Royalist ratbag politics

19 01 2022

A few days ago, Thai Enquirer reported on royalists responding to the wave of graduates rejecting royal graduation ceremonies.

The expected royalist response has begun, with “a campaign to stop the hiring of university students who did not receive their diplomas from the royal family as per tradition.”

Of course, the news outlet’s use of “tradition, which follows a post at Prachatai, ” is a bit of a royalist stretch. As far as we know, having members of the royal family present diplomas was introduced in 1930 and was discontinued until after WW2, and then became one of those mid-20th century royal “innovations” during the era of Sarit Thanarat, and meant to tie graduates to the monarchy. Like other innovations, it “restored” a practice briefly used under the absolute monarchy. More a royalist propaganda device than a “tradition.”

Since the monarchy reform and anti-lese majeste campaigns got underway quite a number of graduating students “have chosen to not attend the ceremonies in solidarity and because they say the cost of attending the royal ceremony is too high.” Some of them oppose feudalism.

Royalists are aghast and some “business owners are striking back at the protesting students by saying they won’t hire any that didn’t attend their graduation ceremony.” They plan to demand graduation photos as evidence for having prostrated before the wealthy, feudal, family.

In the way of feudalists-fascists, “Paisal Puechmongkol, a former senator and former assistant of Deputy Prime Minister General Prawit Wongsuwon, wrote of students as non-human. He claimed employers “need to initially consider whether the person who is being hired is ‘a human being that can work within a human society and a job that provide services to customers or not’.” He considered those who avoided the royals as “stupid people who do not know what is right and wrong…”.

Such attitudes tell us much about these nasty fascists engages in ratbag royalist politics.





Boycotting feudal royals

14 01 2022

A couple of days ago, Prachatai reported that the Chiang Mai University Student Union had announced “that its representatives will not receive members of the royal family at the university’s graduation ceremonies during the current committee’s term in order to uphold equality.”

The graduation ceremony for the classes of 2019 and 2020, which was held on Friday 14 January 2022, presided over by Princess Sirindhorn, usually framed as the most popular among the odd family of royals.

The report explains the ceremonies:

Thai graduation ceremonies are often long, complicated, and strictly regulated as they are presided over by a member of the royal family. Student representatives at many universities are required to wait to receive the member of the royal family arriving to preside over the ceremony. Universities also impose strict dress codes on graduates, specifying even hair colour and nail polish colour, while many transgender students face obstacles in getting permission from university administrations to dress according to their gender identity. Attending the ceremony also costs graduates and their families a large sum of money, including the cost of the graduation gown, hiring a photographer, and travel costs for those who live in distant provinces.

The Student Union explained that it would:

not send representatives to receive Princess Sirindhorn as she arrives for the ceremony, and that it will not receive any member of the royal family at any graduation ceremony which takes place during the current committee’s term, as receiving members of the royal family would show support for “feudalism” [sakdina] and because they see the reception ceremony as a form of oppression and inequality. It also calls on other faculty unions to boycott the reception ceremony.

The union viewed “the ceremony as oppressive, outdated, and a way of normalizing inequality. Boycotting the ceremony would therefore be a way of upholding equality and human rights.”

Along with the 2020 – 2021 pro-democracy/monarchy reform protests, “graduation ceremonies have become a platform for young people to express their discontent at the status quo. Many graduates see boycotting the ceremonies as an act of civil disobedience, while activists are reported to have staged small activities at their universities’ graduation events.”

At a Khon Kaen University graduation on 13 December 2021, students and graduates hung banners reading “Free our friends” and “Repeal Section 112. ” They gave speeches “criticizing the university and its Faculty of Law for not taking action when its students were detained on political charges.” Student activist Sarayut Narkmanee:

gave a speech saying that for the 2021 ceremony, which was presided over by Princess Sirindhorn, the university designated a wider than usual area as royal space, which pushed people off campus. He also said that students don’t graduate because they are handed a degree, that graduation should be for the people, and a graduation gown is created by the authorities and so is not necessary. He then burned a graduation gown in an act of protest.

