Doing the monarchy’s propaganda II

31 07 2022

With Vajiralongkorn’s birthday companies, ministries, military and other posterior polishers sought to buff the royal ego as shiny as it would go.

The big deal for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which thinks of itself as royally-connected, is an ebook, A Legacy for All. The book is a repeat of other propaganda from the Ministry like its video “A Legacy for the People.” That effort sank without much trace, having only 700+ views at YouTube in over 10 months. The book might do better, especially as it has had heavy promotion in recent days. Both efforts target a foreign audience.

The “new” 152-page propaganda piece introduces itself:

The Department of Information, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is pleased to present you with this first ever E-book titled, “A Legacy for All,” which boasts a unique collection of articles and insights that reflect the wide range of royal initiatives and their legacy on national development. The articles are written by past and present diplomats, as well as practitioners directly involved with the implementation of royal initiatives which have been grouped under six important areas, namely, public health, sustainable development, water management, humanitarianism, foreign relations, and multiculturalism.

In fact, anyone who has repeatedly tortured themselves reading official propaganda knows that there’s not much that is “unique” about the collection of articles by former and serving diplomats, a priest, a privy councilor, and royal servants. There are chapters that regurgitate much of the constructed “legacy” of the previous king and the ideology associated with the dead royal grandmother, and so on. There’s a bit of polishing of the “legacy” of the king’s eldest daughter, suggesting she’s probably the “future” of the gene dead-end monarchy.

There are two things which stand out in the book.

First, it is evident in the book that there’s not much that can be said about Vajiralongkorn. He’s had a pretty undistinguished life and, as everyone knows, he’s not the brightest and he’s also not keen on displaying himself in the manner of his parents as they boosted the monarchy. About the best the Ministry can come up with for Vajiralongkorn is an essay on a 1992 trip to Bangladesh. The only other chapter that seeks to reflect on the current monarch is on Siam Bioscience and his alleged good deeds during the pandemic. Of course, there’s nothing on the controversy surrounding Siam Bioscience. As might be expected in a bum buffing exercise for a foreign audience, there’s no data and no questioning. The sore thumb is the brief mention of Princess Chulabhorn’s “Institute” going off and acquiring Chinese vaccine when her big brother’s company was meant to be churning out vaccine but wasn’t. The only hint at trouble is when reader’s are assured that her effort was “through an established procedure under the law,” kind of suggesting that it may not have been.

Second, reading across the essays, it is clear that the Ministry views the Thai people as a bunch of dolts incapable of thought or doing anything for themselves. Not surprisingly, the exceptions are Thai royals; each one mentioned is a polymath and magnificent in their “work.” We are not exaggerating. The impression given is that no ordinary Thai is capable of much at all, other than implementing royal advice and royal schemes. The people receive royal wisdom and those who adopt it prosper. Well, maybe not prosper, but get by.

The notion that all the people are children is not unusual in elite circles. It is also why the people repeatedly rise up to demand a say in their own country.





Doing the monarchy’s propaganda I

29 07 2022

There’s a lot of palace propaganda about at present. We guess that most foreigners will rely on news outlets like the Bangkok Post, which has been around since 1946. To be around that long makes it a newspaper of record but also suggests a capacity for keeping on side with the elite. Indeed, its owners and board are of the ruling class.

Royal birthdays are usually regurgitation worthy times. The story on the king – “HM” – sorting everything out and responsible for everything good in government is pretty horrendous. Who knew or believes that “Royally initiated projects have played a vital role in elevating the lives of Thais and providing a cushion during difficult times”? Who knew or believes that the king has a “long list of royal achievements”? The “evidence” for this is a series of unbelievable claims.

Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Chalermchai Sri-on says that his ministry “follows the King’s guidance” – who knew or believes the king had any knowledge of agriculture?

The ministry’s claims that there were 1,601 royally initiated projects “implemented and completed in the 2019 and 2020 fiscal years” and another “543 projects … carried out in the 2021 fiscal year.” This seems quite unbelievable. Are there any projects other than royally initiated ones? Or is everything the ministry does labeled royal?

This is followed by claims that the Royal Irrigation Department has “3,402 projects which have been implemented, 3,333 are complete and 69 are under construction.” We wonder that if this is true, how many do anything useful?

