Sharing Pavin 112

26 09 2022

On 26 September 2022, Absorn (pseudonym), 23, employed at a private company, was sentenced by the Criminal Court to 4 years in prison on lese majeste, computer crimes.

The court decided that as she had never been previously been sentenced to prison, her sentence was reduced to 2 years and suspended for 3 years. She will be on probation for 2 years.

Absorn, a trans woman, was charged on a complaint made by the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society after she shared a Facebook post by academic Pavin Chachavalpongpun. The exiled Pavin argued that the campaign was “outdated” and:

claimed that the … royal family launched a public relations campaign in order to compete with pro-democracy protesters, such as by having Princess Sirivannavari, King Vajiralongkorn’s youngest daughter, join a dance event, or reporting that Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi, the [then] King’s royal consort, supported a Royal Project by buying products from the Sai Jai Thai Foundation.

Absorn shared the post and without adding anything to it.

She was charged in November 2020. The public prosecutor prosecuted her “on the grounds that the post contain false information and may mislead the public into thinking that the King is an enemy of the people and tries to interfere with politics. The prosecutor also said that the post was rude and intended to cause hatred against the King.”

Of course, facts about the royal family are disputed, but never by the royalist courts. At the time, it was clear that the royal family mobilized to push back against reform calls.

Absorn said the “post was shared onto her old Facebook account which she no longer used. She also immediately took the post down after a coworker warned her it might be illegal.”





Further updated: Missing royals

19 09 2022

Social media is buzzing about Thailand’s royals. This time, the buzz is about the fact that no Thai royal has shown up for the funeral of Britain’s dead queen.

The Nation reports : “Leaders and royalty from all over the world have gathered in London to mourn Queen Elizabeth while millions will watch on television…”.

Siblings: Vajiralongkorn and Sirindhorn

The Bangkok Post reports that “Britain, world leaders and royalty from across the globe will on Monday bid a final farewell to Queen Elizabeth…”.

That no Thai royal has attended is not mentioned. But social media noticed. After all, representatives had participated in previous royal events in Britain.

Royalists trumpeted that no invitation was issued. This would seem nonsense as the Thai ambassador took part, representing Thailand. Anti-royalists wonder if Vajiralongkorn’s antics ruled him out. But this seems unlikely as he’s participated previously.

So it seems that the Thai royals chose not to attend. Odd indeed.

Update 1: The state funeral for Elizabeth took place on Monday morning at Westminster Abbey, attended by Joe Biden, Emmanuel Macron and around 500 other foreign dignitaries.

Update 2: It is now confirmed that Vajiralongkorn and his missus were invited: https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fpravit.rojanaphruk.5%2Fposts%2Fpfbid02nETp6LDu8YwcxCnjfVJZMpfBrHABEpLvkja8XH7SnA938JUhds9Jj8CDpy1bt6d2l&show_text=true&width=500





Koi is gone

4 08 2022

Andrew MacGregor Marshall has a new Secret Siam post “Koi gone.” Marshall doesn’t answer the burning question: What has happened to Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi, known as Koi, the king’s official concubine?

She’s been gone from public view since 5 December 2021. No one is saying what has happened to her. She was there one day and then she disappeared. Her unexplained disappearance is not something usually associated with “celebrities” in the modern world. It is strange. But so is the Thai royal family.

If he can’t say what has happened to her, Marshall puts together the story of Koi as it is currently known. It will be of interest for many who follow the erratic Vajiralongkorn. Here’s some of the conclusion to Marshall’s account:

The royals finally returned to Europe in November 2021, taking over much of the airport hotel in Munich for their mandatory two weeks of coronavirus quarantine. They made day trips to Thailand on November 20 for the changing of the clothes of the Emerald Buddha, and on December 5 for the birthday of the late King Bhumibol.

The December 5 visit was the last time Koi has been seen in public. She has been missing for eight months. Here is the last image we have of her.

It remains unknown what happened during December last year between Vajiralongkorn and Koi….

The king flew back to Bangkok via Zurich on December 28 for Taksin Day, bringing [Queen] Suthida but — very unusually — not Koi, who stayed in Bavaria. He planned to stay in Thailand less than two weeks.

We are PPT don’t think it is certain that Koi remained in Bavaria.

