Monarchy and health rumors

16 05 2021

Mad monarchism results in all kinds of weird contortions in Thailand. We think we have just noticed a doozie.

A couple of days ago we mentioned the rumors about the king. We stated: with the regime telling Thais not to believe fake news while not telling them what the fake news is, millions have gone seeking the “fake” news. It turns out to be a rumor that the king is hospitalized. No one knows if he is, but it seems the regime, by not denying the rumor has confirmed it for many.

We updated, noting that Royal Central had repeated the rumors of the king’s hospitalization. That more or less guarantees that the rumors will now spread internationally. We suspect the king needs to show himself or the Royal Household Bureau needs to issue a statement.

But, quite bizarrely, it is rumors that the queen had the virus that got the regime moving.

The Office of the Prime Minister is reported to have “dismissed as false online rumours that … the Queen was infected with Covid-19.” It went on to urge “people to monitor Covid-19 news from a reliable channel, such as the Facebook page of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.”

It can’t be just us who think this bizarre. Why does the regime come out immediately to deny health rumors about the queen, but is silent for days now on the rumors about the king’s health? Many will draw the conclusion that this suggests that the king really is ill.

“Dead” king “recovering” (again, perhaps)

2 10 2016

After having recently been (mis)reported as dead, it is reported in the Bangkok Post that, as has been the case umpteen times over the past decade, the king is again “recovering.”

In what is described as “the 36th announcement issued by the Royal Household Bureau,” the “royal medical team” has reported that the king’s “lung infection had subsided after treatment for a low-grade fever…”.

The bureau stated that “on Wednesday and Thursday, [the king]… had a low fever and a high pulse rate with a lot of phlegm. A blood test indicated that he had an infection and an X-ray detected some fluid in his lungs. The doctors gave him antibiotics on Thursday.”

At the same time, it is reported that “his urine output was still minimal. Doctors, therefore, are continuing to closely monitor his condition and are administering continuous renal replacement therapy (CRRT) treatment.”

In other words, the king remains desperately ill.

Re-ordering the palace

26 09 2016

As we and others have posted over the past couple of years, as the health of the king has gone from bad to worse, Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn has been re-arranging palace affairs.

He has changed the command relationships associated with troops assigned to the palace. He got rid of an unwanted consort and her family. Although we cannot be sure, he seems to have been behind several of the efforts to clean away various royal hangers-on, through lese majeste cases.

A recent reshuffle of the royal household suggests that the slow, slow succession continues. The Bangkok Post reports that a “Royal Command has been issued to appoint Chirayu Isarangkun Na Ayuthaya the Lord Chamberlain of the Royal Household Bureau.”

Chirayu was previously a Grand Chamberlain and is the head of the Crown Property Bureau.

While the announcement follows the recent death of Lord Chamberlain, Keokhwan Vajarodaya, a couple of the new appointments are getting attention.

The Post states that the “royal command, issued on Sept 23, 2016 and countersigned by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, was published in the Royal Gazette on Sept 25.” Normally it would also be stated that the king signed the command. This may be an oversight at the Post.

It also states that “eight other persons have been appointed to positions in the Royal Household Bureau…”. In fact, as can be seen below (and here), several of them have held these positions for several years. Presumably the order derives in part from the prince’s re-ordering of the palace.

The appointments are:

1. ACM Satitpong Sukvimol to be Grand Chamberlain for policy administration and operations.

From Wikileaks: Separately, Niphon Promphan (Secretary General to the Prime Minister and a close associate of the Crown Prince) told us that he had met on March 2 with the Secretary to Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn, Air Chief Marshall Satitpong Sukvimol, and had relayed our concern that Bout would receive assistance from the Crown Prince’s office (reftel). Niphon told us that Satitpong denied that he or others in the Crown Prince’s entourage had any association with Bout. Satitpong said he would use his resources to investigate this false claim of ties to the Palace.

2. Lt Col Somchai Kanchanamanee to be Grand Chamberlain for royal residences.

We can’t find any information. Maybe readers can assist?

3. Pol Gen Jumpol Manmai to be Grand Chamberlain for security and special activities.

Jumpol or Chumpol is a former National Intelligence Director when Thaksin Shinawatra was premier.

From Wikileaks: the ongoing dispute over appointment of a new National Police Chief [link added by PPT] and the possible resignation of PM Abhisit’s Secretary General Niphon Promphan, who also works for the Crown Prince. At the Crown Prince’s direction, Niphon opposed Abhisit’s choice, GEN Patheep, in favor of the Crown Prince’s choice, GEN Chumpol Manmai. The inside story on why the Crown Prince wanted Chumpol so much, and risk criticism for intervening in a high level personnel choice against the evident wishes of the PM, is that Chumpol allegedly served as Thaksin’s bag man, personally delivering to the Crown Prince monies skimmed off the proceeds of the lotteries involved in the current court case. While such a story cannot be reported in the Thai media due to Lese Majeste concerns, the Crown Prince-Chumpol connection underscores the sense of lottery critics that Thaksin launched the lottery scheme to create a government slush fund which he could use to fund not only populist schemes like scholarships but also pet projects off the books for personal and political gain, without any accountability.