At the Chiang Mai event, “two student activists were arrested … [on] 14 January … while holding banners near the Chiang Mai University … auditorium calling for graduates to boycott the graduation ceremony … and for the repeal of Section 112.”:

CMU student activist Yotsunthon Ruttapradid and Phimchanok Jaihong, member of the activist group Thalufah, were arrested this morning (14 January) by plainclothes and uniformed police officers while standing on the foothpath opposite the university auditorium, where a graduation ceremony was being held. They were reported to be holding banners saying “Repeal Section 112” and “Feudal degrees” in a campaign for the repeal of the royal defamation law and to call on graduates to boycott the ceremony, presided over by Princess Sirindhorn, the King’s younger sister….

The activists were charged with creating a noise without a reasonable cause and refusing to comply with an official’s order. They received a 1500 baht fine and were released. Officers reportedly said that they were able to charge the activists with causing noise while on campus because the campus was considered royal space during the ceremony.

Social media reports that only about 40% of graduates showed up for the royal ceremony.





Updated: Backing a man of the past

8 01 2022

We have watched in wonder as the Bangkok Post regularly has stories on failed Democrat Party politician and former finance leech Korn Chatikavanij and his minnow party Kla. Kla is meant to mean something like Dare or Daring Party. It is anything but that. But the Bangkok Post keeps acting as if it is a paid promoter of the man and his “ideas.” It is as though he has buddies at the Post. Of course, he does, on the company’s board.

We haven’t commented much on this, but the most recent “story”-cum-advertorial is so feeble that it deserves to be called out.

The story comes with the headline “Kla leader dares to be different.” Confusing the reader, the story, which comes with a posed portrait of a “casual” Korn, says nothing at all about him or how he “dares” to do anything at all. Rather, it is about a party that has failed before it has started:

The Kla Party will field candidates in all upcoming by-elections, seeing the contests as an opportunity to reach out to voters ahead of the general election, even if its chances of winning are slim.

We’d guess that “slim” means no chance. Korn is quoted as saying of his party in the south: “we have neither organised support nor bought votes…”. Leaving aside the claim of vote-buying, which was a Democrat Party claim as it lost election after election to more popular and capable parties, the fact that the party is not organized suggests that to “dare” means to waste time, money, and printers’ ink (and bandwidth). But Korn says “the Kla Party has high hopes that it can use these three by-elections to raise public awareness of its existence and policies before a general election is held.”

He may be onto something. Recently, at a rally arranged by the the Songwriters for the People group in front of Bangkok Remand Prison that was demanding the release of political activists detained without bail,the Kla Party was jeered and heckled:

… when the campaign vehicle of Kla Party candidate in the same by-election  Mr. Attawit Suwanphakdi passed by, the protesters shouted “Feudalism [must] be destroyed and people prosper” at the team.

Kla is no party of the future and the Post is backing feudalism.

Update: Remarkably, the Bangkok Post has yet another contribution to Korn’s party. This one’s an interview. In it, Korn is asked: “What are your main policies?” His response is telling and revealing as Korn comes up with nothing at all that could be construed as a policy. But the egotistical rich man is ready to be prime minister:

It doesn’t have to be me, it’s up to the people, but I’m ready. I think, as I just mentioned, the leader of the country needs to fully understand the changes that are taking place and the adjustments that are required for Thailand to take full advantage. However, a leader also needs experience and know-how, and my time in the private sector and the political arena, as a minister of finance, have prepared me well.

His mantra is change. No idea what this means, especially as he’s a man of the past with no policies and no ideas. He can’t say what he “understands” or what “adjustments” he might suggest. His “experience” is as a moneygrubber and a tart for the military.

The Post’s support for a buddy who’s hopeless makes the newspaper also look hopeless and a rich people’s plaything.





A whiff of royalism

31 12 2021

Feudal punishment associated with the palace: Pol Gen Jumpol Manmai

Is it just us at PPT or does this somewhat odd Bangkok Post story have a distinct royal whiff to it?

The report is of naval chief Adm Somprasong Nilsamai and Vice Adm Narupol Kerdnak, the commander of the Sattahip Naval Base, decising to undergo “self-punishment to uphold discipline and show responsibility after one of their subordinates committed a serious misconduct.”

That wealthy admirals, with power that cannot be challenged within the navy, should “choose” such a path seems unprecedented, almost unbelievable.