But the plans were repeatedly changed…. Clearly there was some turbulence in the palace, with plans being changed so frequently.

Eventually, Vajiralongkorn decided he was not going to return to his pleasure palace in Bavaria for now. He has not been back to Germany since December and has not seen Koi since then.

The real reason [for Koi’s disappearance], royal sources say, is that Koi’s ambitions were causing so much conflict that Vajiralongkorn became increasingly angry and bored of the drama. Surprisingly, Suthida seems to have won the power struggle for now, with the help of Bajrakitiyabha and Sirivannavari….

On July 28 [2022], the royals gathered to mark Vajiralongkorn’s 70th birthday. It was exactly three years since he had anointed Koi his royal noble consort, but she was nowhere to be seen.

For the moment, Koi is gone.





Doing the monarchy’s propaganda II

31 07 2022

With Vajiralongkorn’s birthday companies, ministries, military and other posterior polishers sought to buff the royal ego as shiny as it would go.

The big deal for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which thinks of itself as royally-connected, is an ebook, A Legacy for All. The book is a repeat of other propaganda from the Ministry like its video “A Legacy for the People.” That effort sank without much trace, having only 700+ views at YouTube in over 10 months. The book might do better, especially as it has had heavy promotion in recent days. Both efforts target a foreign audience.

The “new” 152-page propaganda piece introduces itself:

The Department of Information, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is pleased to present you with this first ever E-book titled, “A Legacy for All,” which boasts a unique collection of articles and insights that reflect the wide range of royal initiatives and their legacy on national development. The articles are written by past and present diplomats, as well as practitioners directly involved with the implementation of royal initiatives which have been grouped under six important areas, namely, public health, sustainable development, water management, humanitarianism, foreign relations, and multiculturalism.

In fact, anyone who has repeatedly tortured themselves reading official propaganda knows that there’s not much that is “unique” about the collection of articles by former and serving diplomats, a priest, a privy councilor, and royal servants. There are chapters that regurgitate much of the constructed “legacy” of the previous king and the ideology associated with the dead royal grandmother, and so on. There’s a bit of polishing of the “legacy” of the king’s eldest daughter, suggesting she’s probably the “future” of the gene dead-end monarchy.

There are two things which stand out in the book.

First, it is evident in the book that there’s not much that can be said about Vajiralongkorn. He’s had a pretty undistinguished life and, as everyone knows, he’s not the brightest and he’s also not keen on displaying himself in the manner of his parents as they boosted the monarchy. About the best the Ministry can come up with for Vajiralongkorn is an essay on a 1992 trip to Bangladesh. The only other chapter that seeks to reflect on the current monarch is on Siam Bioscience and his alleged good deeds during the pandemic. Of course, there’s nothing on the controversy surrounding Siam Bioscience. As might be expected in a bum buffing exercise for a foreign audience, there’s no data and no questioning. The sore thumb is the brief mention of Princess Chulabhorn’s “Institute” going off and acquiring Chinese vaccine when her big brother’s company was meant to be churning out vaccine but wasn’t. The only hint at trouble is when reader’s are assured that her effort was “through an established procedure under the law,” kind of suggesting that it may not have been.

Second, reading across the essays, it is clear that the Ministry views the Thai people as a bunch of dolts incapable of thought or doing anything for themselves. Not surprisingly, the exceptions are Thai royals; each one mentioned is a polymath and magnificent in their “work.” We are not exaggerating. The impression given is that no ordinary Thai is capable of much at all, other than implementing royal advice and royal schemes. The people receive royal wisdom and those who adopt it prosper. Well, maybe not prosper, but get by.

The notion that all the people are children is not unusual in elite circles. It is also why the people repeatedly rise up to demand a say in their own country.





Empty frame lese majeste

15 07 2022

Clipped from Prachatai. Photo attributed to Ginger cat

According to Prachatai and Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, Weha Saenchonchanasuek, 37, has been charged under Article 112.

Weha was charged “after he posted about a court verdict in March that sentenced a man named Narin to 3 years in jail for placing a sticker on a public portrait of King Vajiralongkorn. The court said Narin’s act amounted to showing disrespect to the monarch, since the sticker depicted the logo of a Facebook group known for satirizing the Royal Family.”

