Royalist assaults Thanathorn

25 10 2022

Thai Newsroom reports on an attack on Progressive Movement leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit at a crowded book fair at the Sirikit International Convention Centre on Sunday. Not all newspapers have reported the attack – for example, as far as we can tell, the Bangkok Post hasn’t mentioned it. We got to wondering why.

But first, the reported details. Thanathorn was attacked by “Kanetpitsanuthep Jakkapopmahadeja [Ganeshpisnuthep Jakphopmahadecha ] alias Kay Roy Larn,” who tried to put Thanathorn in a choke hold and shouting that he had a bomb.

Thanathorn quickly freed himself a bunch of people overpowered Ganeshpisnuthep before police arrived.

As odd as the failure to report, Thai Newsroom does not explain that the attacker is an arch royalist with a very strange background. Perhaps it is Ganeshpisnuthep’s royalism that prevents it being said.

Indeed, the last time PPT posted on this odd royalist, we also discussed media self-censorship. This was in 2019 when Ganeshpisnuthep showed up at the Rajaprasong intersection, clad in a yellow shirt, and in a Mercedes decked out in royal portraits. He carried a large knife and a bag of snakes. Watched by thousands, he was said to have killed some of the snakes and to have cut himself.

Then, newspapers did not report the royal link nor reproduced photos showing that royal decorations on the vehicle.

Even if Ganeshpisnuthep  is mad, his royalism needs to be reported, especially when he’s attacking a person that royalists love to hate.

 





Bureaucrat butt burnishing

18 10 2022

During the many years of the last reign, senior bureaucrats came to learn that their careers were enhanced by the degree to which they could polish royal posteriors. Getting the previous king honorary degrees and global awards, particularly from various supine UN agencies became all the rage for those seeking high position or just wanting to bathe in the reflected light from highly polished royal butts.

It seems this continues after death, and especially as King Vajiralongkorn’s ideological positioning includes paying homage to his father, obviously hoping that there’s a rub-off from his dead dad’s highly burnished image.

The Nation reports that the “Education Ministry will next year ask Unesco to add Thailand’s beloved monarch, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great, to the list of the world’s eminent personalities.” Even his now title was part of the whole posterior polishing process that became a symbol of “nation” and “national security.”

Education Minister Trinuch Thienthong wants her ministry to lead in having the dead king “globally honoured for the work he has done for his subjects as well as the world community.” The claims about “work” for “subjects” was stock-in-trade for past regimes, but the “world community” claim is “innovative.” For a while, such claims were made about agriculture, then about rain-making. The minister, however, emphasizes “King Bhumibol’s philosophy of sufficiency economy is now being adopted across the world.” That claim, like may others made for royals, is stretching the truth, but butt burnishers are used to making all sorts of wild claims in Thailand, where no one may question royal greatness.

Trinuch wants UNESCO “to add King Bhumibol to the list before his centennial birthday is marked on December 5, 2027.”

There’s not much information available – that we could find – on this UN program. What we did find – and it is quite old – suggests that UNESCO goes out of its way to promote royals, including a few Thai royals and connected sycophants.

The last announcement we saw of Thais being added to the list stated:

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has honored two late but legendary Thais. The body approved a resolution by UNESCO to add Her Royal Highness Princess Galyani Vadhana Krom Luang Naradhiwas Rajanagarindra and 19th century scholar Phraya Sisunthonwohan to its list of the world’s eminent persons for their contributions to culture and learning.

HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana was described as the hardest-working member of the royal family [PPT: hold on, wasn’t that meant to be Bhumibol? Royalists tend to get confused on such banal claims] already beloved for its devotion to improving the lives of the Thai people.” Blah, blah, blah.

Back to the report, where Atthapol Sangkhawasi, permanent secretary for the Education Ministry, explained the “process”: “the Education Ministry will get the late monarch’s nomination details ready for the Cabinet to deliberate upon within this year before it seeks approval from King Rama X.” He explained that, as usual for Bhumibol, the “nomination” would be “based on the many achievements … including his talent in painting, sculpture, engineering, innovation and technology, photography, sports, music, language and literature.” It’s almost as if he hadn’t died. All the same old blarney-cum-palace propaganda is repeated ad infinitum, with truth long laid to rest.