They “decided” to punish themselves after “Lt Alongkorn Ploddee, director of the Real Estate Division of the Sattahip Naval Base, has been involved in quarrels and made false claims on various occasions, ruining the reputation of the navy as a whole…”.

It seems odd that a junior officer some 7-8 ranks below the two admirals should impact them. Equally odd, is that Lt Alongkorn is listed as “director of the Real Estate Division of the Sattahip Naval Base.” We have previously questioned the navy’s commercial activities, noting that the navy has effectively become an investor and player in the Eastern Seaboard activities promoted by the regime, together with Sino-Thai tycoons.

Feudal punishment associated with the palace: Pol Maj Prakrom Warunprapha

Lt Alongkorn was shown “on video verbally abused Sattahip policemen who showed up at a restaurant for a routine inspection, saying they had ruined his happy time.” He demanded “honor”: “You don’t give me due honour…”, throwing “a glass of liquor at them and said he could put them in trouble.” This threat included name-dropping as a threat, saying “he was a friend of ‘Big Joke’, a reference to Pol Lt Gen Surachate Hakparn, the assistant police chief.” Big Joke has a record including odd events, was sacked and reinstated, and no one says why.

Feudal punishment associated with the palace: Suriyan Sujaritpalawong

In other words, Lt Alongkorn was behaving as a dark influence and a gangster. That is not unusual in the armed forces. He made his gangsterism clear when he invoked notions of territory: “Lt Alongkorn said that the police should have known that Sattahip belongs to the navy…”. In other words, they are the bosses and the territory is theirs. Other gangs – the police – trespass on the navy gang’s turf at their own risk.

As usual, Lt Alongkorn a navy disciplinary committee which will “conduct an investigation into his alleged misconduct.” Seldom does anything come of these sham exercises, except where the person involved has distressed very senior people – seems he has – or threatened the monthly take.

So what causes senior navy men to “show responsibility for the misconduct” by an underling? What causes the bosses to undergo “self-punishment for three and seven days, respectively.”

The whiff of royal involvement comes from the punishment: “The self-punishment includes shaving heads, walking long distances with a backpack, running with weights, doing menial labour and three days in confinement.” This is exactly the kind of neo-feudal punishment used by the king inside the palace. We do not know if the king is involved in this case, but it coincided with his return to Thailand from Europe. If he wasn’t involved, it shows how his neo-absolutist influence has percolated through the military wing of the palace.





Feudal court, old men and the end of reform

6 12 2021

We have taken a while to get to this post, but it remains important: the Constitutional Court’s determination of same-sex marriage as unconstitutional. Indeed,this decision is definitional of Thailand as a country for old men, a theme at PPT that goes back to 2009. The old men might be recycled through as some die, but the deeply conservative ideological disposition remains and is, it seems, hardening.

We say this based on the release of the Constitutional Court’s detailed decision as discussed in several reports, including at Thai PBS.

The frustration with the Court’s ruling has become “with the full content of the court’s long ruling being released.” The ruling states that:

Marriage is when a man and a woman are willing to live together, to build a husband and wife relationship to reproduce their offspring, under the morals, traditions, religion and the laws of each society. Marriage is, therefore, reserved for only a man and a woman.

Other parts in the verdict also mention that members of the LGBTQIA+ community cannot reproduce, as it is against nature, and that people of those communities are no different to other animals with strange behaviours or physical features.

The Nation adds: “The verdict cites LGBTQ as a different ‘species’ that needs to be separated and studied as it is incapable of creating the ‘delicate’ bond of human relationships.” Indeed, the Court referred to the “different species” who should be “treated differently” because “same-sex marriage defies the laws of nature and family.” In the Court’s feudal wording:

…The purpose of a marriage is to allow a man and woman to live together as husband and wife, so they can establish a family unit to have children, to maintain the human race according to natural order and to further allow the passing of wealth, inheritance and bonds between father, mother, sisters, brothers, aunts and uncles. But marriage between LGBT+ persons cannot establish such delicate bonds or relationships….

