Royals bringing themselves undone

10 01 2020

As the “crisis” of the British monarchy hits the headlines and the actions of a couple of self-righteous twats are criticized, The Straits Times begins a story on social media criticism of members of the royal family saying, “No longer content to just whisper in private settings their views on the monarchy, Thais are now openly discussing, and at times criticising, the royal family despite harsh laws.”

The story is built around the recent activity criticizing shutdowns of shopping centers, whole islands and many streets in order to facilitate the Hello magazine-style lifestyle of the royals.

As the “authorities closely monitoring Facebook, more people in Thailand … are venting via tweets, while hiding behind fake names and photos…”.

From Wikipedia

The most recent incident was criticism of the king’s pampered and vain daughter Princess Sirivannavari’s new year jaunt with rich friends to the south for a bit of partying and sightseeing. Trouble was that no one else was permitted in the same areas – on land or sea – as “the authorities closed off parts of the popular southern islands…”. Even fisherman were ordered to go elsewhere or stay in harbor. The result was the “#IslandsShutdown hashtag was used about 382,000 times as of Jan 1 but has since been repeated more than a million times.”

An earlier hashtag “#RoyalMotorcade became the top trending hashtag on Twitter in October with over 250,000 retweets” as netizens piled on criticism over road and shopping center closures to satisfy the fabulously wealthy royals who seem oblivious to the extent of their privilege and the trouble this causes for hundreds of thousands of people.

The criticism is considered “unprecedented,” which is not quite accurate, but Soraj Hongladarom, a philosophy professor at Chulalongkorn University is quoted as saying this represents a “macro-level structural change of Thai society which has already been set in motion” as attitudes to the monarchy change under the grasping reign of King Vajiralongkorn.

In fact, though, the most recent bouts of outspoken criticism of the monarchy have their origins in King Bhumibol’s support of military dictatorship and especially of the 2006 coup and then the brutal crushing of the red shirt rebellion by royalist military leaders, most of whom have run the government since the 2014 military coup.

It looks very much like the current king’s own behavior is abominable as he jets about, using taxpayer money to spend most of his time away from Thailand. He has that in common with Prince Harry who also seems uncomfortable in his own country.





Princess on tour

10 04 2014

We are taking bets that Democrat Party loudmouth Mallika Boonmetrakul is not going to be charged with lese majeste. Of course,  no one should be charged with lese majeste, but this loudmouth has often called for others to be charged under the draconian law. In addition, the royalist dolts at the Democrat Party have been ranting in unison with others about lese majeste in recent days. So it would be some kind of poetic justice of the one standard variety if Mallika, so often struck down by foot-in-mouth syndrome, was actually hauled over some lese majeste coals for a grievous attack on a royal.

Yes, we know that Article 112 does not apply to lesser royals, but that has never stopped the toady Democrat Party from screaming about lese majeste when lesser royals are “insulted,” usually with the truth.

Mallika

Mallika

Why are we ranting?  According to Khaosod, the “ruling Pheu Thai Party has lashed out at a deputy spokeswoman of the Democrat Party who falsely accused Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra of attempting to flee the country.” It adds:

In a Facebook post – which has now been deleted – Ms.  Mallika Boonmetrakul published a photograph showing rows of baggage and boxes at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, and alleged that the baggage may have belonged to Ms. Yingluck who is attempting to flee Thailand amid the ongoing political crisis.

Nothing lese majeste there you say! Certainly not. Mallika was just insulting Yingluck and the doubtful intelligence of those who would read her Facebook page. Those “fans” didn’t pause to consider if this claim could be true, but “commentators also posted comments criticising the owner of the baggage for displaying such apparent luxury and unnecessary waste of taxpayers’ money.”

The problem was that the expensive bags and tons of them at that actually “belongs to Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana, who was flying to a fashion event in London.”

From Wikipedia

From Wikipedia

Of course, neither Mallika nor these dopey “commentators” then turned their attention to the “apparent luxury and unnecessary waste of taxpayers’ money” involved when a minor princess traipses around the world in a “career” that is just one on a list of the rich kid’s bucket list of “great” things she will be “great” at. She certainly seems to be great at spending the taxpayer’s money.

The Puea Thai Party didn’t call for lese majeste to be used, but the party did urge that wimpy Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva “take disciplinary action against Ms. Mallika and make her take responsibility for her dissemination of false information.”

Perhaps Mallika should be taken to the court of double standards for her bollocking of Yingluck as a leech on society while refusing to criticize a minor princess for the same “crime.”





