Censorship unites mad monarchists and ultra-nationalists

28 11 2021

PPT has mentioned several times that we were sure that self-censorship and regime censorship was increasing simply because so many lese majeste cases were not making it into the mainstream media.

That perception has been confirmed in reports that the supplicant National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission “has warned the media against reporting on calls for monarchy reform…”.

NBTC commissioner Lt Gen Perapong Manakit reportedly “said during a meeting with representatives of various media outlets that they should not broadcast the 10-point demand for monarchy reform put forward by the activist group United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration at a protest on 10 August 2020, after the Constitutional Court ruled on 10 November…”. Since then, the NBTC rules have circulated.

The general affirmed that reporting on calls monarchy reform “could be repeating the offense.” He stated that “reporters should not interview protest leaders, protesters, or those who agreed with the demands, but may report on the events that happen.” He warned that there should be no “long live broadcasts of protests to prevent the re-broadcast of speeches made during protests and calls for people to join the movement.”

The NBTC has also told the media that they should “avoid inviting guests for talk show interviews about the demands, especially inviting representatives of both sides in to give their opinion on air.”

These kinds of censorship and threats to reporters and media outlets egg on ultra-royalists and ultra-nationalists. Not that long ago, the Bangkok Post reported that Sonthiya Sawasdee, a former adviser to the House committee on law, justice and human rights has made a police complaint “against Miss Universe Thailand Anchilee Scott-Kemmis for standing on what looks like a Thai flag in a picture featured on the pageant organiser’s website.”

Sonthiya has “accused Anchilee of breaching the 1979 Flag Act and the PM’s Office announcement banning the use of national flags for commercial purposes.”

The picture “was released online in a promotional campaign before Anchilee competes in the 70th Miss Universe pageant in Israel on Dec 12.”

Photo from Thai Enquirer

Sonthiya wants to stop Anchilee from setting “a bad example for young people, as has a large following on social media.” She’s seen as too close to reformists and democracy activists.

Thai PBS added that Anchilee was “carrying a Thai flag pole on her shoulder and standing on a Thai flag motif carpet.” The outlet seems as dull as the rightists attacking her, confusing a constructed image as including a “carpet.” But, we are talking about stupid nationalism/royalism. Many of them “took her standing on the Thai flag carpet, particularly on the blue bar, which signifies the monarchy, … and pointed out that she was showing aggression toward the revered institution.”

From a Facebook post

Clearly, fake news, but the regime’s fake news is okay. For example, royal news is often faked. Most recently, the Bangkok Post announced that a “research team led by … Princess Chulabhorn … has demonstrated two methods for synthesising molnupiravir for emergency use on Covid-19 patients…”. Given her longstanding and debilitating illnesses, we doubt she leads anything. This is simply royal posterior polishing as established in the previous reign.

While on Chulabhorn, several years ago, when she supported anti-democrats then calling for a coup, she used the Thai flag on a dog’s foot.

And, we can only wonder about all of those shoes sold with the Thai flag emblazoned on them.

In other words, the usual double standards of “good” people versus “bad” people is at work. The “good”can do what they like and will be praised even when they do nothing. Critics, especially those wanting a democratic Thailand, are censored. The media is threatened – censor the other side or else!

 





Students vs. the feudal regime I

24 10 2021

As Pravit Rojanaphruk points out in a Khaosod op-ed:

A year has passed since the students-led monarchy reform movement descended to the streets of Bangkok and beyond in large numbers. One year on, over 140 have been charged with lese majeste crimes, or defaming the monarchy. It’s punishable by a maximum imprisonment term of 15 years. Around half a dozen of them are currently … incarcerated….

Scores of others face hundreds of other charges. Some are in jail, others have bail, others await more charges.

While the media face censorship and with “self-censorship are the norm, combined with self-denial or silence to due fears of repercussions or political expediency,” the students continue to push for change.

Thai PBS reports that the Chulalongkorn-Thammasat football match procession will be different this year. The executive committee of Chulalongkorn University’s Student Union is unanimous in canceling the Phra Kieo coronet, Chulalongkorn University’s emblem. Why? They see “it to be representative of a feudal culture and a symbol of inequality.”

As the most royalist of universities, with many connections with the monarchy and royal family, the message is clear.

