Rich royals seldom in Thailand

16 07 2019

We suppose that if one has all the loot in the world – well, perhaps just a paltry $50-60 billion – one can choose to live wherever one wants and maybe in more than one place.

It is known that King Vajiralongkorn has resided in Europe for quite a few years, with a preference for the area around Munich and with a recent penchant for Switzerland. He appears to enjoy biking, strawberry picking, buying antiques, hiking, skiing, mountains, fast and expensive cars and so on. Very European. Very expensive.

It seems the king’s second daughter shares her father’s love of Europe and for spending money. Society magazine Thailand Tatler devotes lots of space to Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana with its latest story on her most recent residence in Paris. It breathlessly writes of her “elegant surroundings of her Bougival residence, the accomplished designer, sportswoman and patron of the arts tells Thailand Tatler about her passions for fashion, horses and high culture.”

Clipped from Thailand Tatler

All very expensive.

The Tatler describes her as an “archetypal young person with ambition, drive, a zest for life and the determination to do something positive with it.” Positive seems to mean living in a mansion in Paris and living like, well, a princess of yore. Despite living the life of a wealthy royal she is said to “work hard.” Unfortunately, the article neglects to say what work she actually does apart from a bit of “fashion design” or bobbling along on expensive horses, which sounds rather unlike real work. The story is of a princess spending a fortune doing what she thinks is fun. The “training” in horsey stuff must cost a princess’s ransom.

What the story does do is recycle all the guff that has previously appeared in making her “princess narrative” that dedicated royalists soak up.

The article concludes that “[r]oyal duties and work notwithstanding, she is also a globetrotter. ‘Greece and the South of France are at the top of my favourite destinations list,’ she smiles. And I love Paris, so I visit all three quite often’.” It must be great to have all that loot and to spend it with gay abandon in places other than Thailand. What fun. What are the plebs doing?

International media on monarchy and military

23 12 2018

It’s the holiday season, so we at PPT felt that a bit of a round-up of what the international media is saying about Thailand. Unsurprisingly, the topics are monarchy and military.

The monarchy stories revolve around silly and sad notions. The silly is that ultra-royalists and others in Thailand have been so brainwashed by decades of palace and other propaganda over the claimed brilliance and alleged capacity of royals that no criticism can be made or implied. It is sad that the police and other elements of the (in)justice system accept complaints from a motley collection of royalist political activists, mad and corrupt military leaders, the palace itself and anyone else who shows up at a police station that can result in ridiculous secret “trials” for lese majeste and huge prison sentences.

The most recent case involves a blogger who commented on a frock “designed” by one of the king’s daughters, Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana. PPT couldn’t give a fig about the dress, but the controversy caused by a dopey royalist political candidate laying a complaint has caught the attention of the international media. Here are some of the stories:

The Guardian: “YouTube host faces charges for criticising Thai princess’s Miss Universe dress

TIME (via AP): “YouTuber Could End Up in Court After Criticizing Miss Universe Gown Designed by Thai Princess

Yahoo Finance: “YouTuber faces charges for calling a Miss Universe contestant’s dress ugly — here’s why

Ironically, as the police “investigate” the supposed slander of a dress allegedly designed by the princess, the senseless ultra-royalist has been arrested for a previous allegation of fraud.

On the military, the stories are about how the junta is intent on political longevity via its rigged election – no surprise for PPT readers. Here are some of the stories and op-eds:

EurAsia Review (via Bernama): “Thailand: Military To Retain Grip On Power Post-2019 Polls – Analysis

East Asia Forum has an op-ed by academic Kevin Hewison: “Another year of military dictatorship in Thailand

Deutsche Welle: “Will Thailand’s military step aside after elections?

Monarchy, bikes and dressing up

19 12 2018

There’s an avalanche of royal news this month, all of it meant to be flattering of the monarch. We can’t help but wonder how much this has to do with the junta’s “election.”

Readers will recall that the much-hyped royal bikeathon saw complaints, rumors, casualties, although not the politicized “deaths in custody” associated with the earlier iteration of this monarch-promoting propaganda event (see here and here). It seems that there has been yet another casualty, with the king, adopting a strategy from his father, and making “good” out of this by appearing as a benefactor.

The other event associated with the king and heavily promoted by the military junta is the dress-up festival celebrating the “good old days” of absolute monarchy. Called something like “Love and Warmth at Winter’s End, the River of Rattanakosin,” it is officially promoted as hugely popular, having “[t]hrongs of Thai and foreign visitors…”. The propaganda element for the monarchy is explicit:

Inspired by the reigning monarch, HM King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun of Thailand, the festival, the second of its kind, aims to cultivate love and unity among Thai people as well as illustrate the long-standing bond between the royal institution [they mean monarchy] and the people of Thailand.

This is also a junta mantra that is easily exploited in election campaigning.