Purveying palace propaganda is not just about producing vomit-inducing “stories.” Indeed, it means leaving out much. Of course, there’s long been self-censorship on the monarchy. Part of that has to do with fear of the lese majeste law, but it also has to do with shoring up the ruling class and the royalist ideology that cements that class together.

As part of this process of bending the news – and eliminating some of it – has meant the Bangkok Post has more or less stopped reporting on lese majeste. We did a quick search of the Post online for the past three months and found essentially no reporting of the young protesters who are calling for monarchy reform (there was one story on bail for one of them). Other than that, there was one story on Chadchart Sittipunt’s comment on lese majeste, several stories on the Lazada lese majeste case because it involved celebrities, and a couple of stories on the mad 112 case against Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit. The vast majority of 112 cases don’t get a mention.

We could be forgiven for thinking that the mainstream media is working for the palace. Certainly, by not reporting the travesties of injustice against the young protesters the Post is not serving its readers.





Updated: New zoo

26 07 2022

Readers will no doubt recall that back in 2017, King Vajiralongkorn wanted the land occupied by the Dusit Zoo as he created a vast royal precinct. He got it. Almost no one dared question the king’s whims.

In an “exchange,” the zoo was kicked out and moved to a 300-rai plot in Pathum Thani’s Thanya Buri district that was undeveloped. At the time the land was grabbed, not even the plans for the new zoo had been drawn up. That land was reported as being “granted” by the king. It was an unequal swap, but no one dared say so.

As the king gobbled up the land, some 1,000 or so animals in the Dusit Zoo were made homeless and transferred to other zoos around the country.

The cost to taxpayers – yet another “gift” to royals – is immense, and not just in terms of the loss of the ability to visit a parkland in the middle of the city. The area is now off limits. According to a report in the Bangkok Post, the cost over the past budget and the upcoming one is a staggering 9.6 billion baht.

And, the project won’t be complete until at least 2026.

Again, the taxpayer picks up the bill for a royal wish to aggrandize himself and his line.

Update: In one of the Bangkok Post’s recent pieces of palace propaganda, there’s a zoo article. Of course, it emphasizes the king’s “donation” of land for the new zoo and there’s repeated references to the “Zoological Park Organization of Thailand under Royal Patronage.” Emphasis in the article is on how good the new zoo will be compared to the old one. It is as if the king’s sudden demand for the old zoo for his personal whims never happened. That’s how palace propaganda works: erase the greed and make up stories about royal “greatness.” And, there’s a lot of this drivel around right now.

 

 





Royalist regime fighting for the past

24 01 2022

While not a new revelation,

He explains:

Self-crowned

On a recent visit to a cinema in Bangkok, I was reminded of the dual role that movie theaters play in Thailand. One, of course, is to show films, local and foreign. The other is to reinforce in the audience a belief that their monarch serves as a unifying pillar in the Southeast Asian kingdom. That lesson plays out just before the main feature, when the screen in the darkened auditorium displays a message requesting the audience to stand as the strains of the king’s anthem fill the hall, accompanied by images of the king’s achievements….

The response of audiences — standing up for the anthem — was almost universal until the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej in late 2016 ended a 70-year reign.

We think this is something of an overstatement. We recall that in the mid-1970s, when the royal stuff came on at the end of the film, many bolted for the exits to escape the hagiographic kitsch. By the late 1990s and early 2000s, audiences at movies and concerts often waited outside until the royal propaganda was finished and then rushed to their seats. But back to the story today:

But something quite different is now going on in cinemas….

[A]t Siam Paragon, a high-end mall in Bangkok’s upmarket shopping district…, [w]hen the familiar request to stand flashed across the screen to the strains of the royal anthem, only a middle-aged Thai couple stood up. The rest of the audience, which mostly consisted of younger Thais, sat impassively through the entire anthem as if it were perfectly normal.

… The display of silent defiance has gathered momentum in recent months; it has been noted by many Thais on social media and is discussed openly….

For the moment, the government appears at a loss on how to respond to this discreet but public challenge to the cinema reverence ritual. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, the ex-army chief and former junta leader, has appealed to young people not to give in to peer pressure.