In his  article in support of other students who suffer feudal repression – lese majeste – Pravit calls on the media to support them:

The press could continue to watch and simply report about more prosecutions as more youths take the risks, are taken to jail, repeatedly denied bail, and refrain from questioning the anachronistic law . Such stance means the Thai press continue to be part of the problem for their lack of courage and commitment to greater press freedom.

It means the mostly young political activists feel the need to express themselves publicly on the streets or on social media, despite the risks as they regard the current situation as not just abnormal but unacceptable, untolerable and undemocratic…..

The least that journalists and media associations can do is to call out publicly and say we need to talk about the lese majeste law and something needs to be done about it. Even if they do not support the abolition of the law, there are crucial details worth reforming: the severity of the law which is disproportionate and more.

In fact, from our observation, the media has not been comprehensive in reporting of these arrests and charges and the reporting is so sporadic that we feel the regime and its supporters have cowed the mainstream media.

The students deserve better. Thailand deserves better.





Trampling remaining freedoms I

30 07 2021

Earlier this month, six of the country’s media associations called upon the regime to reconsider the new media measures, worried that they would be use “to censor media coverage and infringe on the public’s freedom of expression.”

Those demands were not just ignored, but Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, as premier, has instructed “relevant authorities to strictly enforce the new measures against the media, influencers and social media figures, among others.” As a result, the associations concluded:

1. The Prime Minister’s insistence on enforcing the new measures, along with the recent attempts by his government to intimidate and take legal action against members of the public who simply exercise their constitutional rights to criticize the administration during the Covid-19 pandemic, clearly reveal an intent to crack down on the freedom of expression enjoyed by the media and the public.

2. The government’s assertion that the new measures are necessary to tackle what it terms “fake news” shows its refusal to acknowledge the administration’s failure in its communications with the public….

3. We call upon all professionals in the media and news agencies to stand in unison and oppose the government’s new measures. We also urge the media establishment to take utmost care to ensure that their news coverage is accurate and compliant with the highest journalistic standards — in order to deny the government any excuse to interfere with media operations, which will in turn affect the public’s right to information.

The regime’s response is to “double … down in its campaign against so-called ‘fake news’, shrugging off complaints by Thai media organisations…”. Digital Economy and Society Minister Chaiwut Thanakmanusorn said “the anti-fake news committee has set up a special working group to combat misinformation on social media via administrative, tax and social measures.”

Essentially, the regime has “barred media from disseminating [so-called] fake or distorted news and news that could stir fear regarding the COVID-19 outbreak, effective from today (Friday), with a threat of censorship if violations are made.”

Gen Prayuth has “signed the restriction order, which was published in the Royal Gazette yesterday. According to the order, the media are banned from publishing and broadcasting information that incites fear or with intent to twist the information and cause confusion, which may affect national security and stability.” In other words, the regime has given itself the power to ban all reporting and social media commentary it does not like.

Like the dark days under military dictatorships of previous decades, the regime is deliberately vague in its definitions so as to instill fear:

Fears for journalists and news organizations are real and the consequences of the new decree can be existential. News organizations must now navigate—not only a vaguely worded definition of what is considered fake news—but a hostile regulatory environment where an array of agencies could be actively targeting them in a bid to silence legitimate critique of the government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thai journalists, who often work long hours for low pay, could be swayed by the possibility of a lengthy prison term and a substantial fine. Self-censorship among journalists … is likely to increase.

Most worrisome for news editors is the second guessing that might accompany editorial decision-making on pandemic-related news or information that is critical of the government. A severe consequence is that the government clearly wants to silence and penalize any news organization or journalist that publishes information that runs contrary to the government’s sensibilities—even if the information has been verified and deemed wholly accurate.

The regime’s “new decree doesn’t differentiate between the truth and fake news…”.

Cod Satrusayang states that this is “the move of a desperate government that has lost much of its legitimacy and all of its trust with the people that it has failed.” He continues:

This is Prayut now, defeated but still defiant (or perhaps oblivious) to the truth. We should not expect any better because this was a government that seized power through a military coup. It is run by military men – incapable of any governance that relies on consent and not conscription. This latest move shows the Thai military is not one of strength but subjugation.

We, the media and the people, can and must resist this latest proclamation.

