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.





Legal repression

10 12 2020

A uniformed King Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida were present for the dedication ceremony “to open a new Supreme Court Office in Bangkok’s Phra Nakhon district on Monday.” The link between the palace and the judiciary is remarkably feudal.

Since 2006, when the dead king activated the judiciary into public judicial activism, the courts have been loyal allies of coup-makers, generals and the right and royalists. and has been significant in political repression and ensuring Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha’s regime remained in office.

Since student-led protesters rose again in July, the judicial system has been the regime’s principal institution in repressing the protesters.

Keeping up with the avalanche of charges against protesters is difficult indeed. One summary, at Prachatai, is from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights and they:

reported the case statistics from the first protest on 18 July to the night of 7 December. In the past 4 months and 20 days, 220 people have faced 119 charges. Most are related to unannounced protests under the Public Assembly Act.

149 people have been charged with violations of the emergency decree, and 18 charges are related to the withdrawn severe state of emergency. There are also 56 people who were arrested on the spot during the 16 October crackdown.

Among all those charged, 5 are under the age of 18 who face 7 charges. The lowest age is 16. The sedition law has been used against a 17-year-old youth.

24 people have been charged under Section 112 of the Criminal Code (the lèse majesté law), 53 under Section 116 (the sedition law), and 5 under Section 110 (violating the Queen’s liberty).

Now that lese majeste is back in a big way, protesters and commentators are again targeting the law for abolition and/or revision.





On a few things royal I

5 12 2020

There are a number of royal “stories” that caught our attention today.

The first was a gaggle of stories about the dead king. Of course, 5 December – the dead king’s birthday – was made especially important by palace propaganda and before he became ill, on his birthday eve, the palace would round up the great and the good and the captive audience would sit through the king’s often incoherent ramblings. It would be left to the media to try and interpret the meaning of these sometimes long homilies.

The Bangkok Post outdid most other media that we looked at, with four lengthy propaganda pieces. One was a PR piece about the Bangkok arm of the former junta, the BMA, recalling that the day is also father’s day. That came about after an order from military dictator and double coup leader Sarit Thanarat who made the king’s birthday National Day in 1960. Then there are almost obligatory stories on the late king’s interventions in the nation’s water policy, including his backing of huge dams, sufficiency economy, reproducing all the usual blarney from the world’s richest monarchy, and education, in a country with what is now an awful education system, so bad that its students have revolted.

The passed king is said to have “spent decades trying to combat the twin crises besetting Thailand: droughts and floods,” yet these problems persist and plague the nation every year. Chalearmkiat Kongvichienwat, a deputy director-general for engineering with the Royal Irrigation Department describes the late king as “a great hydrological engineer.” We should recall that the king only had a high school diploma and that his “reputation” as an “engineer” was manufactured by palace propaganda and RID, which gained huge amounts of cash for its projects.

RID observes:

… there are 3,481 royal water projects in which the department is involved. Among them, 3,206 projects are already complete.

They comprise 1,277 projects in the North, 758 in the northeastern region, 498 in the Central region and 673 in the South. These royal projects when completed will provide water to 589,000 households living on 4.90 million rai. The projects can store a total of 6.771 billion cubic metres of water.

Some 87 of the 275 remaining projects are expected to be completed by 2024 and 188 are in the pipeline.

That’s a lot of money. We wonder how many continue to operate and at what cost to environment, locals and taxpayer. The propaganda value for the king and palace was inestimable.

There’s no mention of the dead king’s support for dictators, coups, or the military.

A second story line that is appropriate for today is from Bloomberg at The Japan Times. It is focused on royal wealth: “Thailand’s taboo-breaking demonstrations are about more than the right to criticize the monarchy without fear of going to prison: Protesters want taxpayers to control investments and real estate worth tens of billions of dollars.” It has some of the existing information, but there is some additional information.