All very feudal and resembling the things Thais were taught about race in the late 19th century. But it gets even worse, reflecting Nazi thought:

However, when advanced technology in the future finds more details that certain species have different behaviours or biological traits, then they shall be categorised into a different group for further studies. The same applies to the State or the Legislature treating or acknowledging people of different sexual orientations differently….

The Court concluded:

… After weighing the benefits of making marriage a possibility for couples of the same sex, there is a net loss of benefits for both traditional unions between men and women, and same sex-couples.

Along with the loss of benefits, there will also be the destruction of the laws of nature and family unity, which are important foundations for society and the survival of mankind….

These judges demonstrate that the old men of Thailand’s conservative ruling class are troglodytes, incapable of change, and implacably opposed to reform. Indeed, even reforms that have been seen throughout the world seem unable to penetrate the moribund minds of the elite. They really do need to be swept aside.





Students vs. the feudal regime II

25 10 2021

As expected, following the Chulalongkorn University’s Student Union’s decision Phra Kieo coronet, Chulalongkorn University’s emblem, in the Chulalongkorn-Thammasat football match procession, royalists and other feudalists have begun grumbling.

The Bangkok Post reports that the “student administration had voted 29-0 to scrap the tradition…”.

Even so, the Post takes up points that will irritate royalists: the “announcement was issued on Chulalongkorn Day falling on Oct 23 … the day King Chulalongkorn … died.” That dead king is claimed to be “the founder of the university and his successor, King Rama VI, gave the present name to the university.”

The Post adds that student union president Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal “…put himself in the spotlight when he and six other students walked out of the ceremony held for new students to prostate themselves before the monument of the two kings on campus in 2017…”.

It adds that the “Facebook account of the student union was flooded by comments supporting the controversial move…”.

That such a popular move is from those considered dubious by royalists draws them out from under their rocks. Turncoat Wattana Muangsook hit out at the union, declaring they had no right to make the change. He declared that “former students from the two schools would be ready to carry the symbol on a sedan chair…”.

Others “argued that Phra Kiew … was the link between school students and university students with King Rama V…”.

Meanwhile, as Thai PBS reports, “Chulalongkorn University’s administration has been urged to do something about the Student Union’s controversial decision…”, with Nantiwat Samart, former deputy director of the National Intelligence Agency, suggesting a royal insult had occurred, saying “that the use of some wording in the announcement was intentionally disrespectful to the coronet…”. Only royalists could come up with such a notion. He opined: “that the university administration must protect the name of the late king, the founder of the university, against the disrespectful act of ‘just a handful’ of students.”

And so it will go on, with the royalists hyper-ventilating.





Students vs. the feudal regime I

24 10 2021

As Pravit Rojanaphruk points out in a Khaosod op-ed:

A year has passed since the students-led monarchy reform movement descended to the streets of Bangkok and beyond in large numbers. One year on, over 140 have been charged with lese majeste crimes, or defaming the monarchy. It’s punishable by a maximum imprisonment term of 15 years. Around half a dozen of them are currently … incarcerated….

Scores of others face hundreds of other charges. Some are in jail, others have bail, others await more charges.

While the media face censorship and with “self-censorship are the norm, combined with self-denial or silence to due fears of repercussions or political expediency,” the students continue to push for change.

Thai PBS reports that the Chulalongkorn-Thammasat football match procession will be different this year. The executive committee of Chulalongkorn University’s Student Union is unanimous in canceling the Phra Kieo coronet, Chulalongkorn University’s emblem. Why? They see “it to be representative of a feudal culture and a symbol of inequality.”

As the most royalist of universities, with many connections with the monarchy and royal family, the message is clear.

In his  article in support of other students who suffer feudal repression – lese majeste – Pravit calls on the media to support them:

The press could continue to watch and simply report about more prosecutions as more youths take the risks, are taken to jail, repeatedly denied bail, and refrain from questioning the anachronistic law . Such stance means the Thai press continue to be part of the problem for their lack of courage and commitment to greater press freedom.

It means the mostly young political activists feel the need to express themselves publicly on the streets or on social media, despite the risks as they regard the current situation as not just abnormal but unacceptable, untolerable and undemocratic…..

The least that journalists and media associations can do is to call out publicly and say we need to talk about the lese majeste law and something needs to be done about it. Even if they do not support the abolition of the law, there are crucial details worth reforming: the severity of the law which is disproportionate and more.