Monarchism and Foreign Affairs

11 10 2022

We seem to have missed this free article from the the Journal of Contemporary Asia. From JCA’s blog:

On His Majesty’s Service: Why is the Thai Foreign Ministry Royalist?” (DOI: 10.1080/00472336. 2022.2081930) is a new article by Pavin Chachavalpongpun of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at Kyoto University in Japan.

This article is now available for free download. This offer expires soon.

The abstract for the article states:

In the final decade of the King Bhumibol Adulyadej reign, various state agencies lined up to defend the monarchy against political opponents. Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs was one of those state agencies expressing its disdain for elected governments dominated by Thaksin Shinawatra whose popularity was perceived to threaten royal power and prerogative and, hence, the stability of the throne. Beginning in 2006, Thai diplomats, serving and retired, joined anti-Thaksin movements calling for his resignation, which culminated in the 2006 military coup. The research question for this study is: Why is the Thai Foreign Ministry royalist? It is argued that the Foreign Ministry’s contempt of Thaksin was, at one level, due to its obligation to reinforce royal hegemony. At another level, the Foreign Ministry sought to protect itself in the face of Thaksin’s drastic bureaucratic reforms. This study traces the source of royalism among Thai diplomats. It explores the impact of the bureaucratic modernisation in the late nineteenth century, which further deepened ties between the Foreign Ministry and the palace. It also examines the characteristics of Thai diplomats as a privileged political caste whose status is sustained by its dependence on the monarchy. In the final part, the study discusses Thaksin’s control of foreign affairs, inevitably instigating a clash with the Foreign Ministry.





Silk and shaky royal power II

31 05 2022

Following up on our last post, the media has been reporting that the state has been especially energetic in promoting silk royalist ideology.

Thailand is not at all short of royalist celebration days, but yet another has been added. According to The Nation, August 12 has been declared “Thai Fabric Day,” in another posterior polish for the Queen Mother, Sirikit.

On Tuesday, a Cabinet meeting was brought forward to approve Culture Minister Itthiphol Kunplome’s proposal “to declare the birthday of … Queen Sirikit as ‘Thai National Fabric Day’ to mark the 90th of birthday of the Queen Mother…”.

Clipped from The Nation

Itthiphol also revealed that “the Cabinet also instructed government agencies to carry out PR campaigns on the royal activities of the Queen Mother so that Thai children and people would learn from various royal projects.” In another report, he claimed the old queen played a “role in boosting the country’s prosperity and raising people’s standard of living.”

Prime Minister and one of the old queen’s acolytes, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha chimed in, blathering about “her tireless promotion of Thai textiles [and]… the revival of the domestic industry.” He claimed that Sirikit had “advised local weavers on ways to improve their skills as well as the quality of their fabrics…”. In essence, it is the great, the good, and the all-knowing who tell the lower classes how to do the things they’ve done for centuries.

All of the time, effort, and taxpayer funds expended on this event was “rewarded” with an appearance by the king and queen, suggesting that the palace has been heavily involved in yet another propaganda event.

There were some seriously weird “fashions” on show. None more weird than the king’s suit. While the king has repeatedly demonstrated a strange fashion sense, this fashion travesty resulted from his daughter’s design “skills.” Sadly, as bad as the suit is, we can only assume that it will now be taken up by the sycophants in government and in the higher reaches of the business community.

Clipped from The Nation





Updated: Dark business, wealth and the king

15 01 2022

At the end of last year, PPT posted on an odd story on dark power, the navy and self-punshment. We pointed to a whiff of royalism.

Now, Prachatai reports that Lt – Prachatai says he’s a Captain – Alongkorn Ploddee, the director of the Real Estate Division of the Sattahip Naval Base, is potentially facing lese majeste charges.

Capt Alongkorn is accused of claiming that “the King … knew him well.” In the past, several police and military officers claiming such links have been convicted under Article 112, been dismissed, and some have died.

Alongkorn “has been dismissed from service effective from 7 January.” In addition, it is stated that he “has been detained at a military camp in Sattahip, Chonburi, facing four charges and at risk of being charged with lèse majesté in a military court.”

He made his claims at a restaurant in Sattahip and earlier at a restaurant in the Ekkamai area. There, he claimed to he was in “Rama IX’s guard for 18 years. Rama X knows me well, just so you know that you are losers. I can remove you any time. No need to call anyone. I won’t go anywhere. I sit here. I’m the biggest in this country…”.

The navy also revealed that, as expected, Alongkorn was wealthy, having “at least 12 vehicles including one Isuzu, six Toyota, one Honda, one Porsche, one Ford, and two Mercedes Benz.” Reminiscent of Pol Col Thitisan “Joe” Uttanapol or “Joe Ferrari,” caught on camera suffocating a man to death. Whatever happened to that case?

It is stated that the “Sattahip Police Station has set up a committee to consider whether to charge him under the lèse majesté law.”

Interestingly, continuing the whiff of royalism, no relatives have come forward to provide bail. If things travel as they have in the past, little more may be heard of this case or of Capt Alongkorn.

Update: In another story, a similar effort to use royal connections, real or concocted, has come to light. It is reported that a complaint has been lodged “with Region 8 Police yesterday [12 January 2022] over police in Nakhon Sri Thammarat not taking any action to investigate a member of a “volunteer foundation” accused of misusing a royal insignia and a Royal Thai Police badge.” It is claimed that the unnamed “volunteer foundation” used a royal insignia, “called the ‘Phra Maha Phichai Mongkut’, and the police badge to stage checkpoints and force local residents to comply with other instructions given…”. The report adds: “The ‘volunteer foundation’ was not named in the report … but the actions described match those usually conducted by Civil Defense Volunteers, or ‘OrSor’.” PPT has posted on similar uses of royal connections previously. Several led to lese majeste convictions.





Regime stooge

31 12 2021

Kavi Chongkittavorn was for decades at The Nation, writing mostly on foreign policy. He was with that newspaper as it became seriously rightist in opposing Thaksin Shinawatra, with several writers, including Kavi, tapping out propaganda that supported the rise of right-wing royalism and two military coups.

Kavi once positioned himself as an interpreter of Thailand for foreigners, seemingly supporting democracy and human rights, and gladly accepted all kinds of US and European trips and fellowships including fellowships at the East-West Center, Oxford University, and Harvard University. He even served the committee for the Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize and is a member of the governing board of the Human Rights Resource Centre, a non-profit academic center headquartered at the University of Indonesia in Jakarta. That Centre is supported by UI, the Canadian International Development Agency, Stanford University, the Swiss Embassy, and USAID.

But all of that seem to be artifacts and/or are lies about his real views.

Kavi or a Stooge?

In his latest op-ed at Thai PBS, where he’s reunited with another regime stooge formerly with The Nation Tulsathit Taptim, he throws his full support behind the military-backed regime and its authoritarianism. He also shows that he’s a fan of conspiracy theorists.

He does this by supporting the regime’s temporarily withdrawn “draft bill on so-called Not-for-Profit Organisations” that gives control of local and international NGOs operating in Thailand to the Ministry of Interior.

While Kavi drops the word “allegedly” a couple of times, his views are clear, considering that “both local and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) … perpetuate fake news against and negative views of the government.” Then he reveals the real impetus for the need to control and limit:

Worse still, some of them, with funding from abroad, have reportedly tried to topple the current political system under the constitutional monarchy.

Only conspiracy theorists believe this. It’s nonsense. The support is to people jailed under draconian laws who have their rights limited.

Kavi laments that his military-backed, undemocratic government “has come under constant attack by these organisations, which have sometimes perpetuated allegedly untruthful information and made inflammatory remarks.”

He reckons the problem is with groups that engage in advocacy like those who funded his junkets to the West and the Human Rights Resource Centre.He bites the hand that has fed him:

To show support for the CSOs, representatives of the US and other Western embassies based in Bangkok met with selected groups of local and foreign CSOs on Tuesday. Among them was a representative from Amnesty International, which is currently embroiled in controversy due to its campaigning in support of the youth movement, which is calling for reform of the monarchy.

Kavi attacks foreign NGOs:

Thailand … will not tolerate those who advocate for the ongoing campaign for reform of the royal institutional, which it considers an internal matter. For decades, the presence of these civil society organizations has been viewed positively. That is no longer the case for some. In the near future, pending the draft bill, the government will toughen its engagement [sic.] with the CSOs. Both recipients and funders will have to come clean and be accountable, or face consequences.

He’s been a fraud and now he’s a regime stooge.





No democracy! Hagiography!

