Monarchy and health rumors

16 05 2021

Mad monarchism results in all kinds of weird contortions in Thailand. We think we have just noticed a doozie.

A couple of days ago we mentioned the rumors about the king. We stated: with the regime telling Thais not to believe fake news while not telling them what the fake news is, millions have gone seeking the “fake” news. It turns out to be a rumor that the king is hospitalized. No one knows if he is, but it seems the regime, by not denying the rumor has confirmed it for many.

We updated, noting that Royal Central had repeated the rumors of the king’s hospitalization. That more or less guarantees that the rumors will now spread internationally. We suspect the king needs to show himself or the Royal Household Bureau needs to issue a statement.

But, quite bizarrely, it is rumors that the queen had the virus that got the regime moving.

The Office of the Prime Minister is reported to have “dismissed as false online rumours that … the Queen was infected with Covid-19.” It went on to urge “people to monitor Covid-19 news from a reliable channel, such as the Facebook page of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.”

It can’t be just us who think this bizarre. Why does the regime come out immediately to deny health rumors about the queen, but is silent for days now on the rumors about the king’s health? Many will draw the conclusion that this suggests that the king really is ill.





Dictatorship of fools

28 04 2021

Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul has been pretty much a disaster in that position. Where Thailand had done reasonably well in the first year of the virus, this was mainly because Anutin’s early missteps led to the regime handing over to medical professionals.

Unmasked

Anutin unmasked. Clipped from Der Farang.

In recent weeks, however, Anutin and the regime have had criticism heaped upon them, even before virus cases increased substantially.

There was criticism of vaccine reliance on a state-subsidized Siam Bioscience and its production of AstraZeneca. As royalists, the regime threw money and (it hoped) prestige at the king’s company. And, it threatened critics with lese majeste for daring to question this (now) shaky decision. Now that decision has partly been undone as the regime scrambles to buy vaccine from multiple sources.

Then there were the political figures who became a virus cluster and the double standards involved as the regime refused to investigate. That masks were demanded and both Anutin and Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha have been caught unmasked has reinforced the idea that rules don’t apply to the big guys.

Of course, that the king, queen, and palace slitherers regularly appear in the royal news unmasked cannot be criticized.

In short, people realized that the virus response was politicized and failing. And, it is now thought that Anutin is making things worse and that policy is a “shambles.”

Pointedly, Anutin has fought back, declaring that the decisions are being made by Gen Prayuth:

On Monday night, the Minister of Public Health Anutin Charnvirakul deflected responsibility for the third wave of the pandemic by shifting blame to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha and saying that every decision was made by the premier.

In his tell-all Facebook post, Anutin said that his ministry had constantly advised the government on the correct decision but the prime minister and the covid emergency response centre were making decisions unilaterally.

Not only is the virus response a shambles, but so is the coalition. As Andrew MacGregor Marshall suggests, the coalition is fighting for survival.

The regime’s response is to hand The Dictator dictatorial powers:

The Thai cabinet today (Tuesday) designated Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha as the sole authority in charge of all responsibilities and duties, previously vested in his ministers, to deal with the current COVID-19 pandemic.

The powers vested in various ministers, by virtue of various laws regarding the issuance of orders, permits and approvals which will help in preventing or containing COVID spread or in helping the people, will be vested in the prime minister on temporary basis.

That’s as scary as Anutin running the show. As Thai Enquirer states:

Now with Prayut calling all the shots, the fate of the country rests in the hands of a man who did not even bother to research the vaccines his country will be bringing in before a nationally-televised press conference.

The notoriously poorly-informed, intellectually uncurious Prayut will now be charged with making the correct decisions to guide us out of this pandemic hellscape.

God help us all.





Framing activists

1 04 2021

AP reports that prosecutors have “indicted five pro-democracy activists on Wednesday on changes of attempting to harm the queen during a street demonstration last October in which some protesters shouted slogans critical of the monarchy.”

The five stand “accused of violating Section 110 of the Criminal Code, which says that whoever attempts an act of violence against the queen or the royal heir faces 16-20 years’ imprisonment.” This is another law “protecting” the monarchy, and this is, as far as we know, its first use in recent years.