On the current king’s PR efforts, a third story line caught our attention. As is usual, there are royal pardons and sentences are cut for thousands of inmates. Also usual is the handing out of bags of charity goods to victims of natural disasters, said to be from the king, and usually accompanied by royal portraits. In this case, it was flood victims in the south. The Army claims that “[m]ore than 300,000 households in 90 districts in 11 southern provinces have been affected by flooding…”. The king “donated 10,000 relief bags to flood victims in the southern province of Nakhon Si Thammarat, where at least 13 people have died in recent flooding.” Clearly, a symbolic effort by the world’s richest king.

Then we saw, at The Nation, a series of photos about a recent royal outing-cum-PR exercise. It has the king and queen, accompanied by Princess Bajrakitiyabha Narendira Debyavati, the Princess Rajasarinisiribajra and Chao Khun Phra Sineenat Bilaskalayani,” attending a religious event for the dead king “at the Royal Plaza in front of Dusit Palace…”. Given all the recent social media attention and some news reports of rifts in the palace, between queen and consort and between princess and consort, we wondered if they didn’t look rather happy together in this photo, suggesting that some of the speculation might be overcooked:

Happy family outing? Clipped from The Nation

Finally, we want to suggest that readers might want to watch a BBC video story about the students and their revolt against the monarchy.





Updated: Palace PR at full throttle III

23 11 2020

It may be that the current palace PR effort is about to be undone (again).

Royal critics Pavin Chachavalpongpun and Andrew McGregor Marshall have both has posted pictures they he says are from phones that once belonged to Consort Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi. Andrew McGregor Marshall has confirmed the existence of the photos. Many of the hundreds of photos are said to show her naked. Both imply that that the leaking of the photos is a part of a continuing conflict between Queen Suthida and Sineenat.

In the past, the leak of naked photos of the crown prince’s/king’s women have indicated some kind of “partner crisis.” The king has displayed a penchant for erotic images of his women and PPT has previously seen photos of former wives Yuvadhida Polpraserth and Srirasmi and of current queen Suthida. Of course, the video of a naked Srirasmi has been widely circulated.

Pavin and Marshall, who don’t always see eye-to-eye, have begun leakeding some of the tamer photos this information with the latter claiming he’s had them for some time and initially decided not to make them public on moral and ethical grounds. It seems that several news outlets also have the photos, so it may be that they racier photos will come out sooner rather than later.

Meanwhile, Marshall has posted links to German news media suggesting that the king’s troubles there are not over. One is an Ardmediathek video report and the other is a 2DF video report. Interestingly, Deutsche Welle reports that “Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn may be expelled from Germany if he issues decrees from his Bavarian villa, the Bundestag has said.” The report clarifies that the king has diplomatic immunity when he is in Germany, meaning that the “German state has very little power to prosecute the Thai king, despite recent threats by Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.” Rather, Germany would need to expel “the king from Germany as a ‘persona non grata’…”.





With a major update: Palace PR at full throttle II

22 11 2020

One of hundreds of pieces of graffiti attacking the king and royal family

As we said in an earlier post, the palace public relations machinery has long had to “manage” Vajiralongkorn’s mostly self-inflicted PR disasters, ranging from his erratic and vengeful behavior to rumors of violence, illnesses, philandering and associations with crime. These PR exercises have mostly involved strategies that had “worked” for his father.

King, queen and ultra-royalist

However, as popular criticism of the monarchy has reached levels that no one can recall in their lifetimes, what we have called the Hello! strategy has emerged, mostly revolving around the women currently closest to King Vajiralongkorn: Queen Suthida, Princess Sirivannavari, and chief concubine Sineenat.

The king is now almost always seen arm-in-arm with Suthida, as she guides her often shaky looking husband around crowds of royalist well-wishers, encouraging the “common” touch of selfies, autographs and statements of encouragement to selected ultra-royalists. The queen is seen as the one recognizing the ultra-royalists,  beaming and fist-pumping to supporters, and directing the king to them.