Yet, Thai cinemas have emerged as a new frontier for a generational zeitgeist. They have given a decisive answer to the question of whether or not to stand, something that seemed inconceivable just two years ago. From this perspective, Thai cinemas provide an inflection point in which the simple act of going to the movies becomes a political statement.

The royalist response to this anti-monarchism – or at least the rejection of the palace propaganda – is deepening. As they have for many years, it is the regime and the military are taking the lead.

Former red shirt, now paid turncoat, Seksakol/Suporn Atthawong, a vice minister attached to the Office of Prime Minister continues his boss’s conspiracy theory-inspired campaign against NGOs. Amnesty International is his main target. He claims – and it is a lie – that “NGOs that are supporting the three-hoof mob [he means the 3-finger salute] to destroy the country’s stability and abolish the royal institution…”. He means the monarchy.

He salivates over the AI target:

Amnesty International is an illicit organization that must be held accountable for its actions, and must be prosecuted to the fullest…. We should not give in to organizations that undermine national security.

Here, by national security, he means the monarchy. What did happen to his lese majeste charge? Oh, yes, he sold himself to the military rightists.

As in so many other places struggling with authoritarianism,

Seksakol’s gambit is typical of Thai ultra-royalist fringe politics. But as his position in the prime minister’s office attests, the fringe has migrated gradually to the center and the top of the Thai governing establishment since the military coup led by Prayut 2014. Facing a legitimacy deficit, Prayut’s current military-backed administration (direct military rule technically ended with the holding of a flawed election in 2019) has relied heavily on the blunt force of Thailand’s controversial lese majeste law, which outlaws any critical comment about the king or the monarchy, to silence critics and quash protests.

The regime is planning to stay. Forget all of the parliamentary realigning. This is about maintaining the political status quo well into the future through another rigged election. And just to help it along, the regime has extended its state of emergency. Thailand has been under this kind of draconian control for most of the period since the 2014 coup. This situation allows the military, police, ISOC and the judiciary to keep a lid on anti-royalism.

How it deals with the more passive rejection of the monarchy and the regime requires more propaganda, more surveillance and more repression. It means keeping Thailand in its past and rejecting the future. All in the name of the monarchy.





Updated: Rolling back democracy from its birth I

11 12 2021

Yesterday, as has been the case for several years, Constitution Day passed largely unnoticed. There is a report of a ceremony where “Parliament president Chuan Leekpai … urged Thais not to become disheartened with the current state of Thai politics and have confidence in the democratic system.”

There is no democratic system, and Chuan seemed to be making a point in line with the royalist version of history that views the first constitution as having been “granted” by King Prajadhipok on 10 December 1932.

But this is something of a perversion of the truth. As Eugenie Mérieau pointed out a while ago, the 10 December version represented one of the first compromises made with royalists that led the country to where it is today, as a military and monarchy dominated state that is anti-democratic.

The initial constitution of 27 June 1932 was far more radical than that of 10 December 1932. The recently toppled king hastily scrawled “provisional” on it and a political struggle led to compromise that gave the royals a whiff of a chance at engineering a political comeback. Inter alia, the June charter stated,

Article 1: The supreme power in the country belongs to the people.

Article 4: The person who is the king of the country is King Prajadhipok. The succession will proceed in accordance with the Royal Household Law on the Succession of 1924 and with the approval of the Assembly.

Article 5: If there is any reason that the king is unable temporarily to carry out his duties, or is not in the capital, the Committee of the People will execute the right on his behalf.

Article 6: The king cannot be charged in a criminal court. The responsibility for a judgement rests with the Assembly.

Mérieau explains that the “two texts of 1932 were fundamentally different” and explains:

he June 1932 Constitution had 39 articles drafted by Pridi. Devoid of a preamble, it proclaimed the people’s sovereignty in Article 1. It created a regime of assembly, in which the executive was an emanation of the legislative power, in other terms, a parliamentary system. The executive could not dissolve the unique chamber, and the system put in place enshrined the supremacy of Parliament. It provided for a transitory period: during the fi rst phase, Parliament was to be fully appointed by the People’s Committee, then, during the second phase, half the assembly would be replaced by elections, and finally, whenever the Thai population would have reached sufficient levels of primary schooling, the entire assembly would be elected (Article 10).55 The text proclaimed constitutional supremacy (Article 31) without specifying any specific mode of constitutional revision or organ dedicated to the interpretation of the Constitution. Meanwhile, the King’s powers were severely curtailed, and there would be an organ dedicated to the interpretation of the Constitution. Meanwhile, the King was neither sacred nor inviolable and could be ‘tried’ by the Assembly (Article 6).