As AP points out, there was no violence and “Queen Suthida … was not in any evident danger in the incident, which occurred when a limousine carrying the queen and the king’s son, Prince Dipangkorn Rasmijoti, passed through a small crowd of protesters mixed with supporters of the royal family.”

In other words, the protesters may have been set up and they are certainly being framed.

They include Akechai Hongkangwarn and Bunkueanun Paothong. It is reported that all “five deny any wrongdoing. After their indictment, they were released on bail of 200,000-300,000 baht ($6,400-$9,600) each.”





Updated: Counting the detainees

27 03 2021

Thai Enquirer has posted an updated list of political prisoners. Even so, it remains a mixture of estimates and known cases rather than a definitive list. Important points:

After eight months of protests, more than 400 people are being prosecuted for alleged violations ranging from littering and obstruction of traffic to sedition and lese-majeste.

Of those, 77 have been charged with violation of Section 112…. 112[S]ix [112 charges] are against people younger than 18.

Nineteen people are incarcerated awaiting trial with their bail requests repeatedly denied. Most of those are protest leaders charged with sedition and lese-majeste….

In the lese-majeste cases, 28 were brought by civilian plaintiffs, six by the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society, and the rest were filed by the police.

Many of the protest leaders are facing multiple charges.

Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak, now on his 12th day of hunger strike for his right to bail, faces 20 counts of lese-majeste.

Far more lese majeste and lese majeste-like cases are likely to follow as protests continue. Most recently, prosecutors have decided to indict protesters “for blocking … the Queen’s motorcade during an anti-government protest last October…”. This is a buffalo manure set of cases as a sightseeing queen and prince had their minions drive them to the protesters location, and while they copped some invective, their motorcade was not blocked in any significant way. The notion that they aimed to “commit violence against the Queen and [h]er liberty” is a fabrication.

We can expect further charges from Wednesday’s rally.

Update: Related to our last comment, the Bangkok Post reports that police are “taking legal action against 11 rally speakers and 10 other protesters at Wednesday’s demonstration at Ratchaprasong Intersection for allegedly violating the lese majeste law…”. That would bring the known total to somewhere close to 100 charged with lese majeste.





Cracks in the royal house

23 03 2021

Clipped from Royal World Thailand

For those who have read about dissension within the royal family and specifically between the queen and royal consort, this Facebook post from Royal World Thailand, seems to add interesting details as they become public.

Vajiralongkorn long ago declared that he would adopt the manners of a “traditional” king, and it seems that his decisions on his personal life are again creating problems.

So often in the past, these decisions have led to personal and palace crises.





Back in the news

13 02 2021

Royal World Thailand has published pictures of the “missing” Queen Suthida and a newly shown “Princess Patty.” After the social media hullabaloo about the missing queen, this appearance will simply set off more speculation about her whereabouts over the past month.

Clipped from Royal World Thailand

Princess Bajrakitiyabha’s military-style haircut seems to be a part of her father’s promotion of her to full Army general and her taking up that new role. Like kings of yore, Vajiralongkorn likes to have favorites and family running things.

Clipped from Royal World Thailand

All of the recent hyperventilating speculation about the queen did send PPT to the royal news more often. What we noticed was an absence of royals generally from the news. After the huge profile taken in putting down the anti-monarchists, it seems that almost all of them are resting or convalescing. Never has the royal news been shorter than in the past week. There are some small mercies.





Further updated: 112 updates

9 02 2021

It is reported that lese majeste case No. 58 of the current round of repression has been lodged – we seem to have missed cases 56 and 57 – with a 37 year-old man being charged “with the royal insult, or lese majeste, for allegedly mocking the monarchy at a shopping mall in December…”.

A fanatical royalist from Thai Pakdee accused Pawat Hiranpon “of feigning to genuflect and saying ‘Long Live Your Majesties’ at Siam Paragon on Dec. 20 when several pro-democracy activists were walking past him…”. The mad monarchist thinks he was being sarcastic.

At about the same time, UN human rights experts are reported to have “expressed grave concerns over Thailand’s increasingly severe use of lèse-majesté laws to curtail criticism of the monarchy, and said they were alarmed that a woman had been sentenced to over 43 years in prison for insulting the royal family.”

