Pavin on the “forgotten kingdom”

1 11 2022

At Asia Media International, a publication from Loyola Marymount University’s Asia Pacific Media Center, Pavin Chachavalpongpun writes of his fears for Thailand in the contemporary moment:

Thailand has become a “forgotten kingdom.” Despite a myriad of domestic troubles, ranging from the growing absolutist monarchic power, the remaining authoritarian rule, the highly politicized judiciaries, to the heightened legal harassments against pro-democracy youths, Thailand is virtually free from international pressure and sanctions.

This is largely because:

While the world is busy dealing with greater threats to the international community, including the war in Ukraine, the growing clout of Russia and the leadership question in China, Thailand is left unattended. The global spotlight is elsewhere. This could allow authoritarianism to thrive in Thailand.

The youth protesters are caught in a dilemma. Their protests had an impact, but not what they intended:

Since the outbreak of Thai protests, there has been no sign from King Vajiralongkorn of his willingness to work with democracy. Instead, Thais have witnessed the mounting absolutist power of the monarchy….

But lately, there have been some changes within the walls of the palace. After the protests dissipated, it seemed that Vajiralongkorn has adopted a less controversial lifestyle. He now resides mostly in Thailand, refraining from commuting so frequently between Bangkok and Munich, hence reducing chances of being a target of German paparazzi. This includes no more riding a bicycle in a tiny tank top. He also appears in public only with his queen, Suthida, rather than flaunting the threesome relationship involving the second wife, Royal Noble Consort Sineenat. Indeed, Sineenat has disappeared from the public eyes, swirling up gossips that questioned her wellbeing and whereabouts. [is she back?]

Because there have been no new issues concerning the king, it will be difficult to call for another round of protests. Even if a protest could be organised, the protesters might have to revisit their demands for royal reforms proposed two years ago. Whether the public would continue to support the old demands is a challenge for the entire youth movement….

Thailand is trapped in stagnation…

 





VOA and Pavin

28 10 2022

VOA Thai reports that its interview with Pavin  Chachavalpongpun sparked a “rare, vibrant discussion on Monarchy”:

Viewers flocked to VOA Thai’s interview with Pavin Chachavalpongpun – one of Thailand’s most influential activists for accountability and transparency of the country’s monarchy – with nearly 250,000 views and more than 100,000 engagement actions on social media. Pavin, a Thai scholar and political exile, explained how he saw his role in promoting constitutional monarchy and Thai democracy. The interview prompted lively online debate about the future of Thailand’s 800-year-old monarchy – a topic that is on people’s minds but not freely discussed, given its strict lese majeste law.

[PPT: It makes no sense to write of an 800 year monarchy given that there were so many changes of “capital,” many competing and self-proclaimed princes and kings, many usurpers, and many violent coups over that 800 years. That claim is part of a post-1932 royal propaganda meant to support the revival of the monarchy.]





Monarchism and Foreign Affairs

11 10 2022

We seem to have missed this free article from the the Journal of Contemporary Asia. From JCA’s blog:

On His Majesty’s Service: Why is the Thai Foreign Ministry Royalist?” (DOI: 10.1080/00472336. 2022.2081930) is a new article by Pavin Chachavalpongpun of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at Kyoto University in Japan.

This article is now available for free download. This offer expires soon.

The abstract for the article states:

In the final decade of the King Bhumibol Adulyadej reign, various state agencies lined up to defend the monarchy against political opponents. Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs was one of those state agencies expressing its disdain for elected governments dominated by Thaksin Shinawatra whose popularity was perceived to threaten royal power and prerogative and, hence, the stability of the throne. Beginning in 2006, Thai diplomats, serving and retired, joined anti-Thaksin movements calling for his resignation, which culminated in the 2006 military coup. The research question for this study is: Why is the Thai Foreign Ministry royalist? It is argued that the Foreign Ministry’s contempt of Thaksin was, at one level, due to its obligation to reinforce royal hegemony. At another level, the Foreign Ministry sought to protect itself in the face of Thaksin’s drastic bureaucratic reforms. This study traces the source of royalism among Thai diplomats. It explores the impact of the bureaucratic modernisation in the late nineteenth century, which further deepened ties between the Foreign Ministry and the palace. It also examines the characteristics of Thai diplomats as a privileged political caste whose status is sustained by its dependence on the monarchy. In the final part, the study discusses Thaksin’s control of foreign affairs, inevitably instigating a clash with the Foreign Ministry.