In fact, from our observation, the media has not been comprehensive in reporting of these arrests and charges and the reporting is so sporadic that we feel the regime and its supporters have cowed the mainstream media.

The students deserve better. Thailand deserves better.





Money for nothing

8 03 2021

Being a general in Thailand confers power and wealth. A general can amass huge wealth with seldom any investigation of that “unusual” wealth , can use slave conscripts around the house, might get free housing, electricity and water for years and decades, and can even murder with impunity. After all, for decades now the military has run the lucrative game show that is Thailand’s government.

In what has become an annual ritual, the Royal Thai Armed Forces have announced that they plan to slim down the number of generals and especially those who do nothing more than whack golf balls on military courses and collect the benefits.

The linked report states:

According to the Defence Ministry, out of the total, 400 generals work in the Royal Thai Army (RTA), 250 in the Royal Thai Navy (RTN), 190 in the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF), 250 in the RTARF and 300 in the Office of the Permanent Secretary of Defence.

As these numbers seem rounded, we suspect there are more of these suckers of the taxpayer teat.

The report says the “armed forces are embarking on an ambitious programme to trim the number of generals in its ranks by 25% by 2029, amid doubts that the plan will ever come to fruition.” There’s reasons to be cynical as the same claim is made every year and then drifts off into the mists of corruption and grasping.

In the coming year, the “target” ain’t that “ambitious” at 5-10%, but that will not be achieved.

One of the scams is explained:

Defence Ministry spokesman Kongcheep Tantravanich insisted the downsizing of the armed forces actually started when the cabinet approved the employment of civilians in the Defence Ministry in June last year.

Under the scheme, those recruited by the military to serve in certain fields such as medicine, law, accounting or administrative affairs are not given military ranks, he said.

So there’s no downsizing. Gobbling up loot, “protecting” a ridiculous neo-feudalism, and repressing political opponents of the whole corrupt system is too important and too lucrative.





Corruption deepens

31 01 2021

Transparency International released its 2020 perceptions of corruption report this past week.

Interestingly, as the Bangkok Post reports “Thailand has hit a new low in the latest global corruption index…”. When we first read that we were thinking Thailand did better, but it as we’d expect, the country actually declined further.

Thailand has fallen another three places and ranked equal 104th among the 180 countries surveyed, alongside Vietnam, Gambia, Albania and others.

The Post says it hasn’t changed much since 2012. But if one goes back to 2005, before the coup that set the country on its royalist, neo-feudal, military-dominated slide, the country ranked 59th of 159 countries surveyed.

In 2012 it ranked 88th of 176 countries and by 2018 Thailand ranked 99th of 180 countries.

The slide down the perceptions index shows that military domination, coups, mad monarchism, and oligarchy does the country no good at all.





Royalists, academics and palace propaganda

10 01 2021

A couple of days ago we posted on advice to protesters. That advice was well-meaning. At the Asia Times Online, however, academic Michael Nelson of the Asian Governance Foundation, writes the protesters off: “[Gen] Prayut [Chan-ocha] does not seem to be in danger. The royal-military alliance seems to be unassailable…”. He adds: “The protesters, though big on Facebook, also have little backing in the population. And now, the government is getting tough with them…”.

That seems somewhat premature, even if the regime has the “benefit” of a virus uptick and can use the emergency decree to good ill effect. In any case, as far as support is concerned, we recall the Suan Dusit survey in late October that seemed rather supportive of the protesters. Things might have changed given the all out efforts by the regime and palace, but we think the demonstrators have had considerable support.

Another academic is getting into the fray to support the regime and palace. At the regime’s website Thailand Today, pure royalist propaganda by “Prof. Dr. Chartchai Na Chiang Mai” is translated from The Manager Online. For obvious reasons, the regime loves the work of this royalist propagandist who tests the boundaries of the term “academic.” But, then, Chartchai is “an academic at the National Institute of Development Administration or NIDA,” a place that has played an inglorious role in recent politics and where “academic” seems a loose term used to describe a person associated with NIDA.

