Erasing a concubine

8 01 2020

While doing a bit of catching up and on the topic of erasing, the fate of the king’s favorite and then dumped concubine should get some attention, not least because there’s been all kinds of rumors about Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi.

A quick refresher on the dumping:

It seems that now he’s king, Vajiralongkorn’s nastier actions can be more easily covered-up, when compared with his three earlier bust-ups. As such, there’s been nothing in the media about Sineenat since she was thrown out of the palace. About the only English-language reporting we can find is at the Thai Alliance for Human Rights, which seems comprehensively blocked in Thailand.

The most recent of these posts is dated 26 November 2019. It is a Facebook post from 22 November and translated by Ann Norman. It states:

More News on King Vajiralonkorn’s Abuse of His Former Concubine Goy and Her Relatives

รายงานข่าวการรื้อบ้านคนดังที่ท่าวังผา ต่อจากรายงานครั้งที่แล้วเมื่อ 5พย.62
News report on the demolition of the home of the star[let] at Tha Wang Pha [King Vajiralongkorn’s ex-Royal Consort Goy] since the last report on the 5th of November 2019

สถานการณ์บริเวณรอบๆบ้านสีเหลือง3ชั้น หลังงามที่อ.ท่าวังผา จ.น่าน ยังตึงเครียด ตัวบ้านวันนี้ถูกรื้อเรียบร้อยแล้ว (รูปที่1 คือรปเดิมขณะถูกรื้อ) แต่ขณะนี้ใครก็เข้าไปถ่ายรูปไม่ได้ เพราะมีแผงเหล็กกั้นถนนทุกแยกที่จะเข้าถึงตัวบ้าน (ตามรูปที่2-6 คือรูปปัจจุบันที่ได้ใหม่เป็นภาพบริเวณรอบบ้าน) พร้อมมีทหารและตำรวจสันติบาล อยู่เวรยามควบคุม (ห้ามรถวิ่งผ่านหรือเดินเข้าไปถ่ายรูปตัวบ้านและเจ้าหน้าที่ที่ยืนเฝ้า)
The situation at the perimeter of the beautiful yellow three-storied house at Amper Tha Wang Pa, Naan Province, still is tense/serious. The house today has been now been demolished; it is completed. The first picture is from before, but at this time no one can get to it to take a picture because there is a iron stand protecting the road at each road that approaches the house (as in pictures 2-6 that are current new pictures of the area surrounding the house) as well as soldiers and security police taking turns controlling the area (they forbid cars to pass or for anyone to walk by and take pictures of the house or the officers guarding it.)

ข้าวของในบ้านที่รื้อถูกนำไปเก็บไว้ที่ค่ายทหาร ม.พัน15
The things in the house that was demolished have been taken for storage at a military camp.

ผู้อาศัยในบ้านหลังงามต้องหลบไปอยู่กระท่อมกลางนา เพราะไม่กล้าไปพักกับเพื่อนบ้านเนื่องจากผู้ให้ที่พักกลัวจะเดือดร้อนจากเจ้าหน้าที่ ส่วนน้องสาวคนดัง ที่ชื่อ ก.ไก่เหมือนกัน ขณะนี้ยังไม่แน่ชัดว่าถูกจับ พร้อมพี่สาว หรือว่าอยู่ที่ใหน …จะได้ติดตามรายงานข่าวให้ทราบต่อไป ( ขอขอบคุณนักข่าวพลเมืองในพื้นที่ส่งข้อมูลให้)
The people living in the beautiful house had get out of the way and go live in a little hut in the center of a field. Because they didn’t dare go live with neighbors, as those neighbors were afraid the officers would cause them distress. As for the younger sister of the star[let], also named “G.” [I thought Goy’s younger sister was named “ณัฐพร อุ่นพรม Nattaporn Umprom” but she probably has a nickname], at this time it isn’t clear whether she was captured at the same time as her older sister or where she is. I will keep following this news.

It is generally accepted that Sineenat is imprisoned somewhere in Thailand – various prisons have been mentioned – but the rumors of a week or so ago that she had died or been killed have not been given much credence. Still, as Sineenat has been completely wiped from the public record and because Thailand is so hopelessly censored, self-censored and people are frightened of the erratic and grasping king, no one can officially have any knowledge of this young woman’s fate.





