Another royal hobby

5 08 2019

Being honest, we have to say that we had never heard of the Chulabhorn Royal Academy until a reader sent us this story from an Australian source.

To be sure, we had heard of the  Chulabhorn Research Institute, which is said to be headed up by (a now very ill) Princess Chulabhorn. The latter’s website in English looks dated, although there are bits and pieces that seem updated, and its Facebook page has been unused since 2013. Has there been a loss of interest?

The Chulabhorn Royal Academy is said to have been established in January 2016 with a royal decree making it “an advanced research and higher educational institute, and the HRH Princess Chulabhorn College of Medical Science to be a college within the academy specialising in medicine, nursing and health sciences. PCCMS admits about 30 students per year in the MD course…”. It is claimed that it “consists of the School of Medicine and Public Health, School of Nursing and the Sonographer School. It is an academic institution affiliated to Mahidol University…”.

This Academy’s website is more up-to-date and interesting, not to say professional when compared with the Institute.

Both the Instiute and the Academy appear to have had considerable funds poured into their buildings, we assume at taxpayer expense.

To the Australian story. It is reported that the University of Newcastle, a relatively low-ranked Australian school “plans to partner with a royal Thai academy to offer a dual med engineering degree…”. It reports:

VC Alex Zelinsky has signed an MOU with (deep breath) Dr Her Royal Highness Princess Chulabhorn Mahidol of Thailand, to develop a dual degree with HRH’s Chulabhorn Royal Academy.

The four-year programme combines medical innovation and engineering degrees. Students will start with 18 months in Thailand, followed by two years at Uni Newcastle and a final six months on business and entrepreneurship at Chulabhorn RA.

It adds that this arrangement:

will be a bolster for Uni Newcastle’s med science standing in SE Asia. In April it was one of three Australian and 100 overall international med schools whose graduates were dropped from the Singapore Government’s approved for practice register.

The Academy appears set on partnering with a range of second and third tier universities world wide. At the same time, it seems to be operating as yet another palace propaganda outfit. We guess no one dares ask about its worth or its cost to the taxpayer.

Further updated: Unsubstantiated rumors and speculation

13 10 2016

Because the palace provides little information, there is considerable speculation about the king’s dying days.

Social media has some pretty long and involved discussions of what’s happening and what will happen.

Much of this is highly speculative. For example, there social media speculation that the prince returning to Thailand by a TG flight is seen as significant of something by some, such as control by the military junta. Some see his return as evidence that there will be no intervention in succession. We will soon know if any of this speculation and guessing is worth the huge efforts that go into it.

One current social media rumor is that the “old brass” from the Privy Council is currently meeting with the junta’s “new brass.” This seems  reasonable speculation and we’d guess that such a meeting would not be the first. If there is going to be any interference in succession, these are the main players but there’s no recent and compelling evidence to suggest that there will be such an intervention, but the junta’s Thailand is highly secretive and that needs to be kept in mind.

Reports from Thailand suggest that there is a calm “waiting” going on. That said, we can expect considerable grieving when it is announced that the king has died.set-index

Update 1: Here is another claim that needs to be considered carefully before believing it. And we mean the one by the junta’s “Deputy junta head for the Economy” Somkid Jatusripitak, who declares that the “authorities are now hunting for people who are causing Thailand’s stock market to plummet rapidly.” Apparently now infected by junta-itis, which affects the brain, detaching it from reality, he says he “has ordered Securities and Exchange Commission of Thailand (SEC) to find people who are spreading rumours causing rapid fall on the nation’s stock market…”.

It’s the Royal Household Bureau’s announcements and then the failure of the junta and palace to say anything about the way they are dealing with the king’s demise that are causing the drop.

Somkid “said that Thai people should not become victims of those who are spreading rumours for personal gains, adding that people should trust in the nation’s economic potential and follow news from the government sources only.” See what we mean? Only believe the military dictatorship!

Then, remarkably, he added to the rumors: “This country is now at a very important moment and things will gradually get better…”. So the king is dead or about to die, now confirmed by this statement.

Update 2: The Bangkok Post reports that Princesses Sirindhorn, Soamsawali, Chulabhorn and Prince Vajiralongkorn are again at Siriraj Hospital. We see no mention of the queen, who is also hospitalized.

