Sufficiency economy failure

7 12 2019

The dead king’s use of “sufficiency economy” was ideological. It was meant to convince poor Thais to be satisfied with their lot and not to be concerned about the huge monopolies that dominated the economy, sucking the nation’s wealth into the bulging pockets of Sino-Thai tycoons. It was also meant to divert attention from the monarchy’s stupendous wealth.

A Chumphon Cabana Resort and Diving Centre, made famous for allegedly following the tenets of sufficiency economy, has collapsed, only being “saved” by donations from “thousands of supporters” who could not bear to see a false icon be proven a total failure. Another part of the “saving” had to do with nationalist nonsense that might have seen “foreigners” buy the failed beach property.

The resort “needed 130 million baht to survive…”. This is not the first time the resort has failed after taking huge loans, but the previous “recovery” positioned the resort as a sufficiency economy icon.

The earlier debt was never repaid. Now supporters are paying for it and “to improve the grounds of Chumphon Cabana at  a cost of around 50 million baht, and another 5 million will be set aside to help cover daily operating costs.”

So much for sufficiency.





Royalist fibbing

5 12 2019

Someone at the Bangkok Post came up with a completely nonsensical online introduction to a typical laudatory Bhumibol story.

As shown in the clip from the Post online page, it claims:

 All Thais attended the activities held to mark the birthday of late King Bhumibol on his birthday that was designated as Father’s Day for the country.

The story itself does not claim that every single Thai attended a state-organized ceremony, but is full of royalist blarney.

For example, it is reported:

A highlight of the day was at Sanam Luang, where Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha led cabinet members and their spouses to hold religious ceremonies. He later presided over an exhibition to promote Father’s Day and the work of the monarch.

We can’t imagine that The Dictator, his wife and a bunch of second-rate and some corrupt ministers was a “highlight” for any sensible person. It is just another waste of taxpayer money for the aggrandizing of a wealthy monarchy and state-military ideology.

It goes on to say that:

Gen Prayut praised the late king for his tireless efforts to solve people’s problems — from inadequate health care to poverty.

This is rubbish, but a part of royalist hagiography. The monarchy’s attention to health was ineffective for the nation as a whole. It was Thaksin Shinawatra’s introduction of universal health care that made a difference. As for poverty, the dead king was keen that the poor be “happy” with their lot. He repeatedly opposed all notions of social welfare.





National security means monarchy

2 12 2019

We recommend two brief reports of recent days on Thailand’s new National Security Plan and Policy Guideline for 2019-2022 that was announced in the Royal Gazette on 22 November.

Both Prachatai and Supalak Ganjanakhundee at ISEAS have accounts that deserve to be read for information on this important document.

The latter observes:

The guideline foresees global geo-political changes presenting insignificant threats to the country in the years ahead. But it regards domestic issues, notably declining faith in the monarchy and political divisions, as greater concerns.

The Plan argues “the monarchy remains the main pillar of the country” – what else could it do? – while observing “that domestic and international developments pose risks to the institution [elite lingo for monarchy].”

Supalak points out that the documents worry:

that some elements in Thailand — perhaps meaning young activists and dissidents — “have linked the [monarchy and political conflict] for their political benefit, providing false information [sic.] and spreading misunderstanding [sic.] to undermine the national institution [monarchy]”. It notes, “The new generations have not had a bond to the monarchy since they lack understanding [sic.] and correct awareness of the importance of the royal institution as the national soul of the country [sic.]”.

The plan “admits that the bond to monarchy remains weak among the new generation.”

That latter bit is certainly true, but much of the fear is royalist nonsense and we guess it also reflects King Vajiralongkorn’s position.

The one-item security plan has to be read as a statement of a military that has become entranced by its own propaganda about the monarchy. This makes both “institutions” extremely dangerous.

At least the military royalists admit that “people have lost faith in the judicial system and at the same time want to participate more in government decision-making and to exercise their political rights.”

The only answer from the military and royalists is more propaganda:

The new security plan maps out policy guidelines to safeguard and strengthen the royal institution [monarchy] by providing it with more protection, and by glorifying and exalting it further. The authorities are to take more effective measures to defend the monarchy and to improve [state-sanctioned] understanding of the institution.

To these ends, the government agencies … are to campaign for public awareness and understanding of the role and value of the monarchy as the centre of the nation’s spirit. The authorities will use all possible means to preserve the monarchy. Thailand will apply King Bhumibol’s Sufficiency Economy philosophy for sustainable development and propagate such royal thinking domestically and internationally.

Vajiralongkorn’s fingerprints include the erasing of lese majeste:

In a change from the previous plan, concern over the lèse majesté law has been removed. The previous plan said the use of the lèse majesté law was important but caused concern over the violation of human rights. So appropriate use of legal measures without affecting the monarchy has been added as an indicator. Only one case has been prosecuted under Section 112 during the reign of King Vajiralongkorn, but laws relating to sedition and computer crime have been increasingly enforced.

More significantly, all activists have been threatened by bloody beatings of domestic opponents and the torture, murder and disappearance of exiled activists, probably ordered by the king.

Clipped from Thai Alliance for Human Rights website

Erasing 1932 from the collective memory is a part of this royal strategy.