Royalists ideologues posing as academics have been well rewarded. Chartchai is no different. His rewards have included appointment to the junta’s Constitution Drafting Committee and its National Reform Council. In these positions, he opposed any notion of an elected prime minister and supported the junta’s propaganda activities on its constitution. He has also been a propagandist for “sufficiency economy,” a “theory” lacking much academic credibility but which is religiously promoted as one of the “legacies” of the dead king.

Self-crowned

His latest effort is a doozy. Published in November 2020, “Resolute and Adaptive: The Monarchy in the Modern Age” is a defense of a neo-feudal monarchy. It seeks to dull the calls for reform by claiming that King Vajiralongkorn “has already been reforming the institution of the monarchy to adapt in a modern context, even before protesters were making their demands for reform. Moreover, His Majesty’s approach has always been people-centred.”

This sounds remarkably like the royalist defense made of King Prajadhipok after the 1932 revolution, suggesting he was thinking about granting a constitution before the People’s Party, a claim still made by royalist and lazy historians. In the current epoch, if the king is “reforming,” then the calls for reform are redundant.

Reflecting the good king-bad king narrative, in a remarkable contortion, Chartchai warns that the bad king should not be compared with his father. He declares this “unjust” and “unfair.” The bad king is “preserving those achievements, but to also work with all sectors of the country to extend these accomplishments even further, as he carries his father’s legacy onwards into the future.”

That’s exactly the palace’s propaganda position on Vajiralongkorn.

How has Vajiralongkorn “sought to reform the monarchy”? Readers may be surprised to learn that the king has been “adjusting royal protocol by closing the gap between himself and his subjects, allowing public meetings and photo-taking in a more relaxed manner which differs greatly from past practices.”

Of course, this is recent and the palace’s propaganda response to the demonstrations. Before that, the king worked to distance the palace from people. Not least, the king lived thousands of kilometers from Thailand.

A second reform – again a surprising construction for propaganda purposes – is the “reform of the Crown Property Bureau…”. The king officially taking personal control of all royal wealth and property through new, secretly considered, laws demanded by the king is portrayed as intending to “demystify the once conservative and disorderly system the King himself found to be corrupt. The Bureau is now made more transparent to the public and prevents any further exploitation of the old system.”

There’s been no public discussion of this CPB corruption and nor is there any evidence that there is any transparency at all. In our research, the opposite is true.

We are told that the king’s property acquisitions were also about corruption and “public use.” The examples provided are the “Royal Turf Club of Thailand under the Royal Patronage” and military bases in Bangkok.

The Royal Turf Club was a which was a “gathering place for dubious but influential people” and has been “reclaimed as part of the royal assets is in the process of being developed into a park for public recreational activities.” That “public use” is a recent decision, with the palace responding to criticism. Such plans were never mentioned when the century old racecourse was taken. It is also “revealed” that the military bases that now belong personally to the king will be for public purposes. Really? Other “public places” in the expanded palace precinct have been removed from public use: the zoo, parliament house, and Sanam Luang are but three examples. We can only wait to see what really happens in this now huge palace area.

Chartchai also discusses how “[r]Reform of the Rajabhat University system or the Thai form of teachers’ college, has also slowly and steadily been taking place, with the King’s Privy Counsellor overseeing the progress.”

Now we understand why all the Rajabhats have been showering the queen with honorary doctorates. The idea that this king – who was always a poor student and didn’t graduate from anything – knows anything about education is bizarre. How the king gained control of the 38 Rajabhats is not explained.

What does this mean for the protests? The implication is, like 1932, those calling for reform are misguided. Like his father, the king “is the cultural institution and must remain above politics and under the constitution.” Is he under the constitution when he can have the regime change it on a whim and for personal gain?

Chartchai “explains” that “the monarchy is constantly adjusting itself…”. He goes full-throttle palace propaganda declaring the monarchy a bastion of “independence, cultural traditions, and soul of the nation, is adjusting and fine-tuning itself for the benefit of the people.” As such, Thais should ignore the calls for reform and properly “understand, lend support and cooperation so that the monarchy and Thai people sustainably and happily co-exist.”

For an antidote to this base royalist propaganda, readers might enjoy a recent and amply illustrated story at The Sun, a British tabloid, which recounts most of Vajiralongkorn’s eccentric and erratic activities.








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