Sharing Pavin 112

26 09 2022

On 26 September 2022, Absorn (pseudonym), 23, employed at a private company, was sentenced by the Criminal Court to 4 years in prison on lese majeste, computer crimes.

The court decided that as she had never been previously been sentenced to prison, her sentence was reduced to 2 years and suspended for 3 years. She will be on probation for 2 years.

Absorn, a trans woman, was charged on a complaint made by the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society after she shared a Facebook post by academic Pavin Chachavalpongpun. The exiled Pavin argued that the campaign was “outdated” and:

claimed that the … royal family launched a public relations campaign in order to compete with pro-democracy protesters, such as by having Princess Sirivannavari, King Vajiralongkorn’s youngest daughter, join a dance event, or reporting that Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi, the [then] King’s royal consort, supported a Royal Project by buying products from the Sai Jai Thai Foundation.

Absorn shared the post and without adding anything to it.

She was charged in November 2020. The public prosecutor prosecuted her “on the grounds that the post contain false information and may mislead the public into thinking that the King is an enemy of the people and tries to interfere with politics. The prosecutor also said that the post was rude and intended to cause hatred against the King.”

Of course, facts about the royal family are disputed, but never by the royalist courts. At the time, it was clear that the royal family mobilized to push back against reform calls.

Absorn said the “post was shared onto her old Facebook account which she no longer used. She also immediately took the post down after a coworker warned her it might be illegal.”





Further updated: Mad, mad, monarchism III

2 09 2022

For those wanting an update on the mad royalist effort to prevent serious academic study of the monarchy in Thailand, Prachatai has it.

The story there opens with this:

Chaiyan

After it was disclosed that an investigation report into allegations that historian Nattapol Chaiching falsified information in his PhD thesis may itself contain falsehoods, political scientist Kullada Kesboonchoo Mead has published an open letter to the Chulalongkorn University Council, calling on it to reject the report.

Much of the royalist fervor can be attributed to Chaiyan Chaiyaporn, of the Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University, who has proclaimed himself a defender of everything royal. In claiming “errors” in Nattapol’s work (since corrected), Chaiyan has himself made errors. In the mad world of royalists, however, his error is an “honest mistake” by a “good person.”

Update 1: PPT has yet to obtain a copy of the Bangkok Post article published on 18 December 1950, which the Post stated it had reproduced. Any reader have a copy they can send us?

Update 2: While on the topic of academic research and monarchism, we noticed that Pavin Chachavalpongpun’s recent article “On His Majesty’s Service: Why is the Thai Foreign Ministry Royalist?” is available for free download.





The attacks on 112 exiles

16 08 2022

The Japan Times has an op-ed on attacks on Pavin Chachavalpongpun in Kyoto and Aum Neko in Paris. It uses these cases to speak more broadly to attacks on dissidents overseas by several regimes.

On Pavin’s case:

Appearing at the Kyoto District Court in May to deliver a statement, Pavin, 51, who is living in exile in Japan, asked the defendant sitting in front of him, “I don’t even know you. I want you to tell me who asked you to attack me, and what was the purpose?”

The culprit, 43, is an unemployed Japanese man. According to the indictment, the man broke into Pavin’s apartment in the city of Kyoto in the early hours of July 8, 2019, and injured him and his partner with tear gas while they were asleep. The man pleaded guilty to the charges of intrusion and causing injuries and was sentenced to one year and eight months in prison on June 8 this year….

The defendant said his motive was that a “senior colleague had repeatedly asked” him to carry out the attack. He did not reveal the name or identity of his “senior colleague.”

On Aum;s case:

Aum when in Bangkok

An attack targeting a Thai national also took place in Paris in November 2019. Aum Neko, 28, was suddenly beaten by a group of men upon leaving a restaurant with an acquaintance. Three Czech nationals in their 20s were arrested and sentenced to prison terms in November 2021, but their roles and motives remain unclear.