In contrast,

The December 1932 Constitution was much longer, and resembled in large parts the text of June: it proclaimed the people’s sovereignty, provided for a unicameral assembly composed of both elected and appointed members according to similar transitory provisions. However, it changed the system from a regime of assembly to that of a parliamentary system. The King acquired the ability to dissolve Parliament (subject to countersignature by the Prime Minister) and the Assembly could dismiss the Prime Minister following a no-confidence vote. It clearly established constitutional supremacy (Article 61), and the Assembly was granted exclusive powers of interpretation over constitutional dispositions (Article 62). Finally, it laid down specific modes of constitutional revision (Article 63). Some of the King’s powers were restored, although the countersignature requirement persisted. Significantly, it made the King both sacred and inviolable; the Assembly no longer had power to put him on trial (Article 3).

The royals and royalists began rolling back Thailand’s democracy from its birth.

Update: For examples of how Constitution Day has been corrupted to become a royal ceremony, read the Thaiger “report” on why the day is “controversial.” For some reason this outlet feels the need to recount pre-constitutional history going back several centuries. It then mangles history. In one paragraph it manages to change a revolution into a plea to the king (“Then in 1932 the Army, police, and Bangkok’s ‘elite’ approached the King Prajadhipok Rama VII to demand he cede some of his powers.”) and then manages to garble the king’s response: “The King … refused…”. But that kind of “perspective” propagated by palace propaganda for decades, comes to this:

The 10th of December each year is remembered for the granting of Thailand’s first constitution by King Rama VII, following the country’s transition from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy. Politicians and government officials today celebrated this special occasion by paying their respects to King Rama VII.

At the parliament today, the House Speaker Chuan Leekpai led members of the House of Representatives and senators to join a religious ceremony honoring King Rama VII, or His Majesty King Prajadhipok, at his royal statue inside the government complex, in celebration of Thailand’s Constitution Day.

Members of political parties, parliament officials, and executives from King Prajadhipok’s Institute, also participated in this ceremony.

The People’s Party and the 1932 revolution are written out of official history, as its monuments have been demolished by a palace and regime that prefer absolutism.





Further updated: Absurd court reaffirms its royalist credentials

11 11 2021

Section 49 of the junta’s constitution states:

No person shall exercise the rights or liberties to overthrow the democratic regime of government with the King as Head of State.

Any person who has knowledge of an act under paragraph one shall have the right to petition to the Attorney-General to request the Constitutional Court for ordering
the cessation of such act.

In the case where the Attorney-General orders a refusal to proceed as petitioned or fails to proceed within fifteen days as from the date of receiving the petition, the person making the petition may submit the petition directly to the Constitutional Court.

The action under this section shall not prejudice the criminal prosecution against the person committing an act under paragraph one.

From Ji Ungpakorn’s blog

The Constitutional Court surprised no one yesterday with its absurd decision that those calling for reform of the monarchy were seeking to overthrow the political system and the monarchy. Its ruling, following the first paragraph above, was all the more bizarre given that many of the reforms were a call for the status quo ante of the previous reign and of the post-1932 regime.

The Court ruled on a petition from Natthaporn Toprayoon, a former advisor to the ombudsman, who prompted the court to rule on whether “public statements, made by leaders of anti-establishment groups concerning the monarchy at Thammasat University’s Rangsit campus on August 10th last year, amount to an attempt to overthrow the constitutional monarchy.”

Clipped from Prachatai

Even among the deranged among royalists, Natthaporn stands out as quite mad. His earlier efforts with the Constitutional Court in 2019 involved a bizarre claim that the Future Forward Party was attempting to overthrow the same “democratic regime with the king as the head of state” under the very same Section 49. The lame lawyer claimed, among many odd things, that party members were “anti-monarchy and anti-religion, is that they are part of the Illuminati.” In other words, the FFP was a part of a (fictitious) global anti-monarchist conspiracy. Many mad monarchists believed this rubbish. That action failed, so he took the same nonsense to the Election Commission, claiming an “alleged violation of the Political Party Act.”