There’s also some small commercial benefit, as the “festival features shops overseen by royal family members…”, which links to royal whims and some royal projects. These events are centered on the king’s still-being-created grand palace precinct. Then there’s the fact that even though taxpayer funds underpin the royal event, “[p]roceeds will be used to help the underprivileged and the needy in all regions of Thailand.” Of course this is another tried-and-true palace tactic to multiply the propaganda gains through the manufactured notion that the world’s wealthiest monarch is the country’s and the poors’ benefactor.

How successful the event is cannot be determined because of the lese majeste law and the junta’s repression. However, in another tip of the collective PPT hat to Andrew MacGregor Marshall, he shows how state agencies are ordered to send people to attend the event, each and every day and at taxpayer expense. Here we include clips from his post.

Not so flattering of the taxpayer-funded self-promoting royals is a story at Khaosod about a fashion blogger who has had to issue grovelling apologies for “insulting” a royal.

In recent years, the very mid-20th century Miss Universe parade of women has featured bizarre and nationalist “fashions.” Our vote for the weirdest goes to the 2015 Miss Thailand dressed as a tuk-tuk.

Internet TV show host Wanchaleom Jamneanphol  was criticized for asking why there was so much online “ridiculing [of] a poorly received red dress worn by Miss Thailand” but deafening silence “about another of her gowns designed by Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana”, one of the king’s daughters.

Over the years, she’s been credited with all manner of superhuman skills and abilities. Only diehard royalists believe this propaganda, but no one dares criticize a royal.

When Wanchaleom appeared critical, the ultra-royalists were outraged. Kitjanut Chaiyosburana, a member of the Mahachon Party lodged an official complaint with the police. Like all ultra-royalists, the candidate for the junta’s election saw no distinction between monarchy and nation, declaring:

I cannot accept that a well-known individual in the online world expressed negative opinions that affect the country’s reputation! I don’t think it’s the right thing to do. It’s irresponsible behavior.

Hardly anyone had ever heard of him or his junta-supporting party, but this leaping to the defense of a king’s kid who simply must be the best will get him attention.

Meanwhile, Wanchaleom immediately “wrote an apology addressed to the princess and said she had no intention to insult the monarchy.” She declared:

Your Royal Highness Sirivannavari Nariratana, I, Wanchaleom Jamneanphol, did not have any intention to insult or disrespect the high institution. I merely did not know the full consequences of my actions via my posts and comments, which caused damage to Your Royal Highness and the monarchy…. I deeply regret and feel guilty for my actions.

The king has been reluctant to allow any new cases of lese majeste prior to his coronation – bad luck and a bad image – but he has always strongly policed he and his family’s “reputation,” so it will be interesting to see where this little bit of ultra-royalist nonsense leads.

Making the king’s image

16 11 2018

The Bike for Mom and Bike for Dad events were junta-supported image-making efforts for King Vajiralongkorn. Both were associated with quite negative outcomes, including an alleged assassination plot and two deaths in custody. Yet the palace propagandists and the king seem to think that the image-making trumped those nasty outcomes.

So it is that Khaosod reports that the king is “set to lead thousands of cyclists in an epic bike ride across town again in December.” Apparently seeking to further obliterate the 85th anniversary of Thailand’s first “permanent” constitution, the king’s men have chosen the day before as a monarchical spectacular “River of Rattanakosin.”

Billed as “a sequel” to 2015’s Bike for Dad event, this bike ride is to begin at the much-expanded Royal Plaza “accompanied by his daughters, princesses Bajrakitiyabha and Sirivannavari.” The junta has been tasked with ensuring that some 40,000 cyclists “join the convoy on the 21-kilometer route to Lat Pho Park…” and back.

The monarchy image-making is intense and bears many of the hallmarks of that conducted under the previous king that eventually aimed at portraying him as a “demi-god.”

Dog styling

24 12 2015

PPT was looking through a few social media sites and was staggered to find a bunch of photos about another royal dog.

Not Fu Fu and not Thong Daeng, but Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana‘s mini-mutt.

Siri and the doggiesWe went to her Facebook page, where the vainglorious princess has lots of photos of herself posted, many of them of her shopping at really expensive places and others with dogs and horses. Yet we couldn’t find many of the photos that we re-post below. The first photo is from Facebook and introduces the little princesses.

There are several surprising things about the photos that follow. One is that the young and allegedly polymath princess seems to have few qualms about displaying wealth. In the first photo below, she positions her dog next to bags of shopping from expensive designer labels.Hermes dog

In a second photo, the dog seems to be enjoying a 500 Euro note as a plaything or “gift.” That’s about 19,700 baht. One of the lucky workers in Thailand who gets the 300 baht a day minimum wage, if they worked every day of a 30-day month, would get 9,000 baht. In other words, the royal pup’s money is more than double a month’s work for an average worker.

