In royal service

20 02 2015

Readers may have noticed a report, mainly about a threat to Thailand’s airline industry on safety grounds, that was headlined “VIPs stranded as Nok Air cancels flight.” Discussants at New Mandala have pointed out that the “VIPs” were an interesting lot, accompanied by a hoard of reporters:

All 85 passengers, including many premium passengers and 40 news reporters, had to leave the aircraft and wait at Nan Airport while airline maintenance staff undertook repair work.

VIP guests included privy councillor Palakorn Suwannarath, [puppet] National Reform Council president Thienchay Kirananada, PTT chairman and former Thai Airways president Piyasvasti Amranand, and Bank of Thailand Governor Prasarn Trairatvorakul.

Helpfully, another discussant points out that this gaggle of “VIPs” and the trailing reporters were all there to cover a gross royal event featuring the burly Princess Sirindhorn trailed by The Dictator, who has ordered that her birthday be the subject of nationwide “celebration.”

Even with a flagging economy and seemingly important political tasks to be completed, the “VIPs” remain little more than servants of the royals. They buff royal posteriors, wasting billions in taxpayer funds because the monarchy is the keystone of their political and economic dominance.

Royals and Abhisit on floods

6 11 2010

That Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has met the king at Siriraj Hospital to talk floods – where the latter has been for coming up 16 months – is widely reported. It seems that both Abhisit and the king need some positive publicity following Abhisit’s tardy, seemingly unconcerned and incompetent response and the royal family’s apparently mean response.

Bernama reports that the king “has expressed concern over the current severe flooding in Thailand…”. That seems to have taken some time, but getting time for a chat with the premier might not be all that easy.

Abhisit told journalists that the king “suggested that a long-term solution to flooding problem in the country, including improving water drainage system and building more projects to prevent floods along the Chao Phraya River and other waterways and canals, must be made in future.” Well, maybe. These ideas have been around for decades and drainage was one of the main reasons for the original round of canal building in the late 19th century. The utility of such infrastructure isn’t high for the northeast and the south.

The king, with no formal qualifications in engineering or water resources, is essentially providing a layman’s perspective that hasn’t changed all that much during his reign despite the push he has given to water projects.

Abhisit, of course, babbled on about the “Monkey’s Cheek” water retention idea that has flooded parts of Ayudhya province in past years. But it is a king’s idea, so can’t be questioned or critically assessed.

Abhisit’s focus seems to continue to be on protecting Bangkok. Seeking more favorable press, Abhisit is doing some token presentations of funds and relief supplies.

Meanwhile, Prince Vajiralongkorn is doing his bit. It is officially reported that “Thai Airways International Public Company Limited (THAI) has been bestowed a great honor from His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn who will graciously pilot the Buddhist Pilgrimage Flight to Bodhgaya, India, the place of enlightenment.” The journey will be on Saturday, 13 November 2010, with his consort and son joining “this auspicious flight” together with 100 “Buddhists and honored guests traveling with the Buddhist pilgrimage flight will visit the Mahabodhi Temple and pray at the revered Bodhi Tree, the site of Buddha’s enlightenment.” It was revealed that these religious devotees were to be “Government Ministers, businesspeople, government entities, and state enterprises…”.

Why now and at a time when such flamboyant and conspicuous wealth might be seen as tasteless? The main reason is to celebrate “THAI’s 50th anniversary.” For their 500,000 baht, the prince will present each “pilgrim” with “his royal insignia pin made with royal blue enamel and diamonds…”. The prince has a relationship with Thai Airways where he has been made a captain. An earlier charity flight with pictures is here.

The “entire net proceeds received from this Buddhist Pilgrimage Flight will be presented to His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, and will go towards His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn’s Scholarship Foundation and to His Royal Highness Prince Dipangkorn Rasmijoti’s Fund for Disaster Victims.” That’s right, the baby prince has a fund for disaster victims.The victims of the flood might get a few satang from the flight.


Newin and Abhisit

3 08 2010

Everyone recalls the wonderful picture of Abhisit Vejjajiva and Newin Chidchob embracing when the former became prime minister following the military-brokered deal to get the Democrat Party leading a royalist government.

Just a few days ago, PPT posted about Newin, referring to him as a banned political turncoat, vote-buyer and local mafia-like figure from Buriram. But did anyone think that Newin was arguably the most important figure in the government coalition? Well, maybe some did, but here is proof of his power and influence.

The Bangkok Post reports that Thai Airways International President Piyasvasti Amranand has had to defend his plans for a new no-frills spin-off from TG. He rushed to see Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij, Transport Minister Sopon Zarum and Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban “in a bid to clarify the need for Thai Tiger Airways, which was approved by the THAI board on Saturday…”.

And who else did he contact? Newin! Why? For one thing, Sopon is Newin’s man in a ministry and Transport is a big money-spinner. Notorious vote-buyer Newin needs money to fight the next election.

And a second consideration is that Newin has business interests involved. The Post reports that Sopon criticised “the THAI plan at the behest of Mr Newin, who feared it could eat into the business of Thai AirAsia, with which he has a close connection.” Apparently Newin and Sopon believe that “Thai Tiger Airways will compete directly with Thai AirAsia, which now dominates low-cost air travel in the region.” THAI actually rushed to get a signing agreement on television in an effort to evade the Newin-Sopon lobbying.

Newin is critical for the Abhisit government. He’s the only powerbroker capable of putting together any kind of challenge to the Peua Thai Party in the northeast whenever an election is held. If he gets a few more seats, the current regime might continue. With the regime giving billions to the military and handing out billions in populist schemes, how much are they prepared to shovel into Newin’s coffers?

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