They stated: “We are profoundly disturbed by the reported rise in the number of lèse-majesté prosecutions since late 2020 and the harsher prison sentences…”. They added: “We call on the authorities to revise and repeal the lèse-majesté laws, to drop charges against all those who are currently facing criminal prosecution and release those who have been imprisoned…”. The regime will not heed such calls. It never has. It heeds the king, and it is he who has directed this repression strategy.

Meanwhile some better news, with the Criminal Court having “dismissed a petition by the Digital Economy and Society Ministry to remove a clip criticising the government’s Covid-19 vaccine policy by Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit.” The ministry claimed it constituted lese majeste. He criticized the secret deal between regime, the king’s Siam Bioscience, and AstraZeneca.

After being ordered to take down his half-hour analysis, Thanathorn challenged the order. He was successful after the full clip was played in court, with the court “saying no part of the clip clearly showed he criticised or raised questions in any way that could be deemed insulting to the monarchy.” It added: “There is no clear evidence it affects national security…”.

The court asked Thanathorn why he used the term “royal vaccines”. His reply was wonderful, pointing out that “he was not the first to use it.” He pointed out that: “It was Gen Prayut and government agencies who first used or implied it that way…”. They were milking propaganda for the king and that was turned back at them, and the court agreed: “The court viewed the term was borrowed from what the government had said earlier about the local vaccine production to show the mercy of the king. Mr Thanathorn’s use of the word was therefore not a lie, which could cause damage to the king.”

Of course, the regime is now scrambling on vaccines, issuing statements that seem designed to mollify growing criticism. For a useful report of further questioning of the king’s Siam Bioscience, see Khaosod.

Update 1: Prachatai reports on the 112 case facing Pawat (using Phawat ‘Pocky’ Hiranphon). It states that the “charge was filed by Acting Sub Lt Narin Sakcharoenchaikun), a member of Thai Pakdee…”. Further,

the investigator gave as the reason for the complaint to a cosplay activity at Siam Paragon on 20 December 2020, where Phawat was seen paying respect by bowing, giving a ‘wai’ (the Thai greeting) , saying ‘Long live the King’, and presenting flowers to Parit Chiwarak and Panussaya Sitthijirawattanakul, who cosplayed King Rama X and the Queen wearing crop tops.

The investigator alleges this was an act of mockery toward people paying respect to King Rama X.

Phawat is seeking evidence to file a complaint against Narin, as he sees the complaint as politically motivated and damaging to his reputation and income. Narin also is not the one offended by Phawat’s action.

Update 2: The Bangkok Post has an editorial calling for the regime to get on with vaccination rather than defending itself. The editorial notices:

Bombarded by criticism that it has been too slow and overly reliant on two sources, AstraZeneca and Sinovac, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha tried to explain the government’s immunisation strategy last Sunday.

The PM was far too keen on defending the government than shedding light on the crucial vaccine drive. Although he addressed some of the main points of criticism, the PM offered no new information.

His claims and promises also appeared unsubstantiated, with little or no detail at all.

Self-censoring, it doesn’t say much at all about the king’s Siam Bioscience.

The public health minister has only made things worse. Bent on protecting himself and the government, Anutin Charnvirakul essentially told people to keep quiet and stop questioning the vaccine procurement and immunisation plan. He also told other politicians who are not in the government to keep their advice to themselves.

Mr Anutin’s tantrum only reinforced his image as being out of touch.

Self-censoring, it doesn’t say much at all about the king’s Siam Bioscience.





Updated: Royal matters

5 02 2021

We don’t follow Royal World Thailand all the time, but reading a story at the South China Morning Post regarding Queen Suthida not being seen for some time and observing “anxiety among some diehard royalist supporters” about her “disappearance.” The SCMP stated:

Neither has the palace moved to discredit rumours swirling online that Suthida might suffer the same fate asKing Maha Vajiralongkorn’s three former wives, who were either forced into exile or publicly humiliated.

We guess that, based on his past bad behavior, suspicions could be aroused.