Anniversary and operations

9 06 2016

Two monarchy stories have been prominent this week. One is about the 88-year-old king’s ongoing and tortuous last years as his health declines and the royal doctors work to keep him alive. The second story is of the muted commemoration of the king’s 70 years on the throne – a throne that he came to in still official mysterious circumstances of his brother’s death. Of course, as Andrew MacGregor Marshall says, the unofficial story is that the present king “killed his brother,” without necessarily implying intent. One newspaper report mentions the event.

Superstitious types might link the two stories.

About a week ago, the Royal Household Bureau reported another problem in the the king’s health, saying he was being “closely monitored for irregular function of his heart muscles…”. We commented that this might be cardiac dysrhythmia, that could indicate a heart attack, but that it could also be many other disorders. Within days, it was reported that the king had “received treatment for narrowing of the heart arteries with ‘satisfactory results’,” dealing with the coronary artery disease that often impacts the elderly.

The report states that “[d]octors performed a procedure known as balloon surgery to widen the arteries on Tuesday … after tests had shown insufficient blood in the heart muscles. Arteries on both sides of the king’s heart had narrowed…”. The Bangkok Post reported the Royal Household Bureau also inserted a “stent and rotablator in some locations, to widen the arteries…”. Details on the use of rotablator can be found here. Information on stents and balloon angioplasty is here.

Less reported in the international media has been the sickly Princess Chulabhorn’s hospitalization. The latest report on her condition – third report from the palace – is that she remains in hospital following a “biopsy on May 20 at the hospital after a polyp was found in her neck.” Late in May, doctors stated she “had a high fever at times and was still very weak.” The latest report says ” she remained very weak, and doctors therefore had recommended that she put off royal activities for a while longer.” It refers to “a successful operation to remove a tumour from her neck…”.

The commemoration of the king’s 70th year on the throne is not at all like the massive series of events staged on the 60th anniversary. With the king more or less out sight, unable to effectively do anything and very ill, such celebrations were never likely. Newspapers have specials, wire services have stories, the “compulsory” commemorative banknote has been released, world leaders sent regards and the military junta has arranged a few things.

The international media has shown some interest, with the International Business Times UK having not much of a story but quite a few high-quality photos that can be interpreted in various ways. Interestingly, the only two prime ministers of Thailand we can identify in them are Thaksin and Yingluck Shinawatra.

Updates on Somsak and LINE

12 04 2016

A couple of updates of record.

First, several outlets have reported the good news that Dr Somsak Jeamteerasakul, currently in political exile in France, has seen the Central Administrative Court rule that his dismissal by Thammasat University without pension and other benefits “was unlawful, thus reinstating Somsak’s status as a lecturer at Thammasat.” The university may appeal, which would be retrograde and spiteful.

Second, New Mandala has tracked down the “offending” LINE “stickers” that recently caused a royalist kerfuffle. It has more information on these:

The set called “Silly Family” featured 41 stickers cleverly poking fun at the politically controversial clan. In Thailand, critical public discussion of the family has been banned under the nation’s notorious and harsh lese majeste laws.

The satirical set depicts Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn and Princess Sirindhorn competing for their father’s attention and squabbling over the throne. It also portrays Princess Chulabhorn next to a chemistry set underneath the caption “Trust Me”, referencing her numerous and questionable honorary degrees in the field, as well as featuring the Crown Prince’s spoiled poodle Foo Foo.


King “improving” but Princess wants prayers

17 09 2015

The Bangkok Post and most other media report that the king “is recovering from a fever and a lung infection,” at least according to the Royal Household Bureau. Four or five days ago the Bureau stated that he had more or less returned to normal.

Now they say his “fever has gone while his pulse, blood pressure, breathing and blood oxygen levels have returned to normal. Blood tests and a chest X-ray showed he was recovering well from his lung infection.”

It now states that the long ailing king “was now able to eat, but doctors will continue to supply his nutrition intravenously for now, as well as administering oxygen.”

Meanwhile, at Khaosod, Princess Chulabhorn isd reported as having “called upon all Thais to pray for her father…”. That call seems to have been earlier in the week.

Khaosod claims that the king has been in hospital “after being sent to the hospital for what the palace described as a routine check-up in May.” That was certainly not the case, with the king being rushed back to hospital from Hua Hin.

Royalists are said to be praying.


Us and them

3 11 2014

The military dictatorship has made at least two things clear during its post-coup period of absolute power. First, it is determined to promote royalism. Second, it is determined to wipe out Thaksinism. The two processes are, of course, related. This is made clear in two stories at Khaosod.