The monarchy as a divisive issue

24 03 2012

PPT is late to this story that appeared at Prachatai. The story there is reasonably easy to follow, with some interesting pictures.

In short, back in January, an event called ‘Freedom Suspended’ was proposed for 18 March by a group of writers called Saeng Samnuek at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre. The event was to discuss the issues of lese majeste and the monarchy. That the BACC approved this is a surprise, but they did, until panic set in five days before the event. The BACC director mumbled that the “event was not permitted, saying that the centre was supposed to be a space free from any conflicts whatsoever.”

Interestingly, the director apparently thinks that the monarchy is now one of those divisive issues in Thai society that can lead to violence! That’s quite a change from all the “highly revered” stuff. The director opined:

Sometimes there are some sensitive issues which might lead to violence. So the centre should be reserved for art and cultural activities by diverse groups of people….

As long as it isn’t about diverse views on the divisive monarchy.

Those thrown out tried to hold the event at Chulalongkorn University but couldn’t and eventually held it at the 14 October Memorial. They also demonstrated at the BACC – see the pictures at Prachatai.

Long-time readers of PPT might recall that we twice posted in 2009 on the BACC. The first post had background on the Centre and conflict over its control. Generally the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration has held and pulled the strings. The BACC’s first official exhibit was of the pedestrian snaps by Princess Sirindhorn. As we said back then, the photos were of no great worth as art, but royals do occupy a particular place in opening things and are promoted as artistic, even if the work they produce is rather ordinary and sometimes banal.

This exhibit was soon followed by more banal royalist trivia. An exhibition for the queen’s birthday was called “Virtues of the Kingdom” and occupied every single one of the Centre’s nine floors of display space. The “art” displayed was hackneyed royalism.

The second post showed how the royalist suffocation of art had grown depressingly more banal as the BACC promoted talentless royal “art.”  Supposedly polymath princess Sirivannavari Nariratana was portrayed as a designer and art talent at a BACC that was overflowing with displays of royal dross.

We guess royal “art” is not divisive because most people recognize it as simply propaganda and posterior polishing.





Palace and floods

16 11 2011

Our fellow bloggers over at New Mandala have a post up titled The princess and the FROC that we could swear began life as The Monarchy Strike Back. It is something of a storm in a teacup in the sense that the post is about a royal foundation (whose namesake is off in India) and the royalist university putting their moniker of donated goods that they are sending out to flood victims.

As we should all know, anyone – Army, every royal with an insignia, Navy, Red Bull, CP, to name just a few – can put their name all over public and private goods and send them out to flood victims. Only one source is taboo, and that seems to be the point of the post.

There are lots of royal foundations now mentioned as helping out. It is important to remember that much of the funding for these foundations is from public donations and from donated taxpayer funds. It is the royal foundation gets the credit for its aid.

The originally slow and seemingly mean response from the palace has been very quickly ramped up as the floods have moved into the politically sensitive Bangkok area. The royals are now quite active.

Over at 2Bangkok.com, there is a post titled Visiting Flood Victims that has Prince Vajiralongkorn and wife wandering “out to the front gate of their Taweewattana Palace to visit a flood-relief unit before going on to visit flood victims in Bangkok’s Taweewattana and Bang Khae districts and Nakhon Pathom province.” The palace seems a dry island in a sea of flooding. The prince has been seen delivering the usual royal relief bags in some places and his underlings have been doing the same in his name.

Princesses Chulabhorn and Sirindhorn have been shown doing similar royal bag allocations. Once princess Ubolratana is not seen but her insignia bags have also been doled out. The younger Sirivannavari Nariratana is in trackies and in Indonesia being (repeatedly) shown supporting Thai athletes at the SEA Games.

It may be coincidence, but some of the royal bag allocations seem to have been targeted at areas considered to be challenging for the government’s flood control approach or where criticisms of the government have been made.

One of the odder things about the royal response has been the appearance of the king yesterday, along with Sirindhorn. The Bangkok Post print edition has a photo of the chipper-looking king meeting at the riverside with his daughter to “talk about the floods.” On television in the regular royal news, while in a wheelchair, it has to be said that the king looked quite well.

Of course, this raises a question. Just a few days ago Princess Chulabhorn had the king collapsed unconscious and losing 800cc of blood in internal bleeding. Is it possible that he could be looking so well if he’d really been through such a seemingly dangerous health event? Or is she simply prone to exaggeration for nefarious reasons? And, given Chulabhorn’s several political interventions in recent months, we are reminded that we haven’t seen the queen much in recent days.