With 3 updates: Model king? Model family?

2 01 2020

The king recently delivered his New Year homily with a straight face. The report of it implies that it was a live statement, but it may well have been pre-recorded as the king seems to prefer being in Europe.

Self-crowned

The new year message is something that his father did and Vajiralongkorn recognizes its propaganda value.

In this message he entreated Thais to:

have wisdom, faith and awareness while adhering to virtue, righteousness and appropriateness, and to be determined to contribute to national and public interest.

It is well known that Vajiralongkorn has difficulty meeting these standards in his own life and he seemed to recognize this, saying “that mistakes and flaws were natural in any kind of work.”

But in saying that such mistakes and flaws “should serve as lessons to enhance experiences and wisdom to prevent recurrences and to create development” seem to be contradicted by his repeated “mistakes.”

His high-profile promotion of his mistress to official concubine, only to throw her in prison months later, while obliterating her from media and even demolishing her family house seems a re-run of earlier failed relationships.

Royal Household Bureau via Khaosod

2019’s fall of Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi (Niramon Ounprom) had sad resonances of his terrible treatment and public shaming of earlier wives, Yuvadhida Polpraserth and Srirasmi Suwadee.

He seems unable to find “righteousness” in dealing with wives and mistresses. Wisdom seems to avoid him.

The king also produced advice about “keep[ing] up … morale and physical health while remaining mindful of their conduct.” He added that he “hoped people would live their lives with decency, righteousness and in moderation…”.

Vajiralongkorn places great stock in fitness and physical appearance, having ordered special haircuts, uniforms, physical regimes and fingernail inspections for his staff and the forces he has taken over. That regimen has been adopted by the hopelessly monarchist military brass. But “decency”? That seems a quality lacking in the current palace.

In yet another message, the king encouraged Thai children to apply “knowledge and morality” to “build a better society.” This is a pre-recorded message as it is for Children’s Day on 11 January.

The king is said to “care” about children and their future.

We wonder why one of his favored children – Princess Sirivannavari – is currently in the unusual situation of being criticized and having to be defended for shockingly selfish. But that’s also a pattern seen in the king’s own life.

It is probably not remarkable that monarchs and their family behave badly. But in Thailand, it is unusual for this behavior to be criticized. And, a king who seems to favor absolutist ways is unlikely to notice the hypocrisy and double standards of his speeches and exhortations.

Hopefully Thais do not see the king or his family as role models.

Update 1: Khaosod removed the story on Princess Sirivannavari, so here it is in full:

Netizens Furious at Authorities Closing Down Popular Islands

BANGKOK — Twitter is up in flame on Thursday following a decision to shut down tourist islands in the south over the New Year holidays to provide security for a group of high-profile visitors. The hashtag #IslandsShutDown appears to be trending on Thai Twitterverse by Thursday afternoon, where many users criticize the local authorities for causing disruption to the public. One of the trip delegates later acknowledged the criticism and apologized for the inconvenience.

National park and marine officials closed off the islands of Bi Da, Pan Yi, and He from holidaymakers on Dec. 29, Dec 31, and Jan. 1, respectively, according to internal memos sent to government agencies in Krabi, Phang Nga, and Phuket provinces.

The memos said Princess Sirivannavari was traveling to the islands on a private visit. Local officials were instructed to prevent fishermen and divers from entering the area due to security
concerns.

After backlash made its rounds on social media, a celebrity who accompanied Princess Sirivannavari on her trip said she wasn’t aware of the protocols adopted by security officers who guarded those attractions.

Writing on her Instagram account, ML Songlak Svasti also apologized for the inconvenience, and said she was willing to listen to feedback from the public.

“Our group is not being idle about this issue, and we sincerely acknowledge the criticism you have written,” Songlak wrote in reply to one of the critics.

Update 2: Clips from Khaosod added above.

Update 3: A correspondent at The Royal Forums reports on events since October 2019 that have seen residents complaining about the monarch and his family. It implies that this large rise in criticism represents a decline in the royals’ “popularity.”