6 10 2021

Remember the recent ranting by ultra-royalists and dinosaur bureaucrats and senior regime dolts about a series of of eight illustrated children’s books called Nitan Wad Wang, or “Dream Tales?” So incensed were the authorities that they began a probe looking for themes deemed critical of the government and sympathetic with the pro-democracy movement. They were also looking for anything negative about the king or monarchy.

Education Ministry spokesperson Darunwan Charnpicharnchai was especially “worried” that the booklets contain information that misleads children.

The story of this is retold at Thai PBS.

Clipped from the Bangkok Post

Meanwhile, the hopelessly inane Ministry of Culture “has released a cartoon book featuring biographies and stories about the contributions of the 10 monarchs of the Chakri dynasty.” No prizes for guessing that this is a pile of buffalo manure meant to prime kids with royalism.

The 237-page comic is meant to “honour of the 10 monarchs of the Chakri dynasty,” so can’t be truthful. We guess – couldn’t find the book at the Ministry website – that the chapter on the current king is well and truly padded out because he’s achieved so little in his 68 years.

Culture Minister Itthiphol Kunplome – whose father was a gangster and killer – “said … the cartoon format is partly aimed at promoting interest among the younger generation in the royal institution [monarchy].” He added to the manure pile by saying that “the monarchs have ruled under the Ten Principles of Kingship and devoted themselves to improving people’s livelihood through preserving and promoting cultural heritages and ensuring peace and prosperity.”





Constitutional Court and Thai-ness

15 09 2021

We wanted to draw reader attention to a short academic article at I·CONnect, the blog of the International Journal of Constitutional Law. “Determining What is ‘Thai’: Thailand’s Constitutional Court and Identity Polarisation” is by law professors Rawin Leelapatana and Suprawee Asanasak.

As there is again talk of the Constitutional Court being mobilized once again in a political battle, we felt that the perspective provided by this article worthy of consideration for the attention it gives to authoritarian pasts and the rightist/royalist notion of “Thai-ness”:

Having experienced authoritarian pasts, the attempt to consolidate liberal constitutionalism, however, inevitably comes into conflict with the traditional notion of authority, i.e, Thai-ness, which emphasises the unity of Thai nation embodied in a righteous Buddhist monarchy, rather than a commitment to legality and individual rights…. As an integral part of the Thai nation, the holdover elites, the military, and royalist supporters therefore commonly assert that threats to the monarchy constitute sources of a political crisis. For them, liberal constitutionalism is a foreign – alien – product which seeks to replace the notions of strong leadership, national homogeneity, and social hierarchy underlying Thai-ness with those of legality, human rights, and equality, thus potentially threatening royal hegemony.

They conclude that:

Overall, the Thai experience has revealed how the mechanism anticipated as the guardian of liberal constitutionalism, the CC [Constitutional Court], might be manipulated and abused by conservative and nationalist actors whose values and ideology are rooted in their self-proclaimed national pride and moral superiority. The CC has embedded authoritative Thai-ness into the heart of Thailand’s liberal constitution. Nevertheless, as the CC’s judgments imply, even Thai-ness itself has to be constructed under the logic and language of liberal constitutionalism.

It is worth reading the whole article.





Fascist-like culture wars

6 09 2021

Thana Boonlert of the Bangkok Post has an op-ed on the junta-appointed Senate that is worth considering.

Hardly noticed, the unelected senators convened to consider “a motion for the virtuous council…”. Huh? Yep, the unelected swill of military backers, ultra-royalists and assorted conservatives “sought to reform the national culture to ensure its progress, discipline, and morality.”

Senator Sirina Pavarolarvidya “attributed the current social conflict to the generation gap and proposed that the virtuous council be established to provide role models for every sector of society.” By this she means the youth have lost “gratitude, discipline, honesty, sufficiency, and a volunteer spirit…”. That all of this is imbued by thick-headed royalism is revealed when she says these “virtues” “are born out of the love for nation, religion, and king.”

Berlin, Germany….. Two heads that bow as one, Herr Adolf Hitler, Dictator of Germany (left), bids bon voyage to King Prajadhipok of Siam, when the latter, accompanied by his queen, left Berlin following their extended visit to Germany’s capital. This modern ruling family does all its traveling by airplane, while in Europe, at least.

She sounded decidedly Fascist when she said that “…[w]hen people are virtuous and healthy, they acquire knowledge and skills.”