This time, the Constitutional Court, by majority (8-1) decision:

ruled that the calls for monarchy reform and monarchy-related activities organized by Anon Nampa, Panussaya Sitthijirawattanakul, Panupong Jadnok and associated organizations were, are and will be abuse of constitutional rights and liberties as they are intended to ‘overthrow’ the democratic form of government with the King as Head of State.

Remarkably, the court determined “hidden” intentions and “inferred” meanings:

The Court ruled that Anon’s speech and Panussaya’s statement at the 10 August 2020 protest, and their participation in the protests afterward and other symbolic actions have the hidden intention of overthrowing the regime, which would cause public disorder and unrest in society….

The word ‘overthrow’ can be inferred from actions that cause a serious threat to the constitution and regime in a decisive and irreversible manner that completely obliterates them.

The court considered the demand for the repeal of Section 6 of the constitution “which guarantees the monarch’s authority, as Head of State, which no one can accuse or violate is an explicit act with an intent to annihilate the monarchy.”

Rather, the demand was:

Abolish Article 6 of the constitution, which dictates that no one can make legal complaints about the king. Add an article to give the parliament power to perform checks and balances on the king, similar to the Khana Rasadon’s constitution.

This is a call to reform and a return to a previous status quo. As an op-ed at Thai Enquirer states: “If you carefully listen, what they are asking for is the modernization of the royal institution so that it can continue to peacefully exist along with the development of a democratic system.”

And the court objected to the tone of speeches:

To demand such changes and make such attacks in public, by claiming that it is an exercise of rights and freedoms according to the Constitution, not only is bad conduct, with rude words spoken, but also violates the rights and freedoms of other people who think differently….

For good measure, the court trotted out the palace and military propaganda line on the role of the monarchy in Thailand’s history. Essentially they accused the reform movement of being offensive to (ruling class) Thai culture.

The court also ordered the three respondents and others to end their movement: “The three respondents, other organisations and networks must cease their actions…”.

The ruling carried no penalty for the three respondents but it potentially unleashes a cascade of royalist repression and cases for the royalist courts that, the regime and palace appear convinced will be the end of the monarchy reform movement.

It is worth noting that, like the hurried and politicized dissolution of several parties in the 2008 judicial coup, the court dispensed with witnesses. As Prachatai explains:

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) stated that, despite a request by lawyers for the three activists for them to be summoned for an inquiry along with several other witnesses to give them the opportunity to defend themselves, the ruling was made without examining witnesses and based only on the complaint itself, the objection to the complaint, and documents that the Court requested from the Office of the Attorney General, Khlong Luang Police Station, the Royal Thai Police, the National Security Office, the National Intelligence Agency, and Thammasat University.

The Court then ordered the inquiry concluded, claiming that it has enough evidence to issue a ruling.

TLHR also said that, in addition to the three activists themselves, they had requested that several academics be summoned as witnesses. They had planned to summon historians Nithi Eoseewong and Charnvit Kasetsiri to testify on Thai political history, and legal scholar Khemthong Tonsakulrungruang to argue that the activists’ actions do not qualify as using their rights and liberties to overthrow the democratic regime with the monarch as Head of State.

They also planned to summon writer Sulak Sivarak to speak about the role of the monarchy in Thai politics and President of the 1997 Constitution Drafting Assembly Uthai Pimchaichon to speak on the intention of Section 49 of the Thai Constitution, which is modelled after the same section in the 1997 Constitution.

None of the aforementioned witnesses were given a chance to testify.

On the ruling, Natthaporn gloated: “The ruling today is a starter, that peace will finally be returned to society…”. He claimed the ruling bans all activities that might be construed to threaten the monarchy. His next target is the Move Forward Party: “He said the court’s decision would lead to the Election Commission deciding whether to move for the disbandment of the Move Forward Party. Mr Natthaporn claims the party supported the protests.”