Sirivannavari as “one of us”

Meanwhile, Sirivannavari is high profile, fostering a kind of “people’s princess” image, seeking to link to younger people. This effort has not always been successful. Protesters know that Sirivannavari has been officially promoted and the recipient of “award” just because she’s the king’s daughter. And, protesters know that she’s cycled through a series of expensive “career choices” that have cost the taxpayer plenty. We recall she was the top student at university, a national badminton player, a diplomat, a Paris fashion designer, etc. That knowledge has led to the princess being spoofed by protesters.

Clipped from LA Times. Photo credit: Jack Taylor AFP / Getty Images

Sineenat has sometimes been seen making up the royal triplet in public, but has recently been off in the countryside, also cultivating a “people’s” semi-royal persona. Yet her troubled, on-again, off-again relationship with the king is well known and rumors of her role in palace and royal family tensions are also widespread.

The general idea seems to be to show that the palace is not really aloof, hugely wealthy, grasping, erratic and uncaring, but is really at one with the people. This is a strategy that carries high risk. After all, making the monarchy “popular” challenges the most basic premise of royals as special, divine, blue-bloods. It is blood and position that counts, not popularity.

But when a royal house is challenged, it is often a spur to make the royals “popular.” And the challenges are coming thick and fast.So strong is the anti-monarchism that even the Hello! strategy is having to be surpassed with publicity that shows the grasping king as “generous.”

In the most high profile PR effort to date, the Bangkok Post reports that the king will “give royal land title deeds worth ’10 billion baht’ to four educational institutes in a handover ceremony.” (That the Post puts the figure in quotation marks suggests a need for caution.)

Our first thought was that this declaration is a response to pro-democracy demonstrators having announced that their next rally will be outside the Crown Property Bureau on 25 November. The palace is trying to pre-empt that demonstration by showing that the king and CPB are “generous.”

Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation Minister Anek Laothamatas reportedly said:

… ownership of royal title deeds covering more than 100 rai of land along Ratchawithi Road in Dusit district would be handed over to two universities and two schools [Rachawinit elementary school and its secondary school] already located on the land…. Suan Sunandha Rajabhat University will receive title deeds covering more than 60 rai, while Suan Dusit University will be granted more than 37 rai, Mr Anek said, adding that the value of the land was estimated at about 10 billion baht.

That statement is not at all clear. Is there a difference between “ownership of a royal title deed” and ownership of land? How much is “more than”?

We recall that, in 2018, there were reports that these universities had been told that they would need to relocate. The CPB kind of confirmed this.

The Post claims, seeming to cite Anek, that the “land where the universities are located originally belonged to the King and the land is part of Dusit Palace, which is a complex of royal residences.” This means prior to 1932 for it was after that revolution that the new regime used (took over?) some of the land “for educational purposes…”. As Wikipedia has it: “In 1932 the absolute monarchy was abolished and part of the Dusit Palace was reduced and transferred to the constitutional government. This included the Khao Din Wana (เขาดินวนา) to the east of the palace, which was given in 1938 to the Bangkok City Municipality by King Ananda Mahidol to create a public park, which later became Dusit Zoo.”

It seems that the current king is the one who has had this land “returned” to him.

The zoo comes into the Post story: “Apart from the handover of the deeds, the royally-owned land where Dusit Zoo, the country’s first public zoo, was once located will be used for the construction of a public hospital.” It seems to us that this is a recent decision designed to reduce the criticism of the palace’s grasping. Add to that the “Nang Loeng racecourse in Dusit district [which did belong] to the Crown Property Bureau (CPB) … is now to be “transform[ed] … into a public park in commemoration of … King Bhumibol…”. Yes, another one. As far as we can tell, this is another new idea.

Clearly the ideological war is expanding.

Update: The Nation has a listing of the “grants”, saying the king “granted nine land title deeds to government agencies and educational institutions.” Hopefully there’s someone out there who knows more about this than PPT, but the PR on this story seems to overwhelm what seems to have been going on. And we are not sure we know, but we smell fish.

