensitive issue in Thailand.” The Royal Household Bureau is seemingly silent. So the rumor mill will crank into action.

The Nation then embarks on a treacly account of the kings visit the queen: “His Majesty came down from his room on the 16th floor of a Siriraj Hospital building in a wheelchair and then left in a royal motorcade. His niece, Thanpuying Dhasanawalaya Sornsongkram, accompanied him. The much-revered monarch wore a pale blue shirt, a blue suit jacket, and a pair of grey trousers. He held a camera in his hands. His loyal subjects waited to see him off from Siriraj.” Hushed tones because grey trousers may now become important symbols of royalism, following yellow shirts, pinks shirts and so on.

And the usual bunch of royal protectors and promoters were at the hospital to greet the king: “Crown Property Bureau director Dr Chirayu Isarangkun na Ayuthaya, His Majesty’s principal private secretary Arsa Sarasin and his wife, Army chief Prayuth Chanocha, and many others waited to greet him and his niece upon their arrival.”

But maybe the newspaper gets into trouble for a colloquialism when it says: “HRH Chulabhorn Valayalaksana and HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn also showed up at the hospital to visit their mother.” It is hard to imagine any royal just showing up. Surely, like demi-gods, they do something more magnificent.

And just in case there are any nasty republicans lurking about, even though the monarchy is “universally revered, “Metal detectors have been installed at the entrance to the building. Police and Special Branch officers have also been on duty to boost security there.” But, then, there was a bomb scare at Siriraj hospital, where the king maintains himself.

The Bangkok Post adds that double standards will apply to the hordes of well-wishers who will be herded down to the queen’s hospital: “The Royal Household Bureau will on Saturday arrange a table on the 10th floor for high-ranking officials and another on the 1st floor for the people to sign the visitors’ books from 8am to 7pm.”

Because of laws, propaganda and fear, the monarchy is treated in ways that mark them out as different and special. That is probably as it should be. After all, they are the richest Thais, arguably the most influential in terms of politics, and have contributed in so many ways to Thailand’s authoritarian slide.

Update 1: Who were amongst the first to scramble up to the 10th floor visitors’ books for high-ranked officials? Of course, chief royalists Abhisit Vejjajiva and Suthep Thaugsuban, who head the monarchy’s government and maintain its repression.

Update 2: AP has more details on what it describes as “Thailand’s elderly queen” and her hospitalization. It cites a “brief statement by the Royal Household Bureau said 78-year-old Queen Sirikit, who is the wife of Thailand’s constitutional monarch [another nod in the direction of censorship in Thailand, where it is now almost impossible just to say “monarch”], was admitted to a Bangkok hospital on Thursday but did not say when she was expected to check out.” The statements said: “Her Majesty the Queen had a rapid heartbeat. The doctors therefore asked her to travel to and stay at Chulalongkorn Hospital on the night of Sept. 30,” with AP adding that the queen’s “heart rate became normal on the night of Oct. 1,” but it was vague about what the treatment was. Official statements about the royal family are traditionally formal and discreet.” Yes, they are, but vague and opaque might be better ways to express it.


28 07 2010

There have only been a few stories that caught PPT’s attention in the past couple of days amidst by-elections, a bomb blast, the DSI trading accusations with red shirts and others, Thaksin Shinawatra’s birthday, flash protests by red shirts, and an apparently never-ending stream of stories regarding Princess Sirindhorn’s latest visit to China – seemingly essentially a holiday – that finished on 23 July but still screening long portions of the royal news four days later.

Some of the stories have raised questions for us, although PPT knows little more than what is reported in the media. We thought it might be useful to list them.

The first story relates to 28 July as Prince Vajiralongkorn’s birthday and he turns 58. As usual, newspapers have little advertisements that double as birthday felicitations to the prince. PPT only purchased the Bangkok Post, which had a one-page tribute and a series of the company-sponsored adverts. The whole thing is pretty low-key, kicked off with a large color picture of the prince at Wat Phra Kaew yesterday.

As PPT went through the color adverts, we noted they were from: Thai Airways, Boon Rawd Brewery, the Central group (the largest greeting, being a full page), CP Group and one all in Thai from Thai Beverage. The latter also posted a very large billboard celebrating the prince near Pan Fah Bridge (see the picture here). On the same day, PPT was reading The Bangkok Massacres: A Call for Accountability produced by Thaksin’s representatives, Amsterdam & Peroff LLP. On page 16, the report states: “The families controlling some of Thailand’s largest economic empires — among them Bangkok Bank, Kasikorn Bank, Thai Beverage, and TPI Polene — became fierce opponents of Thaksin.”

Maybe PPT was asleep at the wheel, but we hadn’t registered Thai Beverage as a major opponent previously. The company belongs to Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, the liquor, beer and land tycoon. Charoen has been pretty secretive. There’s a chapter on him by Nuolnoi Treerat in Pasuk and Baker’s Thai Capital After the 1997 Crisis (Silkworm). Recently he has been seen sponsoring royal events, including one of Princess Chulabhorn’s ventures. If Charoen has signed up with the royalists, then he has huge wealth and networks to build political support.