Princesses flaunt and fight at festival for the idle rich

6 10 2011

This story popped up in PPT’s inbox today and we guessed that reader might find it amusing and more.

The headline and sub-header at The Telegraph is:

Clash of the front-row Princesses at Paris Fashion Week

Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana of Thailand was unceremoniously snubbed by Princess Beatrice at the Elie Saab show.

From The Telegraph

The story begins:

It is a country where insulting the King is a crime that can land you in jail, so perhaps the Thai princess who approached Princess Beatrice [PPT: the pop-eyed one in the picture to the right, known for wearing silly hats when attending other idle rich events] at Paris Fashion Week was not expecting such a firm rebuttal.

However, when Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana approached the fellow royal she was unceremoniously stopped by a close protection officer.

To the surprise of the fashionistas lining the front row, after the 24-year-old Thai explained herself but was told by Beatrice’s guard: “She don’t want to meet no princesses. She’s sitting here, not getting up.”

… The Asian princess was not amused and was seen to turn on her heel, saying: “Is that the sort of Princess you’ve got?”

Despite her indignation, the two royals did not meet nor, it is assumed, are they likely to meet happily in future.

From Wikipedia

Sirivannavari is described as “a keen follower of fashion and the Saab show was her fifth at Paris Fashion Week alone.” It adds that she is a “fashion student in Thailand, is also an international standard badminton player [PPT: we disagree] and was recently ranked among the 20 most attractive young royals in the world by Forbes magazine.”

It is recognized that she “has previously shown a collection of her own work in Paris…” but we guess the mention of student means the writer thinks she’s not really up to the mark in the fashion world. Still, it is worth noting that the fabulously wealthy with time on their hands can tiff while hanging out with other rich and famous people who seem immune from the troubles of the world like unemployment, financial crisis and so on.

We hasten to add that the Thai princess may well be on official duties…. oops, maybe not, she’s gone from that embassy. Readers might want to see our earlier fashion post.





Royal lifestyle

29 11 2009

It is that time of the year again. As we get closer to the king’s birthday, the syrupy articles extolling all of the alleged wonders of the king and royalty appear with even greater regularity. PPT doesn’t propose to comment on them in any detail. We will be tempted to make short observations from time to time.

We wonder if the king will appear or be released from hospital for his birthday. This hospitalization has now been for 9-10 weeks and it is almost 3 weeks since the monarch was said to be well on the road to recovery.

The Nation web page on Sunday has 2-3 articles on royalty, and a couple of them were noteworthy. The first was the story of the man who looks after the royal automobile fleet and the second was another polishing up of Sirivannavari Nariratana as a great designer.

The former story rivals the royal toothpaste tube veneration of previous years (if any reader can find a framed picture of the squeezed tube, we’d be pleased to post it). It is the usual smoke and mirrors because the royal family has a huge fleet of expensive vehicles, with the king’s Maybach 62 being one of the world’s most expensive cars, running at about US$3 million if it was purchased in Thailand (in Europe, it runs only to about 400,000 to 500,000 Euros). the comments about Chinese ethnicity and relationship to the monarchy might be interesting for some readers.

The story on Sirivannavari Nariratana is a kind of a follow-up to earlier stories about her designing. Readers will be intrigued to learn that her

new collection for her very own Sirivannavari label were inspired by her travels along the French Riviera, around Cairo and between the Greek island of Santorini and Capri in Italy. Entitled “The World is Not Enough” – at least that seems appropriate to this story – the princess says she created her collection while training with Giorgio Armani. What a life. Armani, Greek island, Capri and the Riviera!





Stifling creative talents

31 10 2009

Kong Rithdee, who writes about interesting movies and provides useful insights regarding popular culture in the Bangkok Post has a column that deserves to be read (Bangkok Post, 31 October 2009: “Creativity that leaves one agog”).

Kong points out that the Democrat Party-led government has earmarked “creative industries” for special attention, even allocating 5 billion baht to develop the necessary human resources and infrastructure. Deputy Commerce Minister Alongkorn Ponlaboot, has trumpeted taht Thailand will become “the hub of creative industry in Asean.” He also makes the astounding claim that this industry will almost double in size, “from 12 to 20% of GNP by 2012.”

Kong says: “Great. It will be a lavish buffet table.” But then he makes an even more important point. This government is doing all it can to stifle creative talent. The really creative people, Kong says, are “continually persecuted by the conservative cultural agencies.” He asks: “how can we foster the creative atmosphere amid primitive-minded censorship? Don’t the two concepts cancel each other out?” PPT joins the chorus in answering affirmitively.