The decree, he says, is Orwellian. Sadly, it is far worse than that. A desperate regime appears willing to do everything it can to stay in power, trampling freedoms and again standing on the bodies of the innocent dead.





Updated: “Fake” news, state news

13 06 2021

Anyone who struggles through the blarney posted by the regime’s PR outfits must wonder about the meaning of “fake news.”

But when the regime’s bosses talk “fake news” one can expect they are talking about others and their news. Mostly, they are worried about news on the monarchy and criticism of themselves.

All kinds of political regimes have taken up “fake news” as a way of limiting criticism, but it is authoritarian, military and military-backed regimes that have been most enthusiastic in using it to roll back and limit criticism. In Thailand, repression has been deepened through all kinds of efforts to limit free expression and to silence opponents.

With laws on computer crimes, defamation, treason, sedition, and lese majeste, a reasonable person might wonder why the regime needs more “legal” means for repression. But, then, authoritarian regimes tend to enjoy finding ways to silence critics.

It is thus no real surprise to read in the Bangkok Post that Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan has ordered “the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society (DES) and security agencies to take tough action against those who spread fake news.” He included the “Anti-Fake News Centre, the Royal Thai Police, the Justice Ministry and the DES” telling them to “work together to respond swiftly to the spread of fake news on social media platforms, and take legal action accordingly.”

I Can't Speak

His minions “explained” he was worried about virus news, but when Prime Minister Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha “instructed the Council of State, the government’s legal advisory body, to study the laws and regulations, including those in foreign countries, dealing with the spread of fake news” the focus was much broader and was clearly about anti-monarchy news. After all, officials added that the Computer Crime Act was insufficient for curbing “the damage speedily enough.”

The Thai Enquirer sensed an even broader regime agenda. They saw the use of the Council of State as a path to a “law that would control the online media in Thailand.”

They recognize that the aim is to strengthen “national security,” code for the monarchy. But, they also note a desire to limit “the criticism that the government has received over its Covid-19 response program from online platforms” including by Thai Enquirer. Of course, that criticism has also involved the monarchy.

They rightly fear that the online media “would be targeted under the new law.” They say:

This law, as commentators have noted, is an affront and a threat to free and fair press inside this country. It would make our job thousands of times harder and open us up to lawsuit and the threat of legal harassment by the government.

As we have been saying at PPT, Thai Enquirer believes:

we are being taken back to the dark days of military rule because the government believes criticism aimed at them is a threat to the entire nation. That they are unable to differentiate between a political party, its rule, and the fabric of the nation is arrogant and worrying.

But here we are, even as Deputy Prime Minister and legal predator Wissanu Krea-Ngam thinks of an excuse to shut us down, we promise to you that we will keep reporting to the end.

They call for opposition to tyranny, adding that “this new onslaught against press freedom” will be opposed through their reporting.

In a Bangkok Post op-ed by Wasant Techawongtham acknowledges that fake news can be a problem but notes that a new law “Bootis aimed at silencing critics of the ruling regime.” He adds:

Since democracy was banished from Thailand following the 2014 military coup d’etat, a number of laws have been enacted purportedly to protect the Thai people against the harmful effects of computer crimes. But it is crystal clear that the real purpose of these laws is to suppress the voice of the people.

Authoritarians tend to go to great lengths to ensure their stay in power through silencing dissent.

Under this regime, Wasant observes that regime opponents have been “harassed, or even put in jail” and several have been dissappeared and others killed.

He recognizes that a range of repressive laws have:

done quite a remarkable job of suppressing free speech. Those who insisted on speaking their minds against the current rulers have been severely dealt with. Those who were put in jail were allowed back to their families only after they agreed to seal their lips.

Not only regime and monarchy critics are silenced, but the “media — broadcast, digital and print — have felt compelled to screen their offerings very carefully, which in many cases leads to self-censorship.”

But none of this is enough! The regime wants more! There can be no freedom. There can only be the regime’s “truth.”

Update: Thinking about fake news from the regime, the royal propaganda machine is pumping out some real tripe. The latest has the king and his number 1 consort cooking meals allegedly for “medical professionals,” although in the story at The Nation, Sineenat isn’t even mentioned.

