Royalists, academics and palace propaganda

10 01 2021

A couple of days ago we posted on advice to protesters. That advice was well-meaning. At the Asia Times Online, however, academic Michael Nelson of the Asian Governance Foundation, writes the protesters off: “[Gen] Prayut [Chan-ocha] does not seem to be in danger. The royal-military alliance seems to be unassailable…”. He adds: “The protesters, though big on Facebook, also have little backing in the population. And now, the government is getting tough with them…”.

That seems somewhat premature, even if the regime has the “benefit” of a virus uptick and can use the emergency decree to good ill effect. In any case, as far as support is concerned, we recall the Suan Dusit survey in late October that seemed rather supportive of the protesters. Things might have changed given the all out efforts by the regime and palace, but we think the demonstrators have had considerable support.

Another academic is getting into the fray to support the regime and palace. At the regime’s website Thailand Today, pure royalist propaganda by “Prof. Dr. Chartchai Na Chiang Mai” is translated from The Manager Online. For obvious reasons, the regime loves the work of this royalist propagandist who tests the boundaries of the term “academic.” But, then, Chartchai is “an academic at the National Institute of Development Administration or NIDA,” a place that has played an inglorious role in recent politics and where “academic” seems a loose term used to describe a person associated with NIDA.

Royalists ideologues posing as academics have been well rewarded. Chartchai is no different. His rewards have included appointment to the junta’s Constitution Drafting Committee and its National Reform Council. In these positions, he opposed any notion of an elected prime minister and supported the junta’s propaganda activities on its constitution. He has also been a propagandist for “sufficiency economy,” a “theory” lacking much academic credibility but which is religiously promoted as one of the “legacies” of the dead king.

Self-crowned

His latest effort is a doozy. Published in November 2020, “Resolute and Adaptive: The Monarchy in the Modern Age” is a defense of a neo-feudal monarchy. It seeks to dull the calls for reform by claiming that King Vajiralongkorn “has already been reforming the institution of the monarchy to adapt in a modern context, even before protesters were making their demands for reform. Moreover, His Majesty’s approach has always been people-centred.”

This sounds remarkably like the royalist defense made of King Prajadhipok after the 1932 revolution, suggesting he was thinking about granting a constitution before the People’s Party, a claim still made by royalist and lazy historians. In the current epoch, if the king is “reforming,” then the calls for reform are redundant.

Reflecting the good king-bad king narrative, in a remarkable contortion, Chartchai warns that the bad king should not be compared with his father. He declares this “unjust” and “unfair.” The bad king is “preserving those achievements, but to also work with all sectors of the country to extend these accomplishments even further, as he carries his father’s legacy onwards into the future.”

That’s exactly the palace’s propaganda position on Vajiralongkorn.

How has Vajiralongkorn “sought to reform the monarchy”? Readers may be surprised to learn that the king has been “adjusting royal protocol by closing the gap between himself and his subjects, allowing public meetings and photo-taking in a more relaxed manner which differs greatly from past practices.”

Of course, this is recent and the palace’s propaganda response to the demonstrations. Before that, the king worked to distance the palace from people. Not least, the king lived thousands of kilometers from Thailand.

A second reform – again a surprising construction for propaganda purposes – is the “reform of the Crown Property Bureau…”. The king officially taking personal control of all royal wealth and property through new, secretly considered, laws demanded by the king is portrayed as intending to “demystify the once conservative and disorderly system the King himself found to be corrupt. The Bureau is now made more transparent to the public and prevents any further exploitation of the old system.”

There’s been no public discussion of this CPB corruption and nor is there any evidence that there is any transparency at all. In our research, the opposite is true.

We are told that the king’s property acquisitions were also about corruption and “public use.” The examples provided are the “Royal Turf Club of Thailand under the Royal Patronage” and military bases in Bangkok.

The Royal Turf Club was a which was a “gathering place for dubious but influential people” and has been “reclaimed as part of the royal assets is in the process of being developed into a park for public recreational activities.” That “public use” is a recent decision, with the palace responding to criticism. Such plans were never mentioned when the century old racecourse was taken. It is also “revealed” that the military bases that now belong personally to the king will be for public purposes. Really? Other “public places” in the expanded palace precinct have been removed from public use: the zoo, parliament house, and Sanam Luang are but three examples. We can only wait to see what really happens in this now huge palace area.