4. Khwankeo Vajarodaya to be Grand Chamberlain.

Has held this position for several years. His recently deceased brother, Keokhwan, was previously Grand Chamberlain.

5. Narongrid Snidvongs Na Ayuthaya to be Grand Chamberlain.

Has held this position for several years.

6. Jintana Chuensiri to be Grand Chamberlain for finance.

Has held this position for several years.

7. Songkram Supecharoen, M.D., to be Personal Physician to His Majesty the King.

Has held this position for several years.

8. Pol Gen Pongsak Rohitopakarn to be Grand Chamberlain.

Has held this position for several years.

Updated: King’s health emergency continues

11 09 2016

The long and seemingly torturous decline of the king continues after some seven years of almost constant hospitalization and regular and serious illnesses.

The latest announcement from the Royal Household Bureau is that the king has “no fever” and that his “blood infection has eased…”. The team of Siriraj Hospital doctors “have stopped administering antibiotics.”

The real message, however, has to do with failed kidney function: The report states “[h]is urine situation was still minimal. The medical team continues to administer CRRT treatment and is keeping a close watch on his kidneys…”.

Update: Thailand’s SET continued down on Monday.stocks

Stocks and royal health

9 09 2016

Most Thailand-based news outlets have had “difficulty” reporting the king’s decline. Fear of lese majeste and internalized notions of self-censorship inhibit real reporting.

Interestingly, Khaosod has linked the king’s renal failure with the stock market’s week of declines.

They did this by noting that there are some events wishing the king luck.


Further updated: Keeping the king alive

5 09 2016

This was originally posted on 3 Sept. Because the updates are important, we have re-dated it.

How long will the royal doctors keep the king alive? When does keeping him alive become a unnatural act. Based on the many reports of his health crises, we think that time must have long passed.

The idea that the king can continue to “operate” politically – approving junta laws and the like – is simply ridiculous for a man who seems so ill that he has been bedridden and non compos mentis for months.

Never mind, his royal body continues to have life, of sorts, and the doctors remain hard at work.

AFP outlines the latest death watch report from the Royal Household Bureau.

It says the “hospital-bound” king “has received treatment for a ‘severe’ blood infection…”.

In the past couple of months, in addition to this illness, he’s been reported to have “a series of ailments, including bacterial infections, breathing difficulties, heart problems and hydrocephalus — a build-up of cerebrospinal fluid often referred to as ‘water on the brain’.”

The statement from the palace this time said “blood tests revealed the king was suffering from a ‘severe infection’.” It stated that “his heartbeat was fast and he had very thick mucus. A test result of the mucus and blood indicated a severe infection…”. He had fluid on the lungs, fever and low blood pressure. He’s probably received huge antibiotic doses, something he’s had repeatedly in recent months.

The fear of letting the king die naturally reveals much about Thailand’s royal house and the military’s politics.

Update 1: As usual, the royal household reports that the king is “improved.” At his age and after so much serious and unending illness, the king is “alive” but little more.

Update 2: Andrew MacGregor Marshall has an important Facebook post on the king’s ill health. He covers some of the material we dealt with, but in more depth. His post is well worth seeking out.

The fears over the king’s health may well have caused the recent turmoil on the Thai stock exchange. As AMM also points out, Bloomberg is one of the few news outlets to name names. It states: “Thailand’s SET Index fell 1.9 percent, the biggest drop since April. The decline followed the latest update on the health of Thailand’s 88-year-old king…”. Initial declines were much higher, suggesting rumors and fear.

Near death recoveries

1 08 2016

Both the king and queen spend all their time in hospital, each suffering the multiple ailments of the old. They are both kept alive by teams of doctors. Alive may not mean that they are able to do anything at all, including breathing.

The Royal Household Bureau is issuing regular “reports” that are irregular and still opaque.

One recent report has the queen being moved from Siriraj hospital to Chulalongkorn Hospital. This routing seems regular now. She was moved because an “x-ray showed a slight inflammation on her lungs and blood tests showed an infection…”. Why she isn’t treated at Siriraj, where she resides and where the king is treated is unclear.

As always in these reports, the queen is said to be “improved, with her fever having “subsided and coughing … eased…”. Even so, “she will remain at the hospital for a while longer before being moved to the same hospital as the king.” That is, moved back to another hospital.

Meanwhile, AFP reports that the king still has a fever and continues to be treated with antibiotics. The Bureau stated: “After taking antibiotics his condition has got better but he still has some fever…”.

It seems the king is on antibiotics all the time and has repeated fevers. He also continues to have problems with his catheter that drains excess spinal fluid.

Both seem essentially terminally ill, with doctors working very hard to keep them alive.

Staying alive

20 06 2016

Reports of doctors taking actions to maintain the king in this world have been appearing with increasing regularity over the past few weeks.

The most recent report we have seen is from AFP. The report notes that this “latest health update released by the palace [Royal Household Bureau] on Sunday…”. It also observes that: “Information on the monarchy is tightly controlled by the palace. Throughout much of the last two years of Bhumibol’s hospitalisation, updates have been rare. But in recent weeks the palace has issued a string of health bulletins.”

In the most recent bulletin, doctors are said to “have performed a procedure to reduce a new build-up of water on the brain, the palace said Sunday, the latest in a series of procedures for the 88-year-old.”

AFP observes that the king “has spent most of the past two years hospitalised in Bangkok for a series of ailments, including bacterial infections, breathing difficulties, heart problems and hydrocephalus (water on the brain).”

The latest procedure was “to install a new catheter to drain excess fluid in his brain.”

AFP points out that the king “has not been seen by the public since September when the palace released a video of him being taken in his wheelchair to visit a shop inside Bangkok’s Siriraj hospital.” Officials claim he briefly left the hospital in January.

Anniversary and operations

9 06 2016

Two monarchy stories have been prominent this week. One is about the 88-year-old king’s ongoing and tortuous last years as his health declines and the royal doctors work to keep him alive. The second story is of the muted commemoration of the king’s 70 years on the throne – a throne that he came to in still official mysterious circumstances of his brother’s death. Of course, as Andrew MacGregor Marshall says, the unofficial story is that the present king “killed his brother,” without necessarily implying intent. One newspaper report mentions the event.

Superstitious types might link the two stories.

About a week ago, the Royal Household Bureau reported another problem in the the king’s health, saying he was being “closely monitored for irregular function of his heart muscles…”. We commented that this might be cardiac dysrhythmia, that could indicate a heart attack, but that it could also be many other disorders. Within days, it was reported that the king had “received treatment for narrowing of the heart arteries with ‘satisfactory results’,” dealing with the coronary artery disease that often impacts the elderly.

The report states that “[d]octors performed a procedure known as balloon surgery to widen the arteries on Tuesday … after tests had shown insufficient blood in the heart muscles. Arteries on both sides of the king’s heart had narrowed…”. The Bangkok Post reported the Royal Household Bureau also inserted a “stent and rotablator in some locations, to widen the arteries…”. Details on the use of rotablator can be found here. Information on stents and balloon angioplasty is here.

Less reported in the international media has been the sickly Princess Chulabhorn’s hospitalization. The latest report on her condition – third report from the palace – is that she remains in hospital following a “biopsy on May 20 at the hospital after a polyp was found in her neck.” Late in May, doctors stated she “had a high fever at times and was still very weak.” The latest report says ” she remained very weak, and doctors therefore had recommended that she put off royal activities for a while longer.” It refers to “a successful operation to remove a tumour from her neck…”.

The commemoration of the king’s 70th year on the throne is not at all like the massive series of events staged on the 60th anniversary. With the king more or less out sight, unable to effectively do anything and very ill, such celebrations were never likely. Newspapers have specials, wire services have stories, the “compulsory” commemorative banknote has been released, world leaders sent regards and the military junta has arranged a few things.

The international media has shown some interest, with the International Business Times UK having not much of a story but quite a few high-quality photos that can be interpreted in various ways. Interestingly, the only two prime ministers of Thailand we can identify in them are Thaksin and Yingluck Shinawatra.

The decline continues

3 06 2016

It was only two weeks ago that the Royal Household Bureau reported that the king’s tortuous health decline had been marked by yet another crisis, suffering yet more fevers and inflamed knees, with this episode signaled by unusual muscle spasms and an abnormal accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid or hydrocephalus. As usual, he was soon reported to have recovered and “normalized,” whatever “normal” means for an aged man hospitalized for several years.

Khaosod now reports that another crisis has occurred. The short report, emanating from the Royal Household Bureau, states that the king is being “closely monitored for irregular function of his heart muscles…”. Perhaps this is cardiac dysrhythmia, that could indicate a heart attack, but it could be many other disorders.

Apparently a “monthly palace health update,” it also reports that the king “suffer[ed] from stomach pain throughout May rendering him unable to eat.The king’s team of personal physicians administered food intravenously.”

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