Royal cooks

Clipped from The Nation

As they often are, the couple appear in identical kit with minions groveling around them. We are told that “King … Vajiralongkorn on Saturday cooked a variety of food at the kitchen of Amphorn Sathan Residential Hall in Dusit Palace…”. He’s the cleanest cook in history, with not a stain to be seen, suggesting that its fake news or, in other words, a photo op meant to deceive the public. And, their gear changes in several of the pictures.

To add to the “news,” the “Royal Office” is quoted as saying:

These foods have nutrition values of five food groups with fingerroot as a key ingredient…. Fingerroot or Krachai is a Thai traditional herb that has various medicinal benefits and could help strengthen the body’s immune system and help prevent Covid-19. Furthermore, eating freshly cooked meals is one of the recommended ways to stay safe from the virus.

We have to say that we at PPT must have wasted our time getting vaccinated because, as the royals have, hot food protects us, and we eat “freshly cooked meals” at least twice a day! Krachai may well be the king’s favorite ingredient as it is said to help with male sexual performance. But how to explain the erect chef’s hat is beyond us.

That aside, this palace propaganda must rank as “fake news.”





The Prasit affair

23 05 2021

Readers may recall our recent post about the fraudsters who bore remarkable similarities to the massive Mae Chamoy scam of the 1970s and 1980s. The similarities were royal and military.

Prasit 1

Prasit displaying loyalty

Following the negotiated surrender and arrest of fraudster-in-chief Prasit Jeawkok, the Bangkok Post had a recent editorial calling for the military to reveal its links with Prasit. As ever, self-censorship, fear and misplaced loyalty prevents the Post asking about palace links.

A couple of days ago, Thai PBS provided some background on Prasit. For those who can read Thai, we suggest going to the source of much in this report – the grifter’s own website. All of our photos are clipped from that website, where there are plenty more.

The report observes that the “wealthy businessman” was once considered “a saint and a model of success” by the yellow-shirted brigade. He is now outed as a fraudster who may have nicked more than a billion baht. As seen in the Mae Chamoy scam, such fraudsters usually share with influential people in military, police, and even palace.

As can be seen at his website, Prasit made much of his links to the palace and its activities and displayed the loyalty expected of  “good people.”

Prasit 10

Prasit claims he is a “reformed gangster” who abandoned his criminal past to establish a “billion-baht business empire” from which he now “gives back” to society. He claims a rags to riches story.

Like so many of his ilk, he’s made many influential connections.

Prasit 8

Prasit has also “given back” as a royalist and as a supporter of the military and its ruling regime.

He’s “been linked to the Thai military’s so-called ‘information operations’ (IO), which critics say target the government’s opponents and propagandize for the powers-that-be.” Opposition politician Pannika Wanich of the Progressive Movement accuses “Prasit of being instrumental in the Army’s IO by allowing free use of computer servers under his control.”

Prasit admits “”to owning phone applications and servers used by the military but said his goal was to combat fake news by spreading facts about His Majesty the King’s kindness.”

Like many rogues, Prasit promotes “his royalist credentials. Appearing on a talk show in early December, he unbuttoned his shirt to reveal the words “Long Live the King” tattooed on his chest.”

Prasit also makes much of his relationship with the late Privy Council president Gen Prem Tinsulanonda, Prime Minister Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, former Cabinet members and, of course, senior military leaders.





Fudging for the monarchy

10 05 2021

Without explanation (that we can see), the Bangkok Post has changed an online story. Guess what it is about? The king’s Siam Bioscience company. It might be a small thing, but it is illustrative of how the system works. Someone got upset, got on the phone and the story gets changed. If it was legitimate, you’d expect a note, but not in royalist Thailand.

Here’s the original story:

Siam Bioscience-produced AstraZeneca vaccine passes quality testing

9 May 2021 at 13:31

Samples from test batches of the Covid-19 vaccine made by Siam Bioscience have passed quality testing at AstraZeneca’s designated laboratories in Europe and the United States, the company announced on Sunday.

In a press release — in English but with numerous grammatical errors — James Teague, Country President, AstraZeneca (Thailand) Ltd said:

“We have seen a series of significant and promising progress [sic] in AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine development in Thailand during the past weeks. First, the Thai Food and Drug Administration approved Siam Bioscience as a manufacturing facility for COVID-19 vaccine AstraZeneca. Last week, the samples of COVID-19 vaccine AstraZeneca made by Siam Bioscience passed the full tests the standard set [sic] by the Department of Medicial Sciences (DMS) for  requirements such as chemical composition and safety.