A second story is in the Bangkok Post and considers what is designated the “alleged ‘plan’ by Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij to change the current yuppiephone concession contracts…”. Then this is slipped in: “mortally wound Shin Corp and its No 1 network Advanced Info Service although that’s not the purpose, perish the thought…”. Given the “plan” is from Korn, a major yellow supporter, maybe this is the purpose. The story goes on to say that the “plan” has “thrown business, government, regulators and even the Senate into a tizzy; the kindest people said Mr Korn had good intentions, lousy planning; others were not so charitable; they noted that his plan to issue AIS, Dtac of Norway and True Move of Thailand with 15-year licences was highly questionable in legal terms…”.

The same column reminds us that Juti Krairiksh, said to be “minister of Internet Censorship in Thailand (MICT)” as well as “sniffing out dodgy websites” has “bragged that one of his greatest achievements was the arrest of three people who posted information critical of the monarchy.”

The third story relates to the Big C bombing and the Bangkok Post story that the “emergency decree will remain in place, at least in Bangkok, … Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva says.” Abhisit said that “some parties were determined to carry out dangerous acts and it was the duty of the authorities to try to stop them. That meant they needed the proper legal tools.” Proper legal tools mean the power to detain and anything else the government seems to want to do to opponents.

Just a day before, in the venerable Bangkok Post, Abhisit’s motor-mouthed personal spokesman Thepthai Senapong had attacked critics of the imposition of the emergency decree, saying the bombing proved that the decree was necessary. He added: “The old saying that there is a calm before the storm is still worth considering…”. There’s little doubt that the hardliners in the government, like Thepthai, want the emergency decree in place for a lot longer, benefit from every incident. Much of the cabinet is very twitchy about “security” and, as they have admitted, personally frightened.

The fourth and final story, also in the Bangkok Post, was buried down on about page 4, and the headline suggested to PPT that the Ministry of Justice was going to investigate allegations that a bribe attempt was made in the Department of Special Investigation missing jewellery scandal of a few days ago. But, no. The Justice Ministry was launching an investigation into the rumours themselves!

The rumours were that the “owner of a shop who complained three pieces of jewellery had disappeared from a Department storeroom had been offered 300,000 baht to retract her accusation.”

The “secretary to the justice minister, Fuangwit Aniruttaewa, said it was possible that the claims the jewellery had disappeared were the work of certain people in the ministry who wanted to discredit the justice minister and DSI director-general Tharit Pengdit.” Remarkably, Fuangwit disclosed that an “investigation” had “found the jewellery said to be missing from the DSI storeroom had not disappeared at all. The owner of the store, identified only as Ms Chayaphon, had been told the items had been located.”

Apparently, the three items had just been … well, we don’t know. Hanging off some rich lady perhaps? Miraculously, they have turned up! So what was going on inside the DSI that caused the jewellery to be lost and found at about the same time?

The king, intervention and health

26 01 2010

As is becoming usual in periods where important political case judgments are forthcoming, the king has again intervened. With the Thaksin Shinawatra assets case looming, he had judges before him in a reception room at Siriraj Hospital, where he remains ensconced more than 4 months after his admission (The Nation, January 26, 2010). The king told the judges in a weak and, at times, barely audible voice that they had to be both “brave” and “clever” in their duties. performing their role maintaining justice. He reportedly said they “should conduct their duties with strict neutrality and adhere to principles of justice and reality.” Significantly, he emphasized the “promises made before him while officially performing their duties, so the country could progress without problems.”

He warned them that: “Sometimes your judgement may lead to criticism. The judgement may not satisfy all sides. But the significance of your job is being neutral and just. If you can do it, that means you are doing your duty; but if you can’t, it’s tantamount to betraying justice. You may be viewed in a bad light and that is ugly…”. He urged them to take tough decisions: “If you lack bravery, for whatever the cause, that shows a lack of justice and points to ignorance.

While the language of justice and neutrality is used it remains apparent that the king is demanding that they not be swayed by political events and that they do the right thing. The judges will be well aware of what is expected as they look back on what was stated in other recent advice by the king before significant political cases. The king made it clear that the judges had to maintain their standards “for the sake of their merit and peace in the country.”

The king’s interventions, increasingly directed through the judiciary, are a part of the relatively successful strategy of controlling political outcomes through judicialization that has unelected technocrats making the most critical political decisions, such as constitutionally-mandated appointments, backed up by the real power of the courts and “independent” bodies.

The Nation comments that king “looked bright and alert while giving his speech that lasted 10 minutes.” PPT agrees. The lack of coherence in the speech is now a part of his style and the weak voice are a sign of age but not necessarily ill-health. Indeed, in royal news on all television stations last evening, his daughter Chulabhorn, looking ill herself, stumbled through a speech stating that the king was fit and well. So why’s he still in hospital?

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