As Kong goes on to explain, “Frighteningly, it’s political content that pricks the censors even more than iced nipples, proving that the concept of critical art is not permitted here in this [supposedly] awesomely creative land.” He provides examples.

The first is a “new  Thai horror film Haunted Universities … [that] was ordered to cut two shots that show a soldier shooting at university students in an event that refers to the Oct 14 uprising, which left the university haunted.”  Why were these scenes ordered cut? It seems the snippers and protectors at the Culture Ministry such scenes obviously threatened “national security.”

The second example is from just a couple of days ago, when the film This Area Is Under Quarantine was banned. The reason for its banning is because it included “footage of the Tak Bai incident.” As Kong points out, “this footage, however, has been available … everywhere in this country for years.”

To explain just how silly all this has become, Kong points out that: “if you’re making a video of your wedding, according to the new law you have to submit it to the ratings board first! Likewise, films made at film schools to be shown for the instructors to grade will, officially, have to go through the censors, too. That’s the most creative idea we’ve heard in this country, and no doubt we’ll lead Southeast Asia in our creative glory very, very soon.”

Kong certainly doesn’t mention it, but when PPT looks at what this government does promote as acceptable art we see royal “art” that is mostly talentless. We have the vainglorious Princess Ubol Ratana being promoted as a movie talent, polymath princess Sirivannavari Nariratana portrayed as a designer and art talent, and the metropolitan art center, called the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, being dominated by displays of royal dross. Only art that is royal or lauds things royal seems to count.

This kind of censorship is silly but it is also extremely dangerous. Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his government have engaged in a broad campaign for the control of the media and in doing so they show themselves to be authoritarian. This is no campaign with a political motive born of the moment; rather, this is at the heart of this government’s political strategy and repression is continually used to prevent broad debate.





More royal brilliance?

21 10 2009

The Nation (21 October 2009: “Free spirit”) says that this story is a “must read.” PPT agrees. It is another excellent example of claimed royal brilliance.

The Nation reports that “HRH Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana [below right] reveals the inspiration behind her international success as a designer” by having an art show at the “Thailand Creative and Design Centre”

Apparently, after topping her class at Chulalongkorn University, this brilliant royal jetted off for “intensive fashion designed [sic.] with Armani in Milan Italy” and she has now jetted back for ” her solo exhibition” entitled “How I see it: Sketches, drawings and paintings.” PPT has commented on royal “art” previously.

From Wikipedia

From Wikipedia

The opening of her exhibition was in the presence of the royal father, Prince Vajiralongkorn and his consort Princess Srirasmi and their son Prince Dipangkorn. The princess’ mother, Yuvadhida Polpraserth, lives in exile in the U.S., with her 4 sons, having been thrown out of Thailand by the prince several years ago. See here as well.

Sirivannavari is a remarkable polymath. As well as being reported in the sycophantic Thai press as a brilliant student, she is said to be a talented designer, She began with Balmain, where the queen has been an avid customer since the 1950s.  She’s had her own Paris shows. She speaks about being a royal and fashion designer here. The princess even has “her own fashion brand Sirivanavar.”

The princess has also been a member of Thailand’s national badminton team and, just like her grandfather, received a gold medal at the SEA Games in 2007, despite the fact that she normally played on a secondary circuit.  On top of all this, Forbes claims she’s hot.

Her latest venture is a “retrospective” – not bad for a young woman who will be 23 in January. It will showcase her “talent on art and design revealing her childhood memory, inspirations on art, design and fashion which reflect her reputation as nowadays emerging designer.” The exhibition will occupy the space for 2 months.

The breathless writers from the Nation tell us that “the exhibition revealed the princess’s most extensive private collection of drawings and paintings, which reflect the Princess’s artistic talent and her world of imagination and how she sees the world.”

Apparently the exhibition occupies several large rooms, each themed and displaying her remarkable insights and talents.

Readers will detect PPT’s cynicism in the above. How could it be otherwise? The creation of royal brilliance has been a central element of royalist propaganda for this reign. Having been remarkably successful in building the reputations of several earlier members of the family – see here – and the king himself, its a fair bet that the same propaganda will work again. Or will it? Has the veil been sufficiently lifted by Handley, the 2006 coup, and the continuing political conflict?

Update: This link is worth reading on the princess as fashion designer.








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