“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.