Not standing

16 09 2020

Thisrupt has a commentary on the recent furore over not standing in cinemas for the royal anthem, with royalists upset.

As PPT hasn’t been to a cinema for a while, we were a little surprised to learn that “[t]here’s an on-going trend of movie-goers not standing for the royal anthem.” It adds:

Perhaps a few people choose to remain seated. Maybe half the theater. Many movie-goers can tell, these days, it’s common for people to stay seated.

The commentary then gets a little befuddled, stating:

During the reign of King Rama 9, it was unimaginable. Back then, some might stood up sincerely from their heart. Some might have done it out of the social convention. Some might have done it for fear of chastisement. But in general, everyone stood up.

This is wrong and also falls into a trap seen even among some anti-monarchy critics that views the dead king with a kind of longing that obscures to many facts.

It might be true that it was the military dictator Gen Sarit Thanarat who introduced the practice as he sought to gain legitimacy for himself and the monarchy. However, PPT recalls a time in the early 1970s, when many cinema patrons would flee the theater when the credits came on at the end of the film as the anthem was played at the end of the screening.

We can’t recall when this changed to the anthem at the beginning of screenings, but the idea was to force “respect.” But that didn’t work either. There were many who chose seats at the back of the cinema so that they could remain seated. Others waited in the foyer and came into the theater after the anthem finished.

Even at concerts in the mid-2000s, it was not unusual to attend a concert and see the hall empty. It would immediately fill after the anthem.

And, we should not forget the case of political activist Chotisak Onsoong, who with a friend, were accused by police in April 2008 of insulting the monarchy for refusing to stand during the royal anthem and who was forced into exile for some years before the case was dropped.

The Thisrupt story does observe that: “These days, not only are people not standing up, some even post about it on Facebook.” A recent altercation over not standing saw one Facebook post get “over 52,000 shares and over 19,000 comments.”





Rampant re-feudalization

22 01 2020

The effort to re-feudalize contemporary Thailand has been gathering pace since the 2014 military coup and since King Vajiralongkorn ceremonially took the throne.

The most recent effort to move backwards “students at public schools operated by the City Hall must line up and sing the Royal Anthem in unison every morning per order from [junta-appointed] Bangkok Governor [Pol Gen] Aswin Kwanmuang.”

Indoctrinating the young (from Chiang Rai Times)

Aswin claimed his royalist imposition was because “he wanted to promote loyalty to the monarchy…. Singing the Royal Anthem is just an idea to promote … love and faith in the nation, religions, and the monarch, who are the crucial foundations of Thainess…”.

The report claims that “Thai schools typically require students to sing the National Anthem every morning,” which is well known, and adds that the Royal Anthem “… is played less frequently. In many schools, the Royal Anthem is sung only once a week, at the end of class on Friday.” Even that is a relatively recent royalist innovation.

Aswin now demands that the royal anthem must be sung after the national anthem every day.

The royal anthem was the national anthem until the 1932 revolution. So Gen Aswin’s order is yet another rolling back of 1932.

One of the military junta’s first steps after the coup was to tighten the thought control in schools. That involved both militarism and monarchism.





Where will it stop?

7 07 2009

The accusations of disrespecting or insulting the monarchy have been an established part of the reactionary arsenal of Thai politics for several decades. In recent years, all of the major contending political elements claim to have been supporting or protecting the monarchy while opponents are accused of damaging the monarchy.

Since the 2006 palace-backed military coup, and especially following the advent of the Democrat Party-led government in December 2008, as PPT has been pointing out, the charges of lesè majesté have been highly political in their application.

With the victories of the pro-Thaksin Peua Thai Party in by-elections over the past few weeks, and with the UDD trying to get a million signatures to petition for a royal pardon for Thaksin Shinawatra, lesè majesté allegations are flowing thick and fast.

To be honest, PPT is having trouble keeping up with them all. In the past few weeks, we can count newspaper reports of allegations against some 40 persons, including a number of foreign journalists.

Now a reader of the Bangkok Post (7 July 2009: “American Embassy plays the wrong tune”) in a letter to the editor signed by “Shocked Thai Citizen” points an accusing finger at the US Ambassador and his Embassy.

STC claims to have attended a 2 July celebration at the Grand Hyatt Erawan in advance of July 4th celebrations. As well as feeling that the ambassador’s speech was “lengthy and … condescending” for its mention of “regrettable violence and political incidents which occurred in Thailand last year and the true merits of American-style democracy,” STC reports shock at what happened next. STC says that “many guests were astounded to hear the Thai National Anthem, instead of the Royal Anthem, being played by the band before the toasts.”

PPT is ignorant of such matters, but would have guessed that the National Anthem was appropriate, but we ask readers’ more knowledgeable to email us on this protocol issue while we wait for the US Embassy’s response in the Post. The US Navy Band’s website states: “If there is an occasion where the National Anthem of Thailand is required, contact liaison or protocol officer before the ceremony to determine which version is appropriate.”

One website has it that: “Thailand is one of a few monarchies (like Denmark and Sweden) that have a separate anthem for the royal family, as opposed to the national anthem for the citizens. The Thai royal anthem is performed during state occasions and public meetings, as well as when a high-ranking member of the royal family is present for a function. The same site (www.nationalanthems.info/th.htm) adds that: “Following the military coup in Thailand in late 2006, there was an initial move to downgrade ‘Phleng Chat’ [the national anthem] to the status of a ‘national song’, making [the royal anthem] the sole national anthem. However, there was public outcry against this and the move was scrapped.”

Back to STC, who goes on to indicate why s/he is shocked: “The Thai National Anthem was composed by the People’s Party after the coup to abolish absolute monarchy in 1932 and is now usually played during the daily flag raising and lowering ceremony at government buildings and schools.” STC seems to imply that there has been an attempt to replace this anthem because of its link to 1932.

Then STC accuses the US Embassy of more than a breach of protocol: “One cannot imagine that this was an unintentional mistake…”. STC continues: “Surely the US Embassy knows that at present there are serious threats to our internal security. For instance, there is a movement initiated by the Red Shirts to demand that the Thai National Day be changed from Dec 5, the birthday of HM the King, to June 24, the day of the coup in 1932.” Finally, STC proudly proclaims: “We, therefore, condemn the action by the US Embassy as demeaning to the people of the Kingdom of Thailand, who revere their Monarch.”

Is it that royalists are so worried for the future of the monarchy that they must protect it from the country with the longest diplomatic relationship of any country in the West? Is Thailand’s closest ally from World War 2 to the present day now an enemy of the monarchy? Hardly, but the more manic royalists are clearly beside themselves with worry and anger that they may be losing the 77 year-long battle to regain their political position.