The first story at Khaosod is about royalism and its promotion.

The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, who has long been close to the palace and especially the queen, has declared that “Thailand will begin a year-long celebration of Princess … Sirindhorn’s 60th birthday starting next January…”.Sirindhorn

The portly princess has her 5th cycle birthday on 2 April next year. Normally there is a week or so of “celebrations” forced upon all Thais around the time of her birthday. However, the military dictatorship is engaged in a major propaganda campaign promoting royalism, and they know that Sirindhorn is one of the few who can be used.

The king and queen are hanging on to life, Chulabhorn is sick and widely disliked. The prince is little interested. And all of the various offspring are apparently uninterested and not considered to be worthy of promotion.

After reporting that there will be a year of non-stop propaganda, the newspaper says that “Sirindhorn made a public appearance yesterday at a military academy in Nakhon Nayok province, where she briefly participated in a marathon organised by the armed forces.” The “briefly” is significant. At her age and weight, it is not a great idea to be jumping about lest another royal end up in hospital.

The second story at Khaosod is about blotting out Thaksin Shinawatra.

The Dictator “has asked the media to ‘cooperate’ by not publishing news about the controversial former Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra.”

Prayuth reckons that “news and photos of Thaksin could cause conflict in society.” He warned: “please don’t make me use laws or power or force. I ask you to engage in conservations and find solutions for the problems that have been building up in the past.”


A Khaosod photo

Why does he demand this censorship, which he described as “not censorship” under the dictatorship?

Prayuth explained: “The media should not publish news about that,” meaning Thaksin and Yingluck’s trip to China, adding, “Don’t publish photos of persons who violate the law. That is all. Why are you still featuring news [about him?].”

Not reporting on those who have not violated the law would make for a blank newspaper. For example, if “violating” does not mean a court conviction but just “violating,” then most of the cabinet, military and police leaders, much of the National Legislative Assembly, and other bodies appointed by the junta could not be reported.

Wiping Thaksin from Thailand’s collective hard drive seems to involve history and school texts and now the media. More important for the junta and its allies is dismantling “Thaksin’s extensive network of supporters.” As the newspaper reports, “Hundreds of politicians, activists, and academics perceived to be sympathetic to Thaksin were summoned and briefly detained by the military after the coup, while a handful of Thaksin loyalists have fled the country to avoid persecution.”

The picture the junta wants is of a Thailand that has probably never existed, a fairy tale kingdom where Thaksin never existed, where the monarchy was loved by all (or at least not actively opposed and ridiculed), and where the corrupt in the military are never questioned about their unusual wealth.

Secretive monarchists

1 05 2014

The Ad Hoc Committee on Studying and Monitoring Problems Concerning Law Enforcement and Measures for the Protection of the Royal Institution, chaired by Gen Lertrit Wechsawarn, is apparently a new “committee” formed by what the Bangkok Post refers to as a “group of ultra-royalist senators.”

The report says that the mostly unelected senators have “agreed to use social networking to protect the monarchy.”

This remarkable breakthrough in the struggle to prevent the decline and fall of the Thai monarchy came from a secret, “closed-door seminar Tuesday to brainstorm tactics at Government House.” Of course, secrecy is important for royalists because truth is dangerous and has to be kept from the public.

General Lertrit told journalists the aim of his secret cabal was “to build up a strong network of pro-monarchists” that would “create measures to counter those offending the royal institution…”.

Deputy Senate Speaker Surachai Liengboonlertchai if citizens and the state performed their “duties well enough,” this would be a “starting point” to “ignite… the royal protection [movement]…”.

Reporters were thrown out after the opening speeches, “despite being invited, and given a handout about the group and its purposes.” That handout explained that:

the seminar was held because committee members had found that information and communication technology was being used improperly to insult the royal institution, and attempts were being made to link the monarchy to current political movements.

Perhaps they’ll close Princess Chulabhorn’s ludicrous Facebook page that has her supporting the anti-democrats.Chulabhorn

The unelected lot reckon that “a group of corrupt politicians has tried to discredit the royal institution.” It is clear they mean pro-Thaksin Shinawatra political parties that manage to win elections.

In fact, though, it was the 2006 coup and the stupidity and arrogance of the palace’s political manipulators did the discrediting.