The report states that the “King and Queen arrived at Amporn Sathan Throne in Dusit Palace to hand over land title deeds of royal properties in Bangkok and other provinces to use as government workplaces and educational establishments.” That doesn’t quite sound like the land is changing ownership.

When one looks at the properties involved, it gets fishier still. There are plots of land that have long been occupied and used by government bodies, the military and the Border Patrol Police. Take the latter as an example. The report states:

Commissioner of the Royal Thai Police, Pol General Suwat Jangyodsuk, received a land title deed for an area of 185 rai, 1 ngan and 85.20 square wah, in Cha-am district of Phetchaburi province for use as a working place for Naresuan Camp Border Patrol Police headquarters.

Commander of the Border Patrol Police, Pol Lt-General Wichit Paksa, received a land title deed for an area of 275 rai, 3 ngan and 57.20 square wah in Cha-am district of Phetchaburi province to use for Border Patrol Police headquarters, Rama VI Camp (Maruekhathaiyawan Palace) in Phetchaburi, which was in addition to the land bestowed in 2017.

As far as we know, the BPP has been occupying and using these plots of land since the early and mid 1950s. It isn’t clear to us who owned the land back then, but one source states:

Before building Naresuan camp in Hua Hin, the camp site had been allocated to the army’s royal guard to provide security to the royal family but as soon as [the CIA’s] Bill Lair proposed the site for building a camp for PARU, both Phao and the royal family agreed to give the land to Lair and PARU instead of the army.

Lair and the king. Clipped from Amazon

That seems to suggest that the land might have once belonged to the royal family. It remains unclear to us whether there was any official transfer back then. Another source states that Lair “used an old Imperial Japanese training camp in Hua Hin to train a select crew of Thai police in guerrilla warfare, including parachuting.” It is clear that the king developed quite a jolly relationship with the PARU/BPP and with Lair.

So it seems like the king is acknowledging longstanding occupation and use, if not “ownership.” It remains unclear if receiving the title deed amounts to transferring ownership.





Updated: Thailand’s Skyfall

15 11 2020

We might say that the earth moved but, in fact, in Thai terms, the sky fell. Nikkei Asia has the headline: Thailand’s young protesters turn backs on royal motorcade.

RT has it that:

Protesters in Bangkok have shown their disrespect to the Thai King by turning their backs on a royal motorcade as it passed by. People have been rallying for months, demanding the resignation of the PM and reform of monarchy.

Reuters reports:

As the motorcade carrying the king and Queen Suthida passed by they turned their backs, gave the three-fingered “Hunger Games” salute of pro-democracy campaigners, and sang the national anthem in the latest show of disaffection with the monarchy.

For video, see here:

RT and Reuters reckon there were some 2,500 demonstrators at the Democracy Monument when the motorcade sped past, but numbers grew substantially later in the evening.

This is a big deal.

Such an open display of disrespect will draw yellow shirt and official responses.

The demonstration continued, promoting various causes, with some using “ladders to cover the three-meter-tall centerpiece of the monument with a massive white cloth, that featured various insults and slogans accusing the country’s rulers of stealing the people’s ‘bright future’ and assuring that ‘democracy will prevail’.”

Clipped from Thai PBS

The Reuters story has a clip which includes the motorcade and very direct comments from Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul including on the power of the people, sovereignty being with the people rather than “one person,” and this: “Without the people, the government and monarchy will have no power…”.

At the same time, she offered the regime something of an opportunity: “Are they willing to take a step back or find a consensus that we can agree on?”

The Bangkok Post reports that

The charter was the main focus of their [protesters] attention, as Parliament is scheduled to debate amendments on Tuesday and Wednesday….

The three groups — Bad Students, Free Women and Mob Fest — are all allied with the Free Youth group, which marked its first anniversary on Saturday.

Bad Students, [are] mostly high schoolers….

Quite a day.

Update: Another video of the back turning, from Prachatai: