Welcome back III

2 01 2022

Further to our earlier posts, here and here, Prachatai has now reported on the events at Wongwian Yai, where several anti-112 protesters gathered and a woman broke the security cordon around King Vajiralongkorn.

It recounts that “[t]hree activists, one a 17 year old, were arrested on Tuesday night (28 December) for holding up banners with the message ‘abolish Section 112’ at Wongwian Yai, where a crowd of people were waiting to see King Vajiralongkorn and his entourage.” In fact, five were detained by police. Two were released while those charged were “Sainam, Baipor, and Tawan (last names withheld) – [who] were taken to the nearby Bupharam Police Station.” It is stated that “police released the other two activists as they were only taking pictures of the protest, not shouting or holding up banners.”

Explaining the protest,

Tawan, 20, said that they arrived at Wongwian Yai around 16.00 and were planning to raise their banners when the royal motorcade reached the scene to communicate directly with the King. Although concerned that they might be attacked by royalists, she said that they still wanted to exercise their right to express their opinions.

Tawan added that the woman who ran towards the king “was not part of their group and that they never approached the royal entourage.”

Baipor said that they planned to stand on the footpath but while waiting, were approached by a plainclothes officer who appeared to recognise Sainam. According to Baipor, they told the officer that they were only holding banners and did not intend to cause harm. Unidentified men in yellow shirts then surrounded them. In footage of the incident, formally clad police officers receiving the royal motorcade took part in the arrest.

Tawan added that the men in yellow shirt[s] surrounded them for around an hour. Once the Queen appeared, they lifted up their banner, but the men immediately pulled it down. She said that they were not planning to make noise, but when the men snatched their banners away, they began shouting “abolish Section 112.”  They had earlier decided to do this if they were assaulted. The men dragged them away, putting their hands over the activists’ mouth and choking them in the process.

… A video clip of the incident shows the activists being surrounded by men wearing royal volunteer service yellow shirts and scarves.

These “volunteers” include many police and military officers. They are sent to bolster crowds at royal events.

According to Tawan, when the men sought to physically silence her by placing their hands over her mouth, they knocked her contact lenses out of position, pushing them deep inside her eyelids.  She was later able to remove them but Sainam and Baipor both suffered injuries. Baipor was cut on the lips.

She said “the activists demanded to know what crime they were being charged with. Instead of answering, the officers ordered them to sit down and pushed them to the ground.” Only after the royals had left were they taken to the police station.

The activists were “charged with causing a public commotion and failing to comply with police orders. Each received a 1000-baht fine. Following their release, they said that they were going to a hospital to make a record of their injuries and would by pressing charges against their assailants.”





A royalist ode

21 11 2021

According to Royal World Thailand, King Vajiralongkorn, his queen and his favorite consort have been briefly back in Thailand before returning to Switzerland and Germany. In Thailand:

… King Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida of Thailand, with … Princess Bajrakitiyabha, … Princess Rajsarini Siribajra​ and Princess Sirivannavari, along with the Royal Noble Consort Sineenat Bilaskalayani presided over the ceremony of changing the seasonal attire for the Emerald Buddha into winter attire. The tradition of changing the robes seasonally; Rainy, Winter, and Summer, held at the Temple of Emerald Buddha….

There is quite a lot to think about in this event. First, why did he and his huge entourage decamp to Europe just a little more than a week ago, to return for just day? Was he trying to be out of the country when the Constitutional Court was promoting absolutism? Or is he just being his usual erratic and dull self? Second, why is the royal family unmasked, especially when they have been in Germany, where the virus is raging. Third, who pays for these expensive jaunts to and from Europe? Finally, why do royalists continue to turn out and support a king who has made it clear he’d rather not be in Thailand? The latter question sent us to poets, with apologies to Thomas Ford:

There is a king erratic and (un)kind,

Was never a face so pleased my mind;

I did but see him passing by. And yet I’ll love him till I die. His gesture, motion, and his grimaces,

His lack of wit, but his voice my heart beguiles,

Beguiles my heart, I know not why,

Yet, I will love him till I die.





20 lese majeste cases

18 06 2021

At one time it was Thaksin Shinawatra who was the military and royalists considered the devil and faced the most lese majeste charges. We think that he faced somewhere between four and six charges and several more accusations and investigations.

The record for lese majeste charges is, as Prachatai reports, now held by Parit Chiwarak or Penguin. He is “now facing 20 counts under the lèse majesté law, after complaints were filed against him for Facebook posts he made about King Vajiralongkorn’s divorce from his ex-wife Sujarinee Vivacharawongse [Yuvadhida Suratsawadee], and the use of Sanam Luang for funerals.”