However, a search of Royal World Thailand found a story about the king and queen handing out more virus stuff – mobile units – which the story claims have been funded from “their own personal wealth.” The total said to have been “paid” is almost 30 million baht,

This outing is dated 26 January 2021.

Skeptics might think this fake palace propaganda, hiding something more sinister….

Also at Royal World Thailand, is the story of the king promoting his first daughter in the military – he loves handing out military rank to his favorite women.

Vajiralongkorn has made Princess Bajrakitiyabha a full general. The detail is worth reproducing:

Clipped from SCMP

According to the Royal Gazette, following His Majesty’s Royal Command to transfer the Public Prosecutor to the Military Officer relies on the Article 15 the Kingdom’s Constitution 2017, together with Articles 4 and 9 of the Royal Service Administration Act 2017, Articles 10, 13, 14, 15, and 18 of Royal Decree Organising Governmental Affairs and Personnel Administration for Royal Service 2017, and Articles 4 and 5 of the Military Rank Act 1936.

Her Royal Highness Princess Bajrakitiyabha, The Princess Rajasarini Siribajra who holds the position of Expert Public Prosecutor (Grade 5) Region 2 Public Prosecutor Office of the Office of the Attorney General, has been transferred to the military position of Chief of Staff of Royal Guard Unit, The Royal Security Command with the rank of General on 2 February 2021.

As the King is the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, he hence acts as the central unity of Thai army. Various military ranks have been granted to many royal members for decades. Some really works in military fields, e.g., teachers or specific commanders. Some attended trainings for gaining experiences. And some did not even join any trainings. Ranks were hence granted to be a personal honour.

For The Princess’s military pathway, she started the first military career in 2000 and received various ranks throughout the years:

    • 10 November 2000 – Second Lieutenant with Honorary Officer of the 1st Infantry Regiment
    • 23 October 2002 – Lieutenant with Honorary Officer of the 29th Cavalry Squadron
    • 10 September 2004 – Captain
    • 4 March 2018 – Major General with Honorary Officer of the Royal Guard Unit
    • 27 September 2019 – Lieutenant General
    • 2 February 2021 – General with Chief of Staff of Royal Guard Unit, The Royal Security Command

Besides working in judicial field as the Expert Public Prosecutor (Grade 5) of Region 2 Public Prosecutor Office of the Provincial Juvenile and Family Litigation in Rayong Province, the Princess attended the military training at Special Warfare School in Lopburi Province.

The Princess started the military career at the age of only 22, and received the respective ranks in general steps before pausing for almost 15 years. She was then skipped to the General ranks instead of Colonels’. Princess ‘Patty’ has unsurprising growing in military life for her 20 years of service, unlike Queen Suthida who has rapid military growing less than 10 years.

Updated: Several readers have commented that the story about the king and queen mentioned above was shown on the nightly royal news and did not include any video of the pair, just still photos overlaid on backgrounds. They suggest that it remains true that Suthida has not been seen “live” since late December.





Land of (no) compromise VIII

26 12 2020

Reinstated consort Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi is getting plenty of media coverage of late. Part of this has to do with leaked photos of her that are dripping out. The breathless discussion of the meaning of the leaks is probably overdone not least because it is based on supposition.

Of more significance is the recent report at Royal World Thailand‘s Facebook page, reproduced here (almost) in full:

It has been a viral about the news of His Majesty King Vajiralongkorn of Thailand who carried on his engagement together with the Royal Noble Consort Sineenat Bilaskalayani as a couple for the first time. Although it was known earlier among social medias, the people were much excited with this marvelous moment.

The King, accompanied the Royal Noble Consort to the ceremony of offering the Buddhist robes and kit at 2 temples in 2 different provinces in 2 days: Wat Phrathat Haripunchai Temple in Lamphun Province on 23 December, and at Wat Phra Maha Chedi Chaimongkol Temple in Roi Et Province on 24 December 2020.

Clipped from Royal World Thailand

Besides seeing Sineenat accompanied the King by herself, a lot of people might not expect to see the close moment between them two. Some may not surprise at all. Things admired the people were the outfits the couple wore which made the same tone of colour, and also her first ever public accompanying in social events.

