More taxpayer funds for royals

26 01 2023

PPT was (not) staggered to learn from a story in The Nation that reports that even more bags of taxpayer money is being poured into pampering the wealthy royals.

The story states that the regime “has approved an 8.78-billion-baht budget to procure new aircraft for VIPs including royals, privy counsellors, prime ministers, ministers and royal guests.”

Oddly, the report does not say what kind of aircraft is being purchased.

The Prime Minister’s Secretariat proposed the purchase as the “Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) needs to replace the old Airbus A340-500 procured from Thai Airways International (THAI) for VIP travel.”

This Airbus appears to be the same VIP plane that the generous generals shoveled money into for the Royal Thai Air Force for a magnificent loo for royal poop and pee at a cost to taxpayers in excess of 54 million baht.

At that time, it was also reported that the air force had awarded Thai Airways a 750 million baht contract to renovate the interior of a Boeing 777-800 royal aircraft that was said to be under direct command of King Vajiralongkorn’s Deachochai 3 Royal Flight Unit.

Adding salt to the deep wounds on the taxpayers’ collective back, in 2020 it was reported that a new Airbus was procured for royal travel, complete with a VIP conversion at Lufthansa Technik. At a cost of probably well north of US$100 million, the plane joined a VIP fleet that then included two Boeing 737s, three Airbus 319/320/340s, three ATR 72s, 3 Sukhoi Superjet 100s, one Super King Air, and four Saab 340s.

Obviously, the rather small royal family doesn’t feel sufficiently pampered. More taxpayer money probably helps makes them feel better about themselves.





Jeered for good reason

11 01 2023

Despite all of the protests of 2020 and 2021, the main change associated with the monarchy seems to be that the king now spends his time in Thailand. We can’t help thinking that’s a Pyrrhic victory.

Much else that happens seems little different from the pre-protest period or even from the previous reign. At least for readers of the mainstream media, this appearance is reinforced on a daily basis as syrupy stories are churned out about the monarchy and the rapidly diminishing royal family while anything that is not laudatory is simply not reported in an orgy of self-censorship and regime threats. Even palace lies are reported as truth. That’s how palace propaganda has long worked.

Think of some recent stories. When the HTMS Sukhothai sank, the explanations have been difficult to believe, but the fact that royalism led to many deaths is not pushed in reports. When navy chief Adm Choengchai Chomchoengpaet “explained” a lack of life jackets, he simply brushed it away as a royal necessity trumping the lives of sailors: “before the ship sank, it took on board 15 marines and another 15 personnel to take part in a ceremony marking the anniversary of the death of the Prince of Chumphon, who is regarded as the ‘Father of the Thai Navy’ in Chumphon.”

Clipped from Thai PBS

Then there’s the story of corruption and nonsense associated with the re-naming and re-signing of the Bang Sue Grand Station, now postponed. Why is a new name sign required? Of course, it is because King Vajiralongkorn rather belatedly “bestowed” a new name on the station: Krung Thep Aphiwat or “Bangkok’s prosperity.”

On fabricated palace “news,” see our recent post.

And, we are wondering why no one questions why almost every holiday is seemingly a royal holiday? There’s another new one for Coronation Day. The impression being manipulated is that only royals matter.

Meanwhile the pathetic efforts by ministries to promote the dead king with malleable UN agencies.

The thing is that ever growing numbers of Thais no longer “buy” palace propaganda. That’s why they jeered at the Blackpink concert.

That’s also why the regime and palace lese majeste dragnet is the largest ever. The most recent case involves:

Atirut (last name withheld), a 25-year-old programmer, on charges of royal defamation [Article 112] and resisting arrest. Atirut was charged for refusing to sit down and shouting “Going anywhere is a burden” as King Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida’s royal motorcade passed a crowd gathered at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre (QSNCC) on 15 October 2022.

That’s also why they jeered at the Blackpink concert.

Keeping the lid on rising opposition to the palace propaganda is becoming increasingly difficult for a regime that is itself falling apart.

 





112 reform

29 10 2022

It is reported that the Move Forward Party has reiterated its “unwavering” policy support for the”amendment to the draconian lese majeste law.”

Apparently, the party was responding Bhum Jai Thai Party semi-leader and Deputy Prime Minister/Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul and Chart Thai Pattana Party leader and Natural Resources and Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-archa who recently declared they were opposed to any effort to amend the law.

Parit Wacharasindhu announced that the party “will resolutely put forward concerted moves to amend the lese majeste law, also known as Section 112 of the Criminal Code, in order to uphold social and political justice and foster constructive relationship between the people and constitutional monarchy.”

Parit said the “law has been abusively and unjustly enforced by one party’s political opponents under the pretext of maintaining the highly-placed honours and prestige of the monarch and royal household.”

Interestingly, he also pointed to “some corruption-riddled government projects under the excuse of running what may be officially called ‘royal honour-celebrating projects’.”

The Move Forward Party is proposing limited reform: a maximum of  one year in jail or a maximum of 300,000 baht in fine for Article 112 convictions.

Abolition of the ridiculous law would be much better.





Update: Is she back?

13 10 2022

Some social media are saying that Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi, the missing royal consort, has re-appeared.

At present we do not know if this is fake news or real, but the source of the stories seems to be a page devoted to Sineenart. More as we hear of it.

If she is, the question remains: how can someone near the top of the royal family – essentially King Vajiralongkorn’s second wife – simply disappear since December, and with no explanation?

The answer, of course, is that in royalist Thailand no one can ask questions about the monarchy without risking jail or violence.

Update: Nothing more seen since the initial social media post. A reader reckons there’s photos of a baby circulating…. We remain doubtful of these stories and await more official news on the disappeared woman.





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.

 








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