“And today, I am happy to be able to inform you that the samples from the test batches of the Covid-19 vaccine made by Siam Bioscience had passed the quality testing at AstraZeneca’s designated laboratories in Europe and in the U.S.

“These significant progresses [sic] mean that we are getting closer to deliver the first batch of the vaccine to the government of Thailand.”

According to the release, numerous safety tests and quality control measures are carried out at each step of manufacturing and distribution. This includes completing all steps in the quality assurance process, with each batch of  vaccine undergoing more than 60 different quality control tests during its journey from manufacture to vaccination. To ensure consistent quality across supply chains, the release said, AstraZeneca has built an extensive, global analytical network.

Mr Teague continued: “Our focus is on delivering vaccines as quickly as possible whilst ensuring adherence to the highest safety and quality standards and processes. We will continue to work closely with the government to achieve that. We are well aware that increasing concerns and question [sic] have been raised around vaccine safety and the availability of supply to help Thais and the people in Southeast Asia to fight this terrible COVID-19 pandemic.

“I want to once again reiterate AstraZeneca’s commitment that we are putting science and the interest of society at the heart of our work. And we will remain true to our values by continuing to work with governments and other organisations towards broad and equitable access to the vaccine in a timely manner and at no profit during the pandemic.”

Here’s what it became, with the same headline, same date and same time stamp:

Siam Bioscience-produced AstraZeneca vaccine passes quality testing
9 May 2021 at 13:31

Samples from test batches of the Covid-19 vaccine made by Siam Bioscience have passed quality testing at AstraZeneca’s designated laboratories in Europe and the United States, the company announced on Sunday.

In a press release, James Teague, Country President, AstraZeneca (Thailand) Ltd said:

“We have seen a series of significant and promising progress in AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine development in Thailand during the past weeks. First, the Thai Food and Drug Administration approved Siam Bioscience as a manufacturing facility for COVID-19 vaccine AstraZeneca. Last week, the samples of COVID-19 vaccine AstraZeneca made by Siam Bioscience passed the full tests the standard set by the Department of Medicial Sciences (DMS) for requirements such as chemical composition and safety.

“And today, I am happy to be able to inform you that the samples from the test batches of the Covid-19 vaccine made by Siam Bioscience had passed the quality testing at AstraZeneca’s designated laboratories in Europe and in the U.S.

“These significant progresses mean that we are getting closer to deliver the first batch of the vaccine to the government of Thailand.”

According to the release, numerous safety tests and quality control measures are carried out at each step of manufacturing and distribution. This includes completing all steps in the quality assurance process, with each batch of vaccine undergoing more than 60 different quality control tests during its journey from manufacture to vaccination. To ensure consistent quality across supply chains, the release said, AstraZeneca has built an extensive, global analytical network.

Mr Teague continued: “Our focus is on delivering vaccines as quickly as possible whilst ensuring adherence to the highest safety and quality standards and processes. We will continue to work closely with the government to achieve that. We are well aware that increasing concerns and question have been raised around vaccine safety and the availability of supply to help Thais and the people in Southeast Asia to fight this terrible COVID-19 pandemic.

“I want to once again reiterate AstraZeneca’s commitment that we are putting science and the interest of society at the heart of our work. And we will remain true to our values by continuing to work with governments and other organisations towards broad and equitable access to the vaccine in a timely manner and at no profit during the pandemic.”





Thinking about the ruling class I

30 10 2020

Often PPT is startled by some of the reporting we see in the mainstream media. Sometimes we are disappointed that some of that media simply cannot extract itself from regime and palace propaganda, from ruling class interests and from strangling self-censorship.

We reckon that the Bangkok Post has been particularly awful in the way it has reported many recent events. Its latest reporting on the king’s problems in Germany had this ridiculous, even laughable, line: “the King travels to Germany from time to time.”

Do they think its readers are morons? Every one knows that the king spends most of his time in Germany and that he ordered the junta’s constitution changed to allow him to conduct the affairs of state when in Germany. Everyone knows that royal minor wife Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi spends most of her time – since she was released from jail – in Germany. Every one knows that the queen spends most of her time in Switzerland. And, many know that Princess Sirivannavari spends much of her time in France. This is a European royal family. So why is the Post so hopeless?