Thana sees historical links with “the government of Field Marshal Plaek Phibunsongkhram issued cultural mandates to strengthen Siam in the context of the global war.” That Phibun was attracted by Fascist models was not unusual, with many entranced by authoritarianism, militarism and strong leaders.

The morality demanded, Thana says, “is like a balm for those in power who are under threat from the pro-democracy movement.” Such a “campaign for virtue justifies and sustains the regime that rose to power from a military coup in 2014,” which Thana sees as an effort at “refashioning itself into a bastion of virtue…”. It’s the ridiculous “good people” justification for all political and social repression and corruption. Thana expounds on this.

Than observes that “the virtuous council is an expression of fantasy of those in power.” For PPT, it sounds a bit like a version of the “deep state” argument that the judiciary was needed to carry on the then (near dead) king’s interventionism. In this version, it seems like an effort to replace the (now) dead king’s alleged “moral” leadership.

None of the “blatant misconduct, nepotism, and corruption” is necessarily negated by culture wars directed by “good people” royalism and moralism.





Royalism corrupts

4 09 2021

The judicial system has lost much of the precarious public support it once had. Now, the only standards used are double standards.

Admittedly, the police were never held in high esteem, known to be murderous and thoroughly corrupt. But judges and prosecutors also display wanton corruption and never-ending double standards.

While some judges still try to hold some standards and to adjudicate the law, the deepening royalism of the judiciary has overwhelmed them. Political cases litter the judicial playing field, with judges taking decisions based on notions of “Thainess,” “good” vs “bad” people, on orders from the top or made for reasons that seem to bear no relationship to written law. Not a few judges have been shown to be corrupt.

A Bangkok Post picture

Meanwhile, prosecutors do as they are told and, in some cases, as they are paid. Wealthy killers get off with the support of corrupt prosecutors. Kids get prosecuted for political crimes. Working hand in royal glove with judges, prosecutors oppose bail in political cases, seeking to damage “suspects” through lese majeste torture and, now, the threat of virus infection in prison for political prisoners.

On the latter, as the Bangkok Post reports that “activist Chartchai Kaedam is one among many political prisoners infected with Covid-19.” His condition is cause for much concern.

A petition has been lodged with the National Human Rights Commission “demanding an investigation into how a Karen rights activist contracted Covid-19 while imprisoned,…” pointing out that “he is not a criminal and should be allowed bail, especially given his health condition…”. The petition added that “bringing innocent people into a contagious environment such as a prison during a deadly virus outbreak violates their rights..”.

The NHRC has been pretty hopeless since it was politicized under the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime, but in this case, Commissioner Sayamol Kraiyoorawong says “staff have made some ‘unofficial’ attempts to get information from the Department of Corrections about his [Chartchai’s] condition and treatment.” But guess what: “Under the Covid-19 crisis, we [NHRC] have not been allowed access to the prison to see people…”. Other concerned by his condition are also denied information. Prachatai reports that the “his family and lawyer were not able to speak to his doctor or obtain information on his condition.”

The impression is of a callous, deliberately dangerous, and unjust system seeking to punish even those not convicted of a crime and held without bail on trifling charges. Of course, they are political charges.

In another branch of the royalist swill, the police are still at it. Pol Col Thitisan “Joe” Uttanapol or “Joe Ferrari,” has reportedly been charged “with premeditated murder by means of torture, unlawful deprivation of liberty and malfeasance.” Despite all the evidence leaked, Joe now claims “he just ‘assaulted’ the victim, and did not torture and murder him.” He’ll probably get off. The pattern will be for witnesses to be paid off or strong-armed, for the case to be drawn out for years, and with public attention having moved on, and judges gingered up and rewarded, Joe might get a suspended sentence. That’s how the system rots.

All in all, this is a sorry tale of how royalism corrupts, money corrupts, and political preferences corrupt.

But never fear, “good” people are at work. Into this fetid swamp masquerading as a judicial system, come the Education Ministry, “planning to modify the history curriculum in schools to strengthen learning amid recent moves by youth groups against the kingdom’s highest institution [they mean the monarchy].” Yes, cleaning up Thailand means pouring palace propaganda into children. We suppose that this is an admission that the never-ending and expensive royalist buffalo manure over 50 years has failed to get sufficient cowering acquiescence. We do know that those who have drunk most at the fount of royalist propaganda are the most corrupt.

 








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