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) are the source for information on the new charges. They report that “Parit went to the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD) on Tuesday (15 June) to hear the charges…”.

These charges resulted from complaints by “Nopadol Prompasit, a member of the Thailand Help Center for Cyberbullying Victims, an online royalist group whose members have filed numerous lèse majesté charges against many netizens…”.

Readers will recall that it was only a few days ago that the same group of royalist, right-wing, fascists showed up at the very same TCSD more charges against those they claimed  violated lese majeste and computer crime laws. AT the time, police said Nangnoi Assawakittikorn and her royalist minions were  calling for charges against another 90 individuals. The new report adds that these 90 all made posts that they claim insulted Queen Suthida on her recent birthday.

Prince, Yuvadhida, and kids in earlier times

The complaints against Parit, however, “were filed on 11 January 2021 and are related to two Facebook posts he made in December 2020. The first was on 8 December 2020 about King Vajiralongkorn’s divorce from his ex-wife Sujarinee Vivacharawongse, who now lives in the United States in exile with her four sons.”

He also stands accused of “called for Princess Sirivannavari, the King’s younger daughter, not to use taxpayer’s money to promote her fashion brand…”. She’s not covered by Article 112. However, it is also alleged that Parit “included in the post a link to a voice clip rumoured to be that of the king saying ‘I know I’m bad’.” We guess if he’s convicted on that, then the rumor is proven.

In another post on 31 December 2020 it is alleged he “mentioned how funerals are allowed to be held at Sanam Luang but people are not allowed to sell shrimp, referring to the shrimp sale organized by the volunteer protest guard group We Volunteer on 31 December 2020 which was dispersed by police.”

In addition to the 20 lese majeste charges Parit now faces, he also has outstanding charges under the Computer Crimes Act, sedition, and more.

In these two most recent cases, Parit denied all charges. Startlingly, he reportedly “requested that Sujarinee and her sons be brought in as witnesses and to have them testify on why they had to leave the country, who is involved in their exile, and whether they wish to return to Thailand.” That may result in more charges.





Updated: Blind 112 complaint

11 06 2021

Longtime readers of PPT might remember a lese majeste case from 2016, where Nurhayati Masoh, a then 23 year-old unemployed Thai-Malay Muslim from Yala who was convicted on 4 January 2018 and sentenced to three years in jail.

At the time, we commented that, under the military dictatorship, lese majeste cases had become increasing bizarre and cruel. Students, journalists, academics, workers, red shirts and many more have been charged and sentenced. In recent months this purge has included juveniles and the aged. 112 logo

Nurhayati ‘s case marked another sad milestone in that she is blind. Worse still, she had been reported by Pipathanachai Srakawee, President of the Thailand Association of the Blind and a fervent royalist. Not only did he lodge his complaint, but he repeatedly and obsessively pursued senior officials, police and prosecutors to ensure that she was charged, tried and convicted. She was eventually sentenced to one year in jail for violating the Computer Crime Act.

As Prachatai reports, Pipathanachai (now Phatanachai) and still President of the Association is back, “protecting” the monarchy. In this case, the king’s fourth wife Queen Suthida.

Phatanachai told the Thungmahamek Police in Bangkok to report “an allegedly lèse majesté comment posted by someone older who also has a visibility impairment.” Prachatai reports:

Khumklao Songsomboon of Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), the lawyer in the new case, said on 9 June that the police summons had been delayed until 25 June because the notice was too short and the suspect was a blind person in another province.

Khumklao said that he could not reveal any details without the permission of the suspect. Prachatai is trying to reach the person for more detail.

All Khumklao could say was that TLHR received a request for help from a blind person. And apart delaying the police summons, he was preparing a bail request in case of detention.

The evil Phatanachai “told Prachatai that the suspect was his senior when he was studying in a school in Surat Thani.” He claimed to have been motivated to snitch “because in 2020 the suspect shared a comment critical of Queen Suthida in a post by Nipit Intarasombat, a former MP of the Democrat Party.”

Remarkably this royalist snitch went on to “explain” his perspective on Article 112:

He thought that criticism of the monarchy, including calls for monarchy reform, was okay, but it should also have boundaries. He agreed that 3-15 years in jail was long, but the jail term should be reduced in proportion to the criticism of the monarchy – that is it should be based on reasons, facts, and politeness.

Making the regime’s and palace’s point for them, he added that 112 “has no effect to people who keep quiet…”.

Presumably he also thinks that snitching and vigilantism is rewarded.

Update: Prachatai has a lengthy article that reflects more on Phatanachai’s perculiar perspective on lese majeste. In it he claims “he is not keeping track of this complaint” as he did in the previous case he instigated. He also compares prison for the blind as being “just the same as boarding school…”.





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.








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