Sirivannavari and boyfriend at Paris Open

Thinking about hopeless stuff, how about bail?

As we know, many of the “leaders” of the anti-regime protests are in jail, denied bail. THese are mostly young students.

How’s that work when a report in the same Bangkok Post tells us that “[s]elf-professed gambler Apirak ‘Sia Po’ Chat-anon was detained after showing up at a police station in Bangkok to be questioned about a shootout on Tuesday that resulted in two men being wounded.” Sia Po stands “accused of shooting and wounding two men in front of Saree Sauna & Spa…”.

When he showed up at the police station – they didn’t go out and arrest him – he arrived with  “his brother … accompanied by Santhana Prayoonrat, a former deputy superintendent of Special Branch Police…”.

Royal Household Bureau via Khaosod

We won’t go into how it is that a gangster and gunman has a retired senior policeman with him – the answer is too obvious. But we do note that Sia Po was “later released without condition by the Thon Buri Criminal Court after posting 350,000 baht bail.”

But the students who haven’t shot anyone or or engaged in any violence are denied bail. Fair? Of course not. It is all ruling class buffalo manure. Think of all the cops supporting the Red Bull who drove over and killed a policeman.

There was another Sia who accused of gangsterism. That was Sia O several years ago. Are they all in this together? Of course they are. It’s a ruling class.

Even if the royal family aren’t engaged in gangsterism, they plunder the taxpayer’s money.





King’s man

10 10 2020

If anyone thought the protesters were exaggerating the role the king plays in the administration of the country, the recent media censorship/self censorship of the story on German criticism of King Vajiralongkorn would seem to prove the protester’s point.

If more evidence was needed, look at the air force.

Back in late August, we posted on the new commanders of the martial forces in Thailand, observing that the big winner was King Vajiralongkorn. The most senior appointments were made to satisfy the king.

Of course, loyalists have long been in charge of the armed forces, and the palace has always had and expressed preferences, with Vajiralongkorn having previously been involved in contests over the appointment of police chiefs. But the most recent appointments were the clearest yet of Vajiralongkorn exercising his political influence.

On the air force appointment, a few days ago, Khaosod reported that Air Chief Marshal Airbull Suttiwan’s sudden rise and appointment as air force chief was controversial.

It states that a year ago, ACM Airbull “was an air force officer working in a relatively junior position as an ‘expert’,” and that “[h]e did not command any force.”In providing further background, the report points out that:

Unlike previous air force chiefs, Airbull was never assigned to a combat squadron – a job that’s supposed to provide the candidates with an understanding of air supremacy and how to defend Thailand’s air space. Airbull spent most of his time as a pilot with the C-130 transport aircraft.

In other words, he was not in line to be air force commander.

The report states that his sudden rise to the top came as a “surprise of seniors in the force and outsiders alike.”

Former air force boss, ACM Manaat Wongwat denied that there had been any “external influence” in the “curious decision that reportedly left the air force seething with anger.”

No one believed Manaat. It was widely known that the king wanted Airbull.

Indeed, the anger in the air force cause the Bangkok Post to report in late August:

ACM Airbull, an air force specialist, was earlier reported to have been nominated by ACM Maanat as his successor and the nomination approved by Prime Mnister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, who is also defence minister.

The source said the change came about during the weekend, when other candidates for the job moved in protest.

According to the source, a former air force chief called Gen Prayut on the telephone, voicing disapproval of the nomination of ACM Airbull and saying there were other air force officers suitable for the position.

This was a brave move against the king’s man.

More recently, ACM Manaat came up with ludicrous explanations for Airbull’s promotion, claiming he was the best candidate and invoking an “evaluation” said to be “based on ‘six characteristics, 10 quotients’ criteria reportedly invented by the air force founder, Prince Chakrabongse.” This prince has been propagandized as “the father of the army’s Royal Aeronautical Service, a forerunner to the Royal Thai Air Force.” He died in 1920. His name and the so-called criteria is a royalist feint, described by Khaosod as “an apparent attempt to discourage questions from the public…”.

The royal intervention means that there are topics “beyond what Khaosod English can publish.” That’s the self-censorship and management pressure that stifles discussion of the monarch, even when he is engaging in activities that are beyond his constitutional role.

