Royalist ridiculousness

24 07 2015

A few days ago we noted that when there is drought, the palace and military propaganda machine cranks up, emphasizing hierarchy.

The other thing that happens is that the sometimes cockeyed ideas of the king are recycled. One is the use of cloud-seeding, which is generally considered scientifically dubious. Yet in Thailand, because the technology has the king’s name attached to it, taxpayers’ money is poured into the effort every time there is a drought. They’ve been at it again during this dry season.

The other idea that the military promotes is the sufficiency economy concept, first called the “new theory” some years ago. Royalist posterior polishers also get into the act, even if the notion of sufficiency is foreign to their class. Even for its alleged founder, the call for sufficiency economy is an act of political and economic hypocrisy.

For PPT, this is essentially a fact as the sufficiency economy is a rhetorical device that demands loyalty to the monarchy. This is one of the reasons it is wheeled out in times of stress or of political instability. Yet an article in The Nation on the latest military sufficiency economy exercise is even more difficult to understand than usual. To be honest, we find it almost incomprehensible, but readers might be more knowledgeable on this nonsense than us.

We just note a couple of points. First, the idea of using swales for water diversion is hardly new or central to the “new theory.”  Farmers worldwide have used them for centuries. Second, small ponds as water catchments is a part of the “new theory,” and again they have been used by farmers forever. but the calculations used to justify them are often simplistic (look at the “calculation” of evaporation in the previous link). As well, the mandated systems require considerable resources.

The point of this story, though, is its propaganda value, and it is only a few paragraphs in that the reader learns that it is the military at work with tame “celebrities”:

The first day of the project was spent cycling, running or walking the 30 kilometres from the Special Warfare Centre’s Command School at Camp Erawan to the Command’s Sufficiency Economic Learning Centre in Lop Buri

While the story is confused and confusing, the military’s use of royalist propaganda for discipline and hierarchy is clear.

Queensland and royal technology

9 08 2010

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that a “rain-making method developed by Thai king Bhumipol Adulyadej is set to aid Queensland in battles with drought after an agreement between the state government and the Thai royal household.” PPT realizes that Queensland has a long history of odd thinking on a range matters. Sorry Queenslanders, but look back at the long tenure of Joh Bjelke Petersen…. For Joh lovers, read no further.

Apparently the Queensland government approached the royal household last year. The report says, neglecting recent collapse of the “technology” in Tanzania due to enormous costs, erroneously states that “Queensland is set to be the first major region outside Thailand where the rain-making technology will be put into full effect.”

Soothiporn Jitmittraparp, secretary general of the National Research Council of Thailand, is reported to have claimed that “similarities in topography in Thailand and Queensland would be beneficial to the success of the project.” He’s just trying desperately to get some other place to sign up to the technology so that the huge investment in Thailand can get some external “support.”

The report makes this statement: “In Thailand, the cloud-seeding method has been applied in the largely drought-affected north-east of the country as well as boosting water volume in dams and reservoirs and aiding reforestation programs.” PPT would love to see independent verification of such claims. As far as we know, there are none.

Then it adds “technique was recognised in 2005 and covered by patents in 30 European countries.” As PPT has previously noted, the important thing about the patent is to actually read it.  For readers interested in this rain-making patent, begin here and look at the patent no. EP1491088 here. To be honest, the patent application makes pitiful reading. Patents do not necessarily constitute evidence of a scientific breakthrough and tehre are plenty of crazy patents.

Cloud-seeding has been around for years and reputable scientific organizations have assessed it over the decades. Google results for Australia’s CSIRO, for example, and decide if there is any merit to cloud-seeding.

PPT can’t understand why the Queensland government would consult Thai rainmakers when the CSIRO has decades of experience.

Art for royals

23 08 2009

Art and politics always seem to mix in interesting but often suffocating ways.

After years of delay, the opening of the ambitious metropolitan art centre, called the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC), at the Pathumwan intersection just across from Paragon/Discovery Centre and MBK, finally had its official opening in August 2009 (it had reportedly opened for business about a year earlier). It is reported to have cost almost 500 million baht. Even before that opening, it hit the headlines with a dispute over control.

The dispute erupted when the Network of Artists for the BACC and the Bangkok Theatre Network said that they would not co-operate with the centre because of the tight control exercised by the Bangkok Metropolitan Authority (BMA) . One artist threatened to withdraw an international art festival from the Centre’s program. The artists complained that the BMA “had turned a deaf ear to the artists’ demand that the centre be run by an independent foundation, not the BMA’s culture, sports and tourism office, which tended to impose command over artists. Besides, bureaucratic red-tape has resulted in a delay in reimbursement for the artists had advanced money for the BACC’s exhibitions last year.” The artists, disillusioned with politicians and city officials, called for transparency and public participation. Bangkok’s Democrat Party Governor Sukhumbhand Paripatra negotiated with some of the artists, apparently agreeing that the BMA would allow an independent foundation to take over BACC management.