However, there is much criticism about Sineenat who is being treated like a royal as she is still catogorised as a commoner, e.g., curtsying from the female officers, as well as sitting on a ‘royal chair’ which is used by the royals only. The royal household has even got a systematic rule of preparing the chairs for each class of royals for the ceremonies….

There are also much negative flows with unappreciated feedback from the supporters of Her Majesty Queen Suthida: saying it should have been her position to be aside the sovereign in such an official engagement as the Queen Consort, not a concubine. When Sineenat finally came out alongside the King, she is hoped by many to see her with the Queen in any future engagements.

Sineenat has been ironically encouraged by many of her supporters to fight for ‘her goal (?)’ The public image of the institution did not affect those who highly respect the monarchy. Nevertheless, as the people never forget what happened in the past, the King’s declaration to Sineenat as ‘guiltless person’ is considered just a text. She cannot get rid of all scandals spreading throughout the social media around the world.

Even those who still highly respect the monarch are unwilling to his life as “the Polygamy King” in this modern age after not having a Polygamous King for almost 100 years. Although it is, still, not widely and publicly accepted in the society, many people still think every single thing is the whole perfectness of their King, even being with his concubine. It is hence a good moment during Christmas week in Thailand….

Essentially, for all of its poor English, tells of the king conducting official palace business with the consort rather than the queen. Royal watchers see this as an indication of not just Goy being reinstated, but of her winning the king over to her “side” in some kind of intra-palace competition.

We have no idea if this is and more than rumor and imagination. However, for decades, the king has expressed his desire to be like kings of yore, and to have a harem. He’s done that, established a major queen, a minor queen-consort, and has a bunch of other women at his beck and call.

There may be some sniping in the palace, but the king wants to live like an absolutist and nothing in recent months has changed his course at all.





Mad, sad or manipulative?

14 12 2020

In another curated PR effort, the palace’s propaganda machine has had King Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida meeting with regular people(“subjects”) and speaking about things that make them seem more human.

The Bangkok Post dutifully reports the king expressing his humanness: “I’m just like other human beings.”

This is a strategy that was well-tested with the king’s dead father, who sometimes spent time in the countryside, with the photos of him perspiring and walking, “just like other human beings,” were recycled for decades as part of image-making.

Classic palace propaganda photo

Today, the task is to make an erratic, spendthrift, and egocentric king appear “just like other human beings.”

In this instance, the king mixed “humanness” with royalist propaganda: “On some days I feel despondent. On some days I feel sad. On some days, I almost don’t want to fight the bad things.”

For a “human” who has long been treated as a “god,” with minions on their knees doing his bidding since birth, the notion of “normalness” lacks credibility.

We do know that the young Vajiralongkorn was distant from his father, who sent him away to school in order to toughen and brighten him up. As a report earlier this year reported, “… Vajiralongkorn had received only the occasional phone call and three letters from his father during the first three years at Duntroon.” Perhaps this why Vajiralongkorn surrounds himself with compliant women and is beastly in his behavior to minions.

Perhaps he is despondent that demonstrators are objecting to the power and wealth he has accumulated in recent years while living the high life in Germany? If past form is any measure, though, we’d guess he’s furious rather than despondent. Hence, lese majeste is being wielded like a royal club, even against children.

An indication of this is in his complaint that the youth of today have “forgotten” his father’s “efforts” for the nation:

We should think about the country and think about how the institution of the monarchy and the people are inseparable. We need only look at what His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej The Great accomplished during his 70 years [reign]. Our younger generations may have forgotten about him.

In making these claims, Vajiralongkorn was speaking to 200 high school students. Interestingly, this context was symbolic of his accumulation of power. The students were at a training camp for “volunteers” at the Royal Thai Volunteers School, held inside the 11th Infantry Regiment (King’s Guard) base, which now belongs to the king, “given” to him by the Army, and publicized by the now notorious Jit Arsa Facebook page.

As usual, sweeping aside his wealth, political power, and his preference for Germany, where he spent most of 2020, the king declared he “would not abandon Thais and would do everything for them…”.

This is classic palace PR.