Plowing the taxpayer’s back II

29 11 2019

Just in case you missed it, a couple of days ago the Bangkok Post reported that t”he armed forces and the police are preparing a joint show of strength and security capabilities to mark the King’s coronation in Saraburi on Jan 18″ at the Royal Thai Cavalry Center.

Kind of normal you might think. After all, since the 1960s, the military has been putting on shows of support for the monarchy as the political aims of the two forces came together. But, this event is something different. It marks another step in the capitulation of the military (and police) to King Vajiralongkorn.

The reports states the “event includes parades and displays involving military hardware with 40 battalions of soldiers and police officers participating.”

A battalion can be 300 to 800 service personnel.

The capitulation ceremony will include “tanks and armoured vehicles, while a flypast of air force fighter jets will include F/16s, F/5s and Gripens.”





Plowing the taxpayer’s back I

25 11 2019

Quite a long time ago, before the overthrow of the absolute monarchy, there was criticism of the king and aristocrats for plowing the backs of the people – exploiting them, sucking away their “wealth.”

We dug up a copy of a cartoon on this topic from an excellent thesis from 1992.It is happening again. One example is the king snaffling units of the police and military. In a summary of his grasping of police for “protecting” the monarchy. That filching was costing the taxpayer a minimum of 300 million baht for salaries alone and probably double and triple that for all the necessary trappings.

Another cost has just been revealed. It turns out that the “commando unit that has been reassigned to provide security for … the King and other members of the royal family” now needs to be replaced. Apparently, the acquisition of the commando unit, now a 904 outfit, meant that there was no special for “protecting” the rest of the population. The Crime Suppression Division “has established a new special weapons and tactics (Swat) unit to replace a commando unit…”.

It is reported that “CSD commander Pol Maj Gen Jirabhop Bhuridet said the newly-established SWAT unit will be responsible for operations which require specialised personnel and weapons.” He said “this unit should be considered as a key unit within the CIB…”.

In other words, the king’s actions left the public vulnerable. More, the taxpayer is shaken down twice. Once to pay even more for the king’s extra “protection” and a second time to pay for the public’s “protection.”

Where will the sucking of public resources into the palace end?





Mad, bad and out-of-control

22 11 2019

Strategy Page has an article on what it calls a civil war:

The civil war between the military/royalist coalition and democrats continues. The struggle has not escalated to violence yet, but it is getting more intense.

It notes that the military, the military-backed government and their royalist supporters are:

… fighting against the possibility of the pro-democracy parties eventually gaining enough allies in parliament to take power and reverse some of the damage the military government has done in the last five years.

In part, this explains the effort to smash Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and his Future Forward Party.

Self-crowned

On King Vajiralongkorn, the article concentrates on the knowns, underpinned by the unknowns. It begins with purges, saying the king is:

conducting a purge of the palace staff along with a “loyalty training” program for thousands of officials serving the monarchy in one way or another. During October the king fired at least a dozen palace officials for misconduct. No details were provided. Also dismissed and stripped of all official honors was his recently appointed royal concubine. All this palace intrigue appears to have something to do with the king’s fourth wife, who is the queen and does not want to become an ex-wife like her three predecessors. In Thailand, discussing such palace activity publically is illegal. Nevertheless, the gossip describes a very “truth is stranger than fiction” situation.

What’s missing from the article is the way the king is accumulating power, changing laws, taking over military regiments, grasping vast swathes of state property in Bangkok and making himself wealthier. A powerful but erratic king is a threat to Thailand’s politics.





Updated: Criminal minister and law

19 11 2019

As everyone knows and he still denies – despite plenty of evidence from courts in Australia – Deputy Agriculture Minister Thammanat Prompao is a convicted heroin smuggler. In the green-hued world of military political domination, this conviction counts for nil as Thammanat is one of the standover men who maintains the military-backed government’s political control. He also claims links to the palace, saying he was working for the then crown prince when he was busted in Australia.

It seems he has other uses too.

As the Bangkok Post says in an editorial, “On Tuesday, Capt Thamanat handed over Sor Por Kor land rights certificates to 335 poor and landless farmers” so they can make a living on the land.

The Post points out that:

One of the recipients turned out to be Samatcha Angchuan, a vice-chairman of the Krabi Provincial Administrative Organisation (PAO) Council and a former Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) candidate in the last general election. He was granted 16 rai of land.

This follows Thammanat’s recent efforts on behalf of the PPRP’s controversial Pareena Kraikupt defending her family’s alleged use of 900 rai of Sor Por Kor land in Ratchaburi.

Such scandals, in 1994, transacted by then deputy agriculture minister Suthep Thaugsuban, brought down the Democrat Party-led government.

Clipped from the Bangkok Post

However, with criminals running the show for the military, that would seem unlikely in this case.

Update: The many commentaries on Thammanat’s actions seem to have spurred the party bosses into action to try and – again – quieten things down. According to Thai PBS, Thammanat has had to abandon Pareena and has told her to give up her 900 rai of land.

This action might suggest infighting in the shaky coalition that is the government, but is more likely to be yet another effort to hold the government together and to avoid the same demise that befell the Democrat Party in 1994. We need to see what happens in Krabi.