Both Pavin and Aum face lese majeste charges.

Instilling fear into dissidents is meant to silence them. For Pavin and Aum, that seems unlikely.

 

 





Palace discipline

15 06 2022

At 112 Watch, there is a list compiled by Pavin Chachavalpongpun where he has gone through Royal Gazette announcements from 3 August 2016 to 31 August 2020.

Given the manner in which King Vajiralongkorn has used the Gazette, often in furious language, to instill “discipline” and fear, this is a very useful listing. It details the causes of dismissal, demotion, de-decoration, de-robing and imprisonment of each individual under King Vajiralongkorn.

86 individuals are listed.





Death of King Ananda

9 06 2022

On the anniversary of his death, in addition to the usual books and blogs on the death of King Ananda Mahidol – Marshall, Pavin, etc. – readers may find this old book of interest: Alexander MacDonald, Bangkok Editor. An account of the first major royalist coup, the death of King Ananda and the politics of the period, available at Library Genesis.

The most recent effort is by Pavin Chachavalpongpun in his Love and Death of King Ananda Mahidol of Thailand. It is also available at Library Genesis.





On 112

4 06 2022

Readers will be interested in a recent post at 112Watch. In “A View from Australia on Article 112” the University of Queensland’s Patrick Jory is interviewed. It is a long piece, so we suggest reading all of it.

Jory asks if “the Thai monarchy can be reformed, and survive. If one thinks about it carefully, at a bare minimum, reform of the monarchy would have to mean the reform or abolition of the lèse-majesté law.”

PPT has added 112Watch to our blog roll. It is said to be “a coalition of people and an organisation that value human rights and democracy. 112Watch aims to halt the Thai authorities’ escalating use of Article 112, Thailand’s lèse-majesté law, which is used to punish, to sideline and to silence citizens.” It appears that the organizing force in it is Pavin Chachavalpongpun.

In addition, PPT has been adding 112 cases to our Pending & acquitted page. We are still a long way behind on this, including for major activists who face multiple charges, but we are doing our best to catch up.

Readers may also want to look at our Lese majeste and the monarchy page, which we have also updated.





Updated: Horsing around

20 09 2021

We recently posted on the declining royal Princess Sirivannavari. Known for being remarkably tone deaf on social issues, even if she’s unpopular, it doesn’t stop her from living a globetrotting life of luxury.

According to a Facebook post by Pavin Chachavalpongpun, while Thais are still facing restrictions due to the virus, Sirivannavari is off traveling the world, staying in 5-star hotels, and spending taxpayer money.

We stress that there is no independent confirmation of Sirivannavari’s touring, but have to admit that Pavin’s short details fit her modus operandi. Pavin states: “Amid the covid epidemic Sirivannavari still squanders tax on people who travel as if playing. Now in Denmark, she’s there to buy a horse.”

Clipped from Thailand Tatler

He says she’s stayed at the D’Angleterre Hotel. We looked at the hotel’s website and we guess her room’s costing about 17,000 baht a night. We don’t know how many hangers-on she’s got, which would inflate the cost of hotel substantially. It is also said she’s renting four limousines. Then there’s meals and other local expenses as well as the cost of flights.

The horses she’s interested in is apparently from a stable that handles horses for the Danish royals. We can’t even guess how much that will cost the ever-suffering taxpayer.

Sirivannavari’s travel, while most Thais are stuck, would seem poor PR, but not for the thick-headed princess. It is one of her traits that she flaunts her (dad’s) great wealth. We guess that she’s gotten bored with Thailand, and has decamped to her mansion in Paris and is again living like a princess of yore.As she’s previously gushed, “Greece and the South of France are at the top of my favourite destinations list…. And I love Paris, so I visit all three quite often.” And she screws the plebs.

Update: A reader asks if the king is in Europe as well. We have no idea, but can confirm he hasn’t appeared in the royal news for a very long time. His last engagement promoted by the Royal Office was on 26 July.








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