Implicit in all of this is the fear among royalists that the monarchy remains under attack. Watch Gen Apirat Kongsompong who has been criticizing all kinds of “opponents” but zeroing in on Future Forward Party and its leaders. Is a showdown coming?





With 4 updates: King disposes of another wife

21 10 2019

It was is July that King Vajiralongkorn “bestowed the title of ‘Chao Khun Phra,’ or Royal Noble Consort, to Maj. Gen. Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi, one of his royal guards.” She had been his minor wife for several years, often photographed with the prince-cum-king in Germany.

Then, in August, Sineenat, as royal consort, got huge palace-arranged propaganda as the king’s favorite.

All of this seemed to be a part of re-establishing the absolutism that the king appears to crave.

But, today, Sineenart is out, gone, dismissed. The official announcement “accused Sineenat of attempting to prevent Queen Suthida from being crowned and abusing her royal status.” It goes on:

According to the announcement, Sineenat not only “expressed her opposition and exerted her pressure in every possible way” regarding Queen Suthida’s elevation to the throne as the Queen of Thailand, she also sought to have His Majesty the King appoint her to the role instead.

Improbably, the July promotion to official consort is “explained”:

When in favor, now disappeared

After her repeated disobedience and attempts of interference with the royal affairs, the statement said, … the King graciously bestowed her the title of Royal Noble Consort in July out of hope that Sineenat would “lessen her pressure” and change her tact [sic.].

Instead, Sineenat continued to display “ambition” and overstepped her authority by engaging in many royal court activities without … the King’s approval, which caused much confusion to the public….

The announcement concludes that:

Her actions are considered disloyal, ungrateful, and ungracious of [the king’s] kindness…. They caused division among the royal servants and misunderstanding among the public; these amount to acts of sabotage against the country and the institution [monarchy].

She has been stripped of all royal ranks, decorations, and her military rank. That’s happened before and the victim continues to be punished. We can’t help wondering what Sineenat’s fate will be. For that matter, what becomes of her family and friends? An absolutist king in a ridiculously royalist Thailand can do pretty much anything. He can be as erratic and as obsessive-compulsive as he wants.

Update 1: The Bangkok Post reports extensively on the announcement:

According to the announcement, Chao Khun Phra Sineenat had opposed the coronation of Her Majesty the Queen after the royal marriage on May 1, 2019. She had been openly against the ceremony, applied pressure to prevent the coronation from taking place and, driven by ambition, had tried ways and means to get His Majesty to appoint her instead, according to the announcement.

“Despite her expectations, the ceremony took place. She also breached royal authority by issuing orders involving Their Majesties’ activities.”

To alleviate the problem and prevent inappropriate actions that could affect the royal institution and the country, His Majesty appointed her as Chao Khun Phra Sineenart Pilaskalayanee, read the announcement.

Since then, His Majesty has kept a close watch on her behaviour and actions and found she did not appreciate his kindness nor behave in a manner worthy of her new position.

She was not satisfied with her new position and tried to act in ways that matched the status of Her Majesty.

“She did not understand royal traditions and acted defiantly towards Their Majesties. She also exploited her new position by issuing orders, pretending they were royal commands. In addition, she ordered people to comply with her personal wishes without accountability, saying she had received royal orders to act on His Majesty’s behalf.”

Her actions were intended to bolster her popularity and benefit herself rather than the public interest. She did all this in the hope that His Majesty would grant her a higher position that would match that of Her Majesty.

The actions of Chao Khun Phra Sineenart disrespected His Majesty, lacked gratitude and failed to recognise royal kindness. They created rifts among palace officials and misunderstanding among the public, as well as undermine the country and the royal institution.

When in favor, now disappeared

Update 2: Now the social media rumors begin to run wild. One says that Sineenat will be in the king’s personal prison for two years. This one is believable as the king has done similar things in the past. She’ll have her head shaved. Another says she will be under house arrest for two years. That too is believable given the way Srirasmi was dealt with (see link above). There is also a rumor connecting the cancellation/postponement of the king’s self-congratulatory boat show, suggesting that there was a palace battle over which woman got to sit next to the king. Some say this was a plot to undo Sineenat. Who knows? Thailand has made itself so ridiculously royalist that many will believe the unbelievable royal announcement while most will believe the rumors because that’s all they get that seems more believable. There’s a chance that the king may have more to say or do on this as, like a gangster, he gets furious when he thinks he’s been disrespected.