Weha “visited the police’s cybercrime division on Monday to acknowledge and contest the charge, according to a report released by the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights.”

This is reportedly Weha’s third lese majeste charge.

The complaint was reported to have been “lodged to the police by an online group of hardline monarchy supporters.”

Weha was released after questioning without having to post bail.

He had previously been “imprisoned for nearly 100 days in a pretrial detention on previous charges of lèse majesté earlier this year, before the court granted him bail release in June.”

In his online post, “Weha reportedly wrote sarcastic remarks about the verdict, arguing that if royal pictures are considered sacred and inviolable, he would proceed to dispose of all of the portraits from public view, away from any further sticker-posting degradation.” He also “posted a photo of himself standing next to the empty frame of a King Vajiralongkorn portrait at an undisclosed location.” I t is said that it is this post that has led to the charge.





Richest of the rich

11 07 2022

There’s been plenty of attention to the Forbes rich list. That list has not put the king at the top of the list despite the fact that the king took personal control of it all a few years ago. While corporates like the Siam Commercial Bank now list the king as being its largest shareholder under his personal name, Forbes doesn’t do this.

Even so, at about the same time that Forbes came out with its list, another appeared at The Artistree, listing the top ten wealthiest royals. In this list, the Thai royal family comes in at no. 6: “The Royal Family of Thailand is estimated to be between $30 – $50 billion. There is not much information about the earnings and income of this royal family.” We think it is worth more like $60-70 billion.

Then, the Daily Star decided to recycle a range of interesting and bizarre stories regarding the king and his family, under the headline: “Crazy life of Thailand’s king with leaked vids, abducting daughter and 20 mistresses.” That story has his wealth at about $34 billion.

We are sure that all readers will be aware of the controversial items mentioned in the story and then some.

Which reminds us, where is official consort Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi? As far as we can recall, not a peep has been heard about her since at least December last year.

Of course, plenty wonder what’s going on. There are rumors. She’s jailed again, she’s dead, she’s pregnant, or she’s stuck in Germany. She is certainly banished from royal public life.

 





Silk and shaky royal power I

29 05 2022

Readers may have noticed a recent article in the Bangkok Post regarding the regime “promoting Thai silk as part of its efforts to make Thailand’s soft power conquer the world…”. That’s according to the execrable Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam who for some unexplained reason is “chair of the committee organising the 11th Celebration of Silk, Thai Silk Road to the World…”, which seems to plagiarize Chinese jargon.

Interestingly, the effort is a state-royalist effort, with a “Thai silk fair” held at the Royal Thai Navy Convention Hall in Bangkok, and meant to “honour … Queen Sirikit the Queen Mother for her dedication to the development of Thai silk and the promotion of silk products at an international level.”

Part of the “fair” is a “Big Silk Designer Contest” which “showcases Thai culture and heritage attached to Thai silk” and is meant to “attract … young Thais interested in traditional fabrics and encourages them to incorporate Thai silk into modern fashion design.” Culture Minister Itthiphol Kunplome described this as “a new area of Thailand soft power…”.

From Wikipedia

So important is this state-royalist effort that “the permanent secretaries of all 10 ministries displayed on the catwalk Thai silk collections designed and produced in recent months.” Presumably permanent secretaries don’t allocate time from presumably busy schedules unless there is some kind of incentive or directive. In this case, we presume it is the royal dimension.

In reading this “report,” we were reminded of a recent post at Fulcrum by Alexandra Dalferro: “Princess Sirivannavari’s Textile Initiative and Royal Power: Will Thai People Take the Hook?” (we suggest ignoring the sub-heading which does not appear to reflect the article). This article explains yet another state-royalist effort to promote the princess (previously promoted as a talented scholar, talented national badminton player, talented equestrian, talented entrepreneur, talented, designer, etc.). It also recounts the opposition to the “use of taxpayer money (to the tune of 13 million baht) to market her brand abroad.”

As it was under the Sirikit “brand,” the Sirivannavari “brand” is not so much about Thai “soft power,” but royal “soft power,” using buckets of taxpayer funds to promote the monarchy. For Sirivannavari, it is also an effort to make the often ridiculed princess appear more “likeable” and more popular.