At the time, PPT didn’t take much notice, but saw that the artists’ protest came just as the BACC planned the official opening to be presided over by the queen.

We also saw that the inaugural exhibition included photographs by Princess Sirindhorn entitled “Always Roaming with a Hungry Heart.” The title was nicked from a line in Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s famous poem “Ulysses.” Royal acolyte Thapana Sirivadhanabhakdi, “acting president of the Royal Photographic Society of Thailand under the Royal Patronage of HM the King,” claimed that the title of the princess’s exhibit, reflected “the idea and the way the princess sees the world. She sees with a curiosity and thirst for knowledge…”. The photos were of no great worth as art, but royals do occupy a particular place in opening things and are promoted as artistic, even if the work they produce is rather ordinary and sometimes banal.

PPT has no idea if the BMA handed over to the artists. What is clear, though, is that the royalist suffocation of art in Thailand is continuing and expanding as political conflict involving the monarchy becomes more intense. Propaganda might well trump art (or some of it).

The latest exhibition, also said to be an “inaugural exhibition” – how many can there be? – is reported in The Nation (23 August 2009: “Portraits of our Parents”) is a “tribute to the Queen.” She attended for her birthday celebrations, with the Nation’s journalist gushing that this was “a grand public appearance.” Apparently, the exhibition “Virtues of the Kingdom” occupies all nine floors of the Centre’s display space, with ” three areas dedicated to His Majesty the King’s untiring work for the country and the Queen’s devotion to art and culture.” The images of the king are shown in the “The King’s Portrait: The Art of Iconography” which, not by chance, is on the ninth floor. The art displayed is often hackneyed in theme: the king as a young prince,  royal rain-making, “sufficiency,” traditional motifs, royal anthem, Klaikangwol Palace and “rare” photographs of royal travels abroad.

PPT  realizes that public space is continuing to be suffocated by royalism but this continuing but ultimately doomed attempt to control art and to determine public perceptions of the royals and their startling talents feels that art is being brought to political purpose in support of state ideology. This is not unusual and various governments and political regimes – fascist, statist and others – have attempted to have artworks glorify the state, its leaders and its activities. Such air is often difficult to breathe.

Come together or we are all ruined

22 08 2009

As usual when there is political conflict in Thailand, the king has called for unity. The Bangkok Post (22 August 2009: “King: Lack of unity ruining the nation”) and the Wall Street Journal has a story (22 August 2009: “Thailand’s King Calls for Unity”). For Thai-language readers, see Prachatai (22 August 2009: “ในหลวง” รับสั่ง บ้านเมืองจะล่มจมถ้าทุกคนต่างคนต่างทำ แต่ถ้าทุกคนร่วมมือกัน บ้านเมืองเจริญก้าวหน้าได้).

The king’s main point seemed to be this: “Right now it can be said that our country is going towards ruin, (it) is moving without direction. I’m worried that Thailand is falling into ruin, but you people could still save it from sinking further…” . Thailand’s “ruin” was attributed “to a lack of cooperation among different sectors of society.”

The WSJ chose to interpret this as “Thailand’s widely respected king [having] made a rare foray into the country’s long-running political problems, warning that Thailand could become increasingly unstable if its feuding politicians fail to unite…”.

Some might argue that he has made several forays into the political fray and that this is one of the root causes of political instability in Thailand. Others might suggest that, as a constitutional monarch, the should be advised to keep his public mouth firmly shut.

In Thailand, of course, his words will be interpreted in a variety of ways, as they usually are. However, following the petition and the instability in the elite’s preferred and manufactured government, and following the queen’s recent political actions, the king is making his displeasure known.

As a footnote, the king’s warning of national collapse came as “Anont Bunyarattavej, secretary-general of the National Research Council of Thailand, presented to him the patents for the King’s artificial rain-making technology issued by 10 European Union countries and Hong Kong.” For readers interested in this rain-making patent, begin here and look at the patent no. EP1491088 here.

Cloud-seeding has been around for years and reputable scientific organizations have assessed it over the decades. Google results for Australia’s CSIRO for example and decide if there is any merit to cloud-seeding. Patents do not necessarily constitute evidence of a scientific breakthrough and tehre are plenty of crazy patents.

Update: See the post on the speech and its interpretation at Bangkok Pundit.

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