Update 3: Normally, on a story such as this, PPT would post a bunch of links to the international media as they discuss this case. The problem is, because of the censorship of all news related to the monarchy, the palace’s extreme secrecy, and the manner in which ridiculously royalist Thailand has been repressed by the regime, the only story is the announcement from the palace. Everything else is guesswork or re-packaging of the palace’s furious announcement, as can be seen in the following examples:

The Independent asks the right question but has no answer, “Thailand royal consort: Why was Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi stripped of her titles?” The Guardian, “King’s sacking of consort highlights power of Thai monarchy” recounts some of the king’s earlier great love for his consort and his trashing of former wives. So does a report in The Irish Times, “A sudden and brutal fall: Thai king’s consort stripped of her titles.” AP helpfully has a video report including when Sineenat was made official consort:

A story at an Australian news site has another interesting question and one that is somewhat easier to answer, although details remain secretive in “Who are the key players at the centre of the Thai royal feud?” The BBC asks the question everyone has: “Thailand royal consort: How did Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi fall from grace?” It has a nice and full royal family tree, including the exiled children. It also quotes Tamara Loos, professor of history and Thai studies at Cornell University, who  says:

… the king is sending a message that goes beyond just falling out with his mistress.

“The king is sending a signal that he can’t be touched and that once you’re out of favour with him, you have no control over your destiny.

“Each move of his, whether economic, military or familial, reveals his unfettered abuse of power,” she adds.

Yes on the latter, but he’s been furious before with wives, long before he was king. The message then was of rants and a childlike desire to have what he wants, when he wants it.

For all the pictures and video of the king’s misdemeanors and erratic behavior, try The Daily Mail: “Thai king, 67, strips his 34-year-old concubine of all royal titles over her ‘disloyalty to the crown’ and ‘misbehavior’ – less than three months after she knelt at his feet in bizarre ceremony.” And, finally, The Economist has this, under the sub-header “Beauty and the Beast”:

INGRATITUDE, MISBEHAVIOUR and disloyalty. These were among the failings of Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi detailed in a scathing royal statement on October 21st. Apparently the mistress of King Maha Vajiralongkorn wanted to “elevate herself to the same state as the queen”. The former army nurse also dared to issue commands and disobeyed her superiors. She has been stripped of all titles and honours. At one level, Ms Sineenat’s sudden fall from grace is stunning; it was only in July, on the king’s birthday, that he made her Thailand’s first officially recognised royal mistress in almost a century. At another, it is typical. The king has frequent, dramatic romantic bust-ups, with dire consequences for the women concerned.

The designation of a “royal noble consort” shocked Thailand. The elaborate ceremony saw Ms Sineenat prostrate herself before the king and Queen Suthida Tidjai, a former flight attendant whom he married in May. The silk and jewels on display were a far cry from the crop tops and fake tattoos that king and consort had been snapped wearing before. More official photographs of Ms Sineenat in camouflage and in cockpits appeared in August. The website hosting them crashed as curious Thais flocked to it.

Queen Suthida is the king’s fourth wife. He divorced and humiliated his first, a Thai princess who bore him a daughter. He has disowned four of his five children with his second wife, an actress, who fled abroad. And he imprisoned the parents and brothers of his third wife, who has disappeared from sight after he divorced her. Their son remains with his father. These dealings pass without comment in Thailand. The king supposedly sits above politics.

In any case, no one dares to criticise the king’s viciousness or caprice. Successive governments have long fostered public adulation of the monarchy—an easier task under the king’s mild-mannered father, Bhumibol Adulyadej. Since Vajiralongkorn came to the throne three years ago, he has exploited this reverence to demand sweeping formal powers. In 2017 he insisted the constitution be changed to make it easier for him to live abroad (as he does, in Germany) without appointing a regent, even though Thai voters had already approved the text in a referendum. Last year he took personal ownership of the Crown Property Bureau, an agency which has managed royal land and investments for decades. Its holdings are thought to be worth more than $40bn. This month the government issued an emergency decree transferring command of two army units directly to King Vajiralongkorn.

Thailand’s harsh lèse-majesté law curbs discussion of these manoeuvres. It promises between three and 15 years in prison for insulting “the King, the Queen, the Heir-apparent or the Regent”. Yet it has not deterred recent grumbling on social media over traffic jams made worse by royal motorcades. Nor did it seem to scare those who wrote about Ms Sineenat’s downfall. The hashtag #SaveKoy began trending, Koy being a nickname for the disgraced mistress. And despite the fulminations of the royal statement, every Thai knows that no one can beat the king himself for ingratitude, misbehaviour and disloyalty.

Update 4: The purge of all those associated with Sineenat has been quick. This is a pattern, with the king accusing people of using their royal proximity for personal gain. Interestingly, Khaosod observes:

The ex-consort Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi has not been seen in public since the announcement. It is also unclear whether His Majesty the King would rescind her royally bestowed surname.





Making the neo-feudal royal family

27 08 2019

It is said that the king long ago claimed that his royal family would be more like feudal royal families of the 19th century.

That may apply to the structure of the family – a queen and several concubines, each ranked and perhaps rising to queen as well – but the publicity associated with official senior concubine Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi looks more like a Hello magazine approach to royalty. “Celebrating” neo-feudalism in this manner is likely a means to promote the king’s popularity and to embed neo-feudalism.

So it is that the official tract about her is very … well … royal. The Bangkok Post has it as follows:

The King bestowed the title of Chao Khun Phra Sineenart Pilaskalayanee on Maj Gen Thanpuying Sineenart Wongvajirapakdi on July 28.

Born on Jan 26, 1985, in the northern province of Nan, she received her primary education at Rajapiyorasa Yupparachanusorn School in Nan’s Tha Wang Pha district before completing her secondary education at Thawangphapittayakhom School in the same district.

In 2008, she obtained a bachelor’s degree in nursing science from the Royal Thai Army Nursing College.

She went on to take several military training courses, graduating in jungle warfare in 2015 and a course offered by the army’s Command and General Staff College in 2017. Meanwhile she completed the Special Warfare School’s airborne training programme in 2015 and then the Marine Corps School airborne programme in 2017.

She graduated from the Royal Thai Air Force’s Flying Training School, and also joined the private pilot licence programme at the Jesenwang flying school [maybe this one] in Germany.

She has been serving as His Majesty the King’s bodyguard since 2017.

Presumably his wife – the most recent one – has agreed to this arrangement or must be accepting of it in the neo-feudal palace.

The photos that have been released seem rather more in the Hello style where the new rich and royalty rub shoulders across the pages, mixing the trashy, the feudal and the rich and sometimes a mix of all in the same story. One of the points of Hello-like publications is to make the fabulously rich seem less remote and even less feudal. The Thai-language version of Hello seems to also fit this model while seemingly doing more to emphasize hierarchy.

In making the neo-feudal more acceptable, it is noticed that concubine Sineenat is shown as talented – which royal isn’t? – capable and something of a fit match for the king as athletic, a pilot and a military woman. She is made to appear as a kind of woman copy of the king as they do the same things and dress identically.

Royal Household Bureau via Khaosod

She even fits the scanty clothing model of the king’s perfect woman, which was seen in the lewd video of him and former third wife, Srirasmi and then in the odd skimpy clothing paraded several times in Germany. In the most recent photos, Sineenat is shown as skimpily dressed while piloting a light aircraft.

Clipped from Reuters report

In other photos of her as military woman, she’s uniformed, but we don’t imagine that perfect makeup and diamond earrings are standard for the military.

While a Reuters report states that these were “unusually candid pictures,” but it is clear that the unusual (for the last almost 100 years) is being made usual. Don’t be surprised if Sineenart is promoted to queen.

The point of all of this seems to be to reinforce Thailand’s turn to neo-feudalism in the 10th reign.