The article at Fulcrum concludes:

Many producers relate that they are willing to make the pattern to earn money, but they are unwilling to wear it, explaining that it has no source. To them, the pattern has not been shared across generations and is not related to locally meaningful motifs; it exists only for civil servants to wear to fulfil their mandates. ‘They are forced to wear it because they have no freedom,’ one weaver from Northeast Thailand emphasised in a recent conversation with the author. Many Thai people are refusing the lure of the S hook by keeping it away from their bodies, a decision that is also a challenge to entrenched but now shaky royal power.





Monarchy critic gets refugee status

28 05 2022

The New Zealand Herald reports that Sinchai Chaojaroenrat, 57, an independent scholar and author “critical of the Thai monarchy has been granted refugee status on the grounds that he could face serious harm if he returned to Thailand…”.

The report also states that “despite inconsistencies in his claims,Immigration New Zealand stated that Sinchai’s “fear of being persecuted is … considered to be well founded…. There is a real chance of Dr Sinchai being persecuted if he returns to Thailand now.”

It is reported that “Sinchai believes that he was targeted by people close to the royal family and faced a risk of being kidnapped, imprisoned assassinated by the Thai authorities for his views.”

Sinchai was born in Chon Buri and “believes strongly in secularism despite being raised as a Christian. His interest in politics began at high school and he became more politically involved when he studied political science at university.”

It is claimed that by 2013, his “Facebook page and over time attracted more than 200,000 followers.” In 2019, he was a vigorous media commentator. New Zealand authorities concluded that Sinchai’s criticisms “centred on the country being undemocratic and the fact that the King’s personal conduct consumed a lot of the national budget. He also posted about the King’s sexual misconduct as he had many mistresses…”. It added that: “He also critiqued that the monarchy was treated as demi-gods and believed this was an outdated and obsolete tradition and that it was degrading to the people of Thailand to have to bow down before them.” He criticized the king’s “volunteers – the 904 program – as part of a “strategy in merging the monarchy with every government agency.”

Sinchai received multiple warnings and threats before fleeing Thailand.

But he claimed that what followed was a direct message sent on Twitter by a follower who said her father was a high ranking general in the military who had been assigned to take action against him.

This was one of several claims made by Sinchai that INZ did not accept to be credible.

The authorities concluded: “Country information unequivocally demonstrates that those who are publicly critical of the monarchy in Thailand, including on social media, can be subject to criminal charges…”.

Sinchai says “he was extremely grateful to New Zealand for letting him stay here as a refugee” and states that he feels safer. He vows to continue his criticism.





Brave and proud

15 05 2022

Prachatai states:

In a new surge of detentions, six people are in jail in connection with the royal defamation law – five of them denied bail to contest the charges outside prison. A human rights lawyer said the move illustrates the authorities’ obsession with smothering any public criticism of the monarchy.

Add to that obsession the absurdity of the Lazada stuff, where it is the royalists who identify that it is about one of The Munsters royal family they think is being portrayed and, once having outed the royal family then rushes to “protect” it.

In among all of that, we find another political prisoners on a hunger strike. Tantawan Tuatulanon is one of the brave kids bringing attention to absurd, obsessional monarchism among some. She began her hunger strike a day after she was sent to jail on 20 April. Watch this Prachatai video about her and her protests:





Updated: On graduation boycotts

29 01 2022

The Guardian has taken notice of the boycotts of royals at graduation ceremonies: “a growing number of young Thais who are refusing to attend their graduation ceremonies because they are presided over by members of the royal family.”

The article cites one student who: “identified as ‘anti-royalist’ and [stated] that attending her graduation ceremony would have been ‘a waste of time’.” She added: “I don’t know why the royal family has anything to do with our graduation.”

Academic Paul Chambers suggests an answer: “The monarchy makes a great deal of money overseeing graduations so I doubt this practice will end any time soon…”.

Responding to royalists who want to punish students, a student observed: “They don’t know that people have already changed, that our culture has changed, so they just keep saying the same things that worked before, but it doesn’t work any more.”

Update: A reader correctly observes that while royals can make money from the graduation ceremonies, the real reason for royal involvement has been to establish and maintain ideological hegemony, particularly of the middle class.








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