In an interview cited by Prachatai, academic lawyer and former FFP member Piyabutr Saengkanokkul saw three impacts from the ruling:

Firstly, the ruling’s broad interpretation of the law has closed the door for those who want to reform the monarchy.

Secondly, the ruling prohibits many acts, both those which have been done and those not done. This will allow those who oppose proposals for monarchy reform to flood the courts with petitions similar to the one today. Civil society organizations and political parties that rally for the amendment or abolition of the royal defamation law might be affected by this.

Thirdly, this order to gag people will not bring about reconciliation between those who think differently. It will exacerbate tensions between the old and the new generations who have different ideas about the monarchy.

“If you don’t want to enter the red zone, then don’t do it. Don’t speak. Don’t touch. Don’t do anything. Then, you will be in the safe zone. Your party won’t be disbanded. Your MPs can stay. Criminal charges won’t touch you. In public rallies, you mustn’t speak about this. Just talk about ousting Prayut. Don’t speak about these [monarchy] issues and you will be safe.”

Indeed, this decision will, despite the wording of Section 49, will be used to lock up protest leaders and it will provide justification for a regime purge of those it can now say are anti-monarchists.

Finally in this absurdist “legal” world of the country’s protectors of the status quo, we must go back to the Thai Enquirer and its comments:

Asking for the amendment of the lese-majeste law is not treasonous in any way. Overthrowing an elected government by a military coup like what General Prayut Chan-ocha and his friends did in 2014 was.

It was also unconstitutional and unlawful. But the courts have regularly sanctioned military coups. The op-ed lists other unlawful acts sanctioned by courts:

Jailing and persecuting elected parliamentarians….

Arresting, cracking down, violently using force against unarmed protesters….

Shutting down public debate, installing an unelected senate, using the judiciary to go after dissidents….

Abducting and murdering political activists….

The op-ed concludes:

The verdict was almost like the final nail in the coffin of space for fair discussions in our society. And it was perpetrated by the same court system that has done nothing for the last six years but carry out the junta’s whim and reinforce the junta’s rule.

Update 1: Usefully, Prachatai has provided a translation of the Constitutional Court’s decision. Read it in all its bizarre detail.

Update 2:The Constitutional Court has defended not hearing evidence, saying it was too late and that the investigation was complete. Interestingly, in its decision, the court does not refer to any evidence that was not from the complainant or an official security agency.





Declining royal I

9 09 2021

Royal World Thailand – รอยัล เวิลด์ ประเทศไทย has recently posted on Princess Sirivannavari and her declining popularity. It is worth reproducing in full, in English, which has some issues. The Thai version is available at the Facebook page linked above. The basic point is that the self-promoting royal is unpopular and  efforts to promote her are doomed:

From Wikipedia

… Princess Sirivannavari of Thailand joined a virtual conversation with Thai designers a couple of weeks ago on Vogue Thailand Channel. The conversation was about fashion industry amid the serious COVID-19 pandemic situation which has caused obstacles to many.

“We all are having difficult time. I am also having a difficult time. But I very much believe that everyone has to get prosperity and be with it. Keep moving on and fill an energy to everyone. I believe that things are going to be better. We can be sad but not too long.” For the Princess’ ‘difficult time’ has become viral on the internet. Netizens use her quote for sarcastically expressing towards each other. She herself was also criticised by many about her own discourse.

Besides the King and Queen who are facing the decreasing popularity, Princess Sirivannavari is considered the least rated member in the royal family, due to her unforgettable incident during the new year trip a couple of years ago. Her security protocol caused chaotic atmosphere towards to public who were also having a trip, brought to huge criticism directly to the Princess. (Read: bit.do/fzZms)

Whatever she does, wherever she goes, Siri is always criticised and talked about at any time. A lot of people do not even see anything positive from her anymore. She is hence judged as ‘fake’ in the eyes of many. During the uncontrollable pandemic situation, her discourse of ‘having a difficult time’ was questioned by many: how difficult time she has got as a princess? How much does she understand the situation? And how much does she follow the situation and the people’s suffering?

In the previous year, the Princess was involved in public assistance by providing stuff to medical staff and frontline workers handling the virus, e.g. masks, alcohol hand sanitiser, and sodium hypochlorite for supporting the hospitals nationwide. She also attended the production process of the alcohol hand sanitizer by her own.

The Princess said to Vogue Thailand: “No one wants to have the disease. No one even expects how the thing came up. And it is not only in our country. The situation does not choose anyone by classes as well.” It is defined that whoever it is, rich or poor, everyone has his own difficult time, whether much or less in his own way in this kind of situation. No one should be judged by others’ norm.

For Princess Sirivannavari, who called herself as “Thanying”* may still be in a difficult place facing the decreasing popularity. She may spend quite much time to adapt or change herself to pass the tension. It would be good if she can rely or pay attention to some of both sides of comments to encourage more on her way of life…

*Thanying – is a colloquial term referring to minor princesses of the royal family who hold the style of “Serene Highness” (Thai: Mom Chao). Princess Sirivannavari who was born with Serene Highness, was once called as ‘Thanying’ in the royal court of which the term has been used as her own nickname ever since.





Royalism corrupts

4 09 2021

The judicial system has lost much of the precarious public support it once had. Now, the only standards used are double standards.

Admittedly, the police were never held in high esteem, known to be murderous and thoroughly corrupt. But judges and prosecutors also display wanton corruption and never-ending double standards.

While some judges still try to hold some standards and to adjudicate the law, the deepening royalism of the judiciary has overwhelmed them. Political cases litter the judicial playing field, with judges taking decisions based on notions of “Thainess,” “good” vs “bad” people, on orders from the top or made for reasons that seem to bear no relationship to written law. Not a few judges have been shown to be corrupt.

A Bangkok Post picture

Meanwhile, prosecutors do as they are told and, in some cases, as they are paid. Wealthy killers get off with the support of corrupt prosecutors. Kids get prosecuted for political crimes. Working hand in royal glove with judges, prosecutors oppose bail in political cases, seeking to damage “suspects” through lese majeste torture and, now, the threat of virus infection in prison for political prisoners.

On the latter, as the Bangkok Post reports that “activist Chartchai Kaedam is one among many political prisoners infected with Covid-19.” His condition is cause for much concern.

A petition has been lodged with the National Human Rights Commission “demanding an investigation into how a Karen rights activist contracted Covid-19 while imprisoned,…” pointing out that “he is not a criminal and should be allowed bail, especially given his health condition…”. The petition added that “bringing innocent people into a contagious environment such as a prison during a deadly virus outbreak violates their rights..”.

The NHRC has been pretty hopeless since it was politicized under the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime, but in this case, Commissioner Sayamol Kraiyoorawong says “staff have made some ‘unofficial’ attempts to get information from the Department of Corrections about his [Chartchai’s] condition and treatment.” But guess what: “Under the Covid-19 crisis, we [NHRC] have not been allowed access to the prison to see people…”. Other concerned by his condition are also denied information. Prachatai reports that the “his family and lawyer were not able to speak to his doctor or obtain information on his condition.”

The impression is of a callous, deliberately dangerous, and unjust system seeking to punish even those not convicted of a crime and held without bail on trifling charges. Of course, they are political charges.

In another branch of the royalist swill, the police are still at it. Pol Col Thitisan “Joe” Uttanapol or “Joe Ferrari,” has reportedly been charged “with premeditated murder by means of torture, unlawful deprivation of liberty and malfeasance.” Despite all the evidence leaked, Joe now claims “he just ‘assaulted’ the victim, and did not torture and murder him.” He’ll probably get off. The pattern will be for witnesses to be paid off or strong-armed, for the case to be drawn out for years, and with public attention having moved on, and judges gingered up and rewarded, Joe might get a suspended sentence. That’s how the system rots.

All in all, this is a sorry tale of how royalism corrupts, money corrupts, and political preferences corrupt.

But never fear, “good” people are at work. Into this fetid swamp masquerading as a judicial system, come the Education Ministry, “planning to modify the history curriculum in schools to strengthen learning amid recent moves by youth groups against the kingdom’s highest institution [they mean the monarchy].” Yes, cleaning up Thailand means pouring palace propaganda into children. We suppose that this is an admission that the never-ending and expensive royalist buffalo manure over 50 years has failed to get sufficient cowering acquiescence. We do know that those who have drunk most at the fount of royalist propaganda are the most corrupt.

 





Silk purses from a festering sow’s ear

25 08 2021

The failures of the regime and the monarchy on Siam Bioscience and vaccination is not what the regime and palace had hoped for; they hoped for a propaganda victory. They wanted to role back growing anti-monarchism.

This means that regime tools have to go to work and concoct a victory for the monarchy and the royal family.

A recent example of this is from the royalist clique controlling the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Tana Weskosith, who is Deputy Permanent Secretary, has come up with “A Modern Monarch in Action: Mobilising Relief in a Pandemic.” This laudatory tale is posted at the MFA’s propaganda/PR site Thailand NOW, “operated by the Thailand NOW editorial team and is supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”

It begins with the usual blarney: “Friends of Thailand might be familiar with anecdotes about the Thai monarchy that has stood fast alongside the Thai people through thick and thin — from combatting poverty throughout the ages to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic since last year.”

Anecdotes indeed, but “through the ages” is just hyperbolic buffalo manure.

Looking after his own. Royal Household Bureau via Khaosod

The virus reference is startling, but is the reason for the royalist drivel peddled by the MFA.

The level of false claims comes with the statement that “the King and Queen … have continued to take this mission on board in all types of situations, whether they be during a crisis or in times of peace.”

The king has only been on the throne since 2016, and he spent most of this time in Germany, only returning to Thailand when he felt his throne was under threat last year. For much of his reign and, indeed, in recent months, he’s been invisible.

Tana recycles the claim that the “Royal Family works [with]… a simple but practical rationale, that all Thai people should have access to basic public services even in the most remote areas of the country, so that they are able to earn a decent livelihood in good health and happiness.”

This is nonsensical. The royal family has, like most royals, been interested in maintaining its position and building its wealth. The dead king spoke out against notions of social welfare. Like all rightists, the monarchy and the current king have willingly backed the military’s political domination and its murder of political opponents.

Tana recognizes that Vajiralongkorn has been pretty much invisible, so he makes the claim that the royal family “has been continuously devoting their energy and personal funds behind the scenes…”. The compulsory royal news on radio and television that drearily promote the royals suggests that Tana is simply making this up. And he babbles about “centuries” of such concern, and goes on to repeat the propaganda associated with all the royals from early in the 20th century.

But he then gets going on the pandemic, proudly declaring:

The King’s Father, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej The Great, through the Crown Property Bureau, funded the establishment of Siam Bioscience Co. Ltd. in 2009, to specialise in manufacturing biopharmaceuticals.

Perhaps Tana thinks that linking the dead king to Siam Bioscience will reduce the justified criticism of the company.

He makes a remarkable claim:

The company’s excellence has since been internationally recognized…. Subsequently, in 2020, the British-Swedish pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical company, AstraZeneca, in its fast quest to set up a manufacturing base for its COVID-19 vaccines in Southeast Asia, found that Siam Bioscience was the only qualified choice as its local partner to produce AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines for Thailand and Southeast Asia.

As far as we know, there is no evidence for this claim. This information is simply unavailable, with the whole enterprise being remarkably opaque. Tana quotes James Teague, Country President of AstraZeneca (Thailand) Ltd. on the highlighted claim, but these comments do not shed any light on why the small and inexperienced company was chosen. The guess can only be that it was chosen due to its royal connection.

Siam Bioscience. From the linked article

Why, with all this claimed royal effort, has the AZ vaccine rollout been such a disaster? Tana “explains” that:

… [d]espite these efforts, Thailand, as with many other countries, is temporarily facing a shortage of vaccines. This can be attributed to inequitable distribution of vaccines around the world, as well as an overall shortage of vaccine supplies, caused by circumstances in the global vaccine industry and supply chains….

That would seem laughable. But, like his bosses and other royalists, he knows that no criticism of the royals can be made. Nothing but buffalo poo for them.

Putting Siam Bioscience aside, Tana highlights other “contributions” ascribed to the mostly missing-in-action royals. He highlights and lists royal “donations.” As far as we can determine, such claims tend to be discounted when some research is done. Many of the “donations” are government-funded.

In short, Tana is weaving a royal silk purse from a festering sow’s ear.





Updated: Failing virus fight

17 07 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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








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