With 3 updates: Constructing the monarch

29 07 2019

As we have pointed out previously, when succession came in 2016, there were some commentators who had been predicting a crisis and an unraveling of the monarchy. Part of the “crisis” had to do with King Vajiralongkorn’s vengeful, thuggish and nasty persona, well known in Thailand. Those characteristics, along with his lust for women and loot, defined his life as crown prince. He was also known to think of himself a military man and imposed “military discipline” on those around him.

Self-crowned

There was no crisis, and King Vajiralongkorn has established his reign and palace in a series of moves that were marked by a legalism that saw him establish clear personal ownership of royal wealth, clear out those he distrusted or felt insufficiently supine, and establish greater constitutional powers for the throne.

Many international commentators regularly make the trite observation that the current king does not have the same esteem as his long-serving father. This is obvious, but this seems a way of pointing to the king’s checkered past and odd personality.

But, as this year’s king’s birthday demonstrates, the palace propaganda machine is hard at work, concocting an image for the still new king. For all of his personal foibles and the great fear associated with his erratic and narcissistic behavior, for the palace propaganda machine, nothing much has changed and it uses familiar and tried and true methods.

For example, he is now “our father,” just as his father was, continuing the paternalism that marks monarchy and which is, when required, used politically.

Yesterday, the newspapers were drenched in palace propaganda. In propaganda, that which is false and concocted can become “truth” if repeated often enough. And there’s plenty of that in the invention of Vajiralongkorn’s image. We won’t go through it all as there simply too much.

One example is the creation of the king as “sportsman.” Of course, this links to his father’s image, based on his making and sailing in tiny yachts for a time in the 1960s. Vajiralongkorn, who once played some football with minions and who, late in life, took up cycling. That, as far as the propagandists are concerned, makes the king “majestic in sports.” This concocted story will be repeated year after year and people will come to accept it and perhaps believe it.

The other thing to note in the current flood of propaganda that constructs the monarch is the king as military man. His father took on this persona in the 1960s and 1970s, but he was not military trained. The new king is, and is proud of this.

The propagandists say the king has “specialises in military affairs, thanks to his illustrious military background.” They mangle politics with claims that “Thailand is a democratic country with the King as the head of state and for a large part of the nation’s history, the head of the armed forces as well.”

The politics of this – in a country dominated by military politicians – is emphasized:

Thai soldiers hold His Majesty in high regard and are ready to give up their lives for his cause because there is no higher honour for a Thai soldier than to serve the country, people and the King.

We may be forgetful, but we do not recall these claims being made for his father. In an era of military and military-backed government, an armed forces drawn ever closer to the king means a more interventionist king. It also means that the military and bureaucracy are those at the top of the political heap and are ever more closely intertwined with the throne.

We have previously posted on the Jit Arsa 904 “volunteers” that have been created as a force for the king and to burnish and propagandize his image. A couple of the “tributes” to the king play up this group. Such activities have multiple winners, with the king seen as a great man and the “volunteers” getting reflected merit. But, another of the stories reveals – we don’t recall this in past reporting – that the Jit Arsa scheme is a military operation. It states:

The Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc) serves as the coordinator of the project. It has set up a regional coordination centre in each of the four regions: the Central Plains, Northeast, North and South.

Given ISOC’s political role, taking over from the junta, and its history of political destabilization, surveillance, repression and murder for various military regimes and for the military itself, the overt linking to the throne is cause for considerable concern.

Update 1: As if there hadn’t been a succession, the king’s birthday message reflected his father’s mantra of “prosperity” flowing from doing one’s “duty.” The king was only addressing the already prosperous – “royal family members as well as senior officials led by the parliament president, prime minister and the Supreme Court president” – but the message is carefully relayed to the hoi polloi. The report also recounts that the king further elevated his first daughter, changing her royal title from the relatively undistinguished Her Royal Highness Princess Bajrakitiyabha Narendiradebyavati to the breathtaking Her Royal Highness Princess Bajrakitiyabha Narendiradebyavati Krom Luang Ratchasarinee Siripatchara Maha Watchara Ratchathida. Tucked into the end of the report is the news that the king also “granted Maj Gen Thanpuying Sineenart Wongvajirapakdi the title of Chao Khun Phra Sineenart Pilaskalayanee.” That’s his favored consort.