But the article hints, referring to a military beat reporter who states: “Everyone knows why Airbull is selected, but they can’t just talk about it… You can try asking the officers around, but no one wouldn’t dare to talk about it.”

Airbull’s loyalty to the king is legendary, displayed in his ridiculous haircut that is the 904 style that the king demands. Khaosod states that:

Airbull rose up the ranks throughout the following years, serving as an air force attache to different countries, but perhaps the most significant of all was his post to Germany, where previous air force chiefs such as Maanat and Chaiyapruk Didyasarin had [also] served.

Of course, Germany has been the king’s principal residence for several years. So it is his connection to the king and his displays of loyalty that get him a top job.

And, of course, In his first media appearance “Airbull pledged his allegiance to the monarchy…”.

Clearly and emphatically, the king is engaging in matters that are beyond his constitutional mandate. The protesters are right to demand that the king be reigned in.





Going backwards VI

16 02 2020

We have posted a couple of times on the monarch’s plans for Crown Property Bureau buildings on Rajadamnoen Avenue and the fears that this royal vandalism amounts to a Talibanization of the avenue. Some worry that it might eventually mean the destruction of the Democracy Monument.

The massive renovation is to occur along a 1.2-km stretch of the road, ordered by the king and managed by the CPB. As we have posted before, critic Chatri Prakitnonthakan, an expert and author on buildings from the era of the revolution that toppled the absolute monarchy, lamented the attack on the art deco architectural style of the avenue. His view is that the art deco architecture, which symbolized a break from feudal absolutism, is being removed as a sinister effort by royalists to erase relics related to the 1932 revolution.

Rajadamnoen now. Clipped from Wikipedia.

The plan is to transform the buildings to neoclassical style.

Interestingly, this motivation on the part of right-wing reactionaries is not limited to Thailand. In a recent article in The Economist has revealed that property developer-cum-President Donald Trump is also interested in going backwards:

On February 4th the Architectural Record, a trade journal, reported that it had been leaked a draft copy of an executive order the president intends to sign, ordering that new federal buildings should be designed in neoclassical style….

He seems to believe that:

architects designing federal buildings have been too much influenced by “brutalism and deconstructivism” and should return to the era of America’s founding, when the inspiration, both politically and architecturally, came from ancient Athens and Rome.

The Architectural Record stated that the White House’s “Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again” report on an Executive Order that:

would require rewriting the Guiding Principles for Federal Architecture, issued in 1962, to ensure that “the classical architectural style shall be the preferred and default style” for new and upgraded federal buildings.

Since then, there’s been an outcry:

The response to RECORD’s article was instantaneous. Newspapers from San Francisco to London jumped on the story, social media and websites were flooded with comments, and design critics and editorial boards weighed in—most attacking the proposed EO. The AIA issued a statement, opposing “uniform style mandates and the idea of any official architectural style”—and called on its members to to protest; in the first week, nearly 11,000 architects wrote to the president.

Further, the AIA has

… reached out to the chairs of the House and Senate appropriations committees, “strenuously” urging them “to ensure that no funding is appropriated to implement or carry out this new dictate,” arguing, among other objections, that the order could increase the cost of a federal building by as much as two or three times.

When Thailand’s rightist royal seeks to vandalize the past because of royalist bile that has been rising for 80+ years, what happens? Almost nothing. Most of the mass media self-censors and doesn’t even mention the destruction being done. Fear, murders, jailings and assaults, censorship, lese majeste and a military-backed government means that the silence is deafening.





Muted media

7 02 2020

The Bangkok Post has an editorial that, among other things, criticizes the Royal Thai Army and Army chief Gen Apirat Kongsompong over leaks about a set of rules for how soldiers should sit, stand and other postures.

The editorial lashes Gen Apirat for deviating “from established military traditions and lay[ing] down his own set of rules of conduct that seem petty…”. Appearance hardly matters when the military has so many other problems (like running coups and murdering citizens with impunity).

That seems reasonable.

But why does the Bangkok Post (and most other media) not make similar observations regarding King Vajiralongkorn’s compulsive-obsessive orders to military and police about appearance (haircuts, uniforms, salutes, etc.).

The answer is obvious. The media is cowed. It is worried into self-censorship, royalists control much of the media and the king is frightening.








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