Rich dog

Not enough flaunting? How about if the pooch gets to yap and jump about in the First Class Cabin of a Thai Airways intercontinental flight? Here you go:

1st class

A lack of consideration of others is a royal trait – think of all the road closures as they swan around Bangkok and the provinces – and one element of this that caught attention was the pampering of the late Air Chief Marshal Fu Fu, Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn’s pooch. Then Ambassador Ralph Boyce describes dinner with the pet in November 2007, when the ambassador “paid a farewell call” on prince:

Foo Foo was present at the event, dressed in formal evening attire complete with paw mitts, and at one point during the band’s second number, he jumped up on to the head table and began lapping from the guests’ water glasses, including my own…. The Air Chief Marshal’s antics drew the full attention of the 600-plus audience members….

It seems normal for royal dogs to be at the table, napkin and silverware at the ready:

dog's dinner

And when it comes to Fu Fu, who can ever forget the video of the birthday party and the recently removed Princess Srirasmi’s nakedness. All this royal puppy ridiculousness and extravagance seems to have had no impact on the princess who has had lavish parties for the pooch, with officials doing the crawling this time:

Another doggie birthday

As would be expected, the dog has to have friends along for the celebration, each of the live ones handled by an official:

Birthday 2

And after a birthday celebration, of course the dog can have a marriage ceremony:

Doggie marriage

In the end, you see that the behavior of the prince, seen by outsiders as offensive and weird, is actually a model for his daughter. There seems an incapacity for learning and a detachment from (political) reality. This is Thailand’s monarchy.

Flaunting royal wealth

1 08 2015

The king and queen are hidden in hospital – when was the last time we heard anything about them? Chulabhorn is quiet, and Sirindhorn still scribbling, grinning and influencing postage stamps. Prince Vajiralongkorn is due to cycle for the queen and military dictatorship. Yet the royals do seem to have quietened down since the coup.

The fashionista of the frumpish family is Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana. We don’t usually follow her travels and son on, although we have mentioned her call for an island to be named after her, a report of her luxury travels and we have mentioned her capacity for luxury and wasting taxpayers’ money when a self-indulgent princess traipses around the world in a “career” that is just one on a list of the rich kid’s bucket list of “great” things she will be “great” at. She certainly seems to be great at spending the taxpayer’s money and, we guess, plenty of the family’s buckets of money.

Royals everywhere tend to be rich and self-indulgent, but with the Thai economy in a military-induced fall, we wondered about her flaunting of extravagance in a story and video at the UK’s Daily Mail. Many readers will prefer to skip the story and especially the video, yet the story of royals and Paris Fashion Week 2015 tells us about Sirivannavari’s penchant for horrendously expensive designer clothes and shoes.

The story tells us that “Style maverick Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana of Thailand is regularly snapped at fashion week looking more like an on-trend blogger than a member of the royal family thanks to her natty glasses, clashing patterns and platform boots.”

Performing like the other vacant celebrities, with the video revealing for us, we are informed that the “28-year-old daughter of Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn is fast becoming a fashion phenomena the world over because of her couture threads and cutting-edge looks from designers such as Dior, Chanel and Jean Paul Gaultier.” Shoes too: “She also has a shoe closet to rival Carrie Bradshaw and often steps out in creations by luxury footwear brands Christian Louboutian and Valentino.” Naturally enough, PPT had no idea who Bradshaw was but we soon found that the sit-com character had a truckload of expensive shoes.

All a bit much, we thought, but wealthy royals and their supporters will gush and polish butts.

Island naming rights

1 04 2015

Readers may have noticed a report from a few days ago that had it that one of Thailand’s princesses was so struck by a holiday visit she made to an island that she decided it should be renamed after herself.

The Bangkok Post reported that “Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana has renamed an island in Phangnga province after being impressed by its white sandy beaches and crystal clear water.” Known as Tachai Island, and a part of the Similan Islands in the Andaman Sea, the egotistical princess commanded that its the new name be “Sirivannavari.”

She is one of Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn’s daughters and we have posted on her several times before as she has had her posterior polished in various ways.

According to the report, she “made the decision after holidaying on the island last week,” and the Department of Natural Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation was “preparing the relevant documentation to give the island its new name.” At the same time the young woman “also named three stone heaps close to Tachai Island as Nariratana 1, Nariratana 2 and Nariratana 3…”.

The director of Thailand’s National Parks department says the name of Ta Chai island has not been changed, reversing another official’s announcement over the weekend that the daughter of the Crown Prince had renamed the island after herself.

Soon after, Khaosod reported something else: “… Nipon Chotibal, director of the central Department of National Parks, said on 29 March that the name has not been changed.”

“It is not true,” Nipon told reporters, “Her royal visit to the island was to study nature. She is interested in marine and coastline resources, and she gave moral support for the officials in the National Parks of Similan and Surin.”

“There has been no action to give a new name to Ta Chai island,” he said.

Obviously, something odd is going on here. Princesses and other royals often get things named after them, including roads, dams, parks and so on. It is all part of the sycophancy that dominates royalist Thailand. What seems different here is that the young woman has been seen to publicly ask for this naming. Usually they send minions to make the suggestion-cum-demand.