Update 2: The regime gave the king a very expensive birthday present. Reuters reports that the king “will be exempt from tax on some of his land property…”. It wasn’t that long ago that there was some fanfare when the Crown Property Bureau lost its tax-free status as its assets came under the king’s direct ownership. However, a new announcement now says “some of the king’s lands and establishments will now be exempt from tax…”.

Lands and establishments that are “used in state affairs, royal affairs, or used by agencies under the king” will be exempt as will properties “used in other affairs by the king or members of the royal family, for public interests, or used as religious places. Royal properties that “do not fit the above descriptions” will also be tax exempt for those “… parts that are used for non-profit purposes…”. Millions and perhaps billions will be kept in the royal pocket.

Update 3: Some time ago the then crown prince let it be known that he wanted to be a more “traditional” king. Since Vajiralongkorn has been king he’s been realizing that ambition, grabbing land and making royal wealth more obviously his, wringing increased powers from the junta and gaining command over thousands of troops and police. Now he’s gone a step further. When we mentioned above that he gave a title to his favorite consort, this act was more significant than we thought.

Khaosod reports that the title bestowed is “Royal Noble Consort,” making Sineenat the first official consort taken by a king since King Chulalongkorn Vajiravudh. That the event was televised, with the king anointing her while seated with the queen tells Thais that neo-feudalism is upon them.

Sineenat also received a bunch of royal decorations: “The Most Illustrious Order of Chula Chom Klao, 1st Class; The Most Exalted Order of the White Elephant, Special Class; The Most Noble Order of the Crown of Thailand, Special Class; and Rattanaporn Medal, First Class.”





Funeral, significant others and the world’s gaze

28 10 2017

The Bangkok Post has one of those “maintain the royal myths” stories headed “World grieves in sympathy with sorrowful Thais.” The implication being that the “world” grieved for the dead king. Reading the story, it becomes clear that it is about Thai officials and Thais overseas remembering him, with the latter getting lots of prodding from the former.

It is true that some of the world’s media had some interesting spreads on the funeral. One striking set of pictures appears at The Daily Mail, one of the world’s most read news websites. While the salacious and strange are its standard fare, it doesn’t ignore a good story. And it found one in the funeral.

In an earlier post, PPT mentioned that some of the king’s concubines, in full military kit, were front and center at the ceremony. The Daily Mail noticed as well and had this long headline:

Thailand’s colourful new King brought ‘his mistress AND his former air stewardess wife’ to his father’s lavish cremation ceremony with both marching in bearskin hats

This is followed by several photos. This is snipped from one of these:

The caption states: “King Maha [Vajiralongkorn]’s alleged lover Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi screams an order as she takes part, marching in a military uniform…”.

Other significant points:
  • King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s wife Suthida Tidjai and his alleged lover Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi seen at service
  • Both women wearing military dress, with Tidjai in uniform of general and Wongvajirapakdi in that of colonel
  • Tidjai was never confirmed as wife of King Maha but was given honorific titles that imply they were married
  • She was spotted with the King boarding a plane while the monarch wore a crop top and carried a small dog…

Of course, the German fake tattoo-crop top photos get another run.

On the king, the paper observed:

The 65-year-old father-of-seven is known for his eyebrow-raising antics, whether its wearing a skimpy yellow crop top while shopping with a mystery woman, racing around in sports cars or reports of dubious business dealings.

And as his wife Suthida Tidjai marched alongside him in the procession, followed by his alleged lover Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi, it appeared his ascension to the throne would not be curbing his old habits.

The story goes on to assess the king and his troubled past, with a picture from the famous video of a near naked Princess SrirasmiShe’s the wife ditched in 2014 and held under house arrest and her family jailed since then.

Not all the details are quite right, but the article’s drift is clear when writing of the king:

… a father-of-seven with three failed marriages, a love of fast jets and a reputation for having an explosive temper….

The King was described by one royal biographer as ‘a man prone to violence, fast cars and dubious business deals’.

Even Fu Fu gets a mention in this example of the rest of the world’s jaundiced view of the king and his court.