Chartchai also discusses how “[r]Reform of the Rajabhat University system or the Thai form of teachers’ college, has also slowly and steadily been taking place, with the King’s Privy Counsellor overseeing the progress.”

Now we understand why all the Rajabhats have been showering the queen with honorary doctorates. The idea that this king – who was always a poor student and didn’t graduate from anything – knows anything about education is bizarre. How the king gained control of the 38 Rajabhats is not explained.

What does this mean for the protests? The implication is, like 1932, those calling for reform are misguided. Like his father, the king “is the cultural institution and must remain above politics and under the constitution.” Is he under the constitution when he can have the regime change it on a whim and for personal gain?

Chartchai “explains” that “the monarchy is constantly adjusting itself…”. He goes full-throttle palace propaganda declaring the monarchy a bastion of “independence, cultural traditions, and soul of the nation, is adjusting and fine-tuning itself for the benefit of the people.” As such, Thais should ignore the calls for reform and properly “understand, lend support and cooperation so that the monarchy and Thai people sustainably and happily co-exist.”

For an antidote to this base royalist propaganda, readers might enjoy a recent and amply illustrated story at The Sun, a British tabloid, which recounts most of Vajiralongkorn’s eccentric and erratic activities.





On a few things royal I

5 12 2020

There are a number of royal “stories” that caught our attention today.

The first was a gaggle of stories about the dead king. Of course, 5 December – the dead king’s birthday – was made especially important by palace propaganda and before he became ill, on his birthday eve, the palace would round up the great and the good and the captive audience would sit through the king’s often incoherent ramblings. It would be left to the media to try and interpret the meaning of these sometimes long homilies.

The Bangkok Post outdid most other media that we looked at, with four lengthy propaganda pieces. One was a PR piece about the Bangkok arm of the former junta, the BMA, recalling that the day is also father’s day. That came about after an order from military dictator and double coup leader Sarit Thanarat who made the king’s birthday National Day in 1960. Then there are almost obligatory stories on the late king’s interventions in the nation’s water policy, including his backing of huge dams, sufficiency economy, reproducing all the usual blarney from the world’s richest monarchy, and education, in a country with what is now an awful education system, so bad that its students have revolted.

The passed king is said to have “spent decades trying to combat the twin crises besetting Thailand: droughts and floods,” yet these problems persist and plague the nation every year. Chalearmkiat Kongvichienwat, a deputy director-general for engineering with the Royal Irrigation Department describes the late king as “a great hydrological engineer.” We should recall that the king only had a high school diploma and that his “reputation” as an “engineer” was manufactured by palace propaganda and RID, which gained huge amounts of cash for its projects.

RID observes:

… there are 3,481 royal water projects in which the department is involved. Among them, 3,206 projects are already complete.

They comprise 1,277 projects in the North, 758 in the northeastern region, 498 in the Central region and 673 in the South. These royal projects when completed will provide water to 589,000 households living on 4.90 million rai. The projects can store a total of 6.771 billion cubic metres of water.

Some 87 of the 275 remaining projects are expected to be completed by 2024 and 188 are in the pipeline.

That’s a lot of money. We wonder how many continue to operate and at what cost to environment, locals and taxpayer. The propaganda value for the king and palace was inestimable.

There’s no mention of the dead king’s support for dictators, coups, or the military.

A second story line that is appropriate for today is from Bloomberg at The Japan Times. It is focused on royal wealth: “Thailand’s taboo-breaking demonstrations are about more than the right to criticize the monarchy without fear of going to prison: Protesters want taxpayers to control investments and real estate worth tens of billions of dollars.” It has some of the existing information, but there is some additional information.

On the current king’s PR efforts, a third story line caught our attention. As is usual, there are royal pardons and sentences are cut for thousands of inmates. Also usual is the handing out of bags of charity goods to victims of natural disasters, said to be from the king, and usually accompanied by royal portraits. In this case, it was flood victims in the south. The Army claims that “[m]ore than 300,000 households in 90 districts in 11 southern provinces have been affected by flooding…”. The king “donated 10,000 relief bags to flood victims in the southern province of Nakhon Si Thammarat, where at least 13 people have died in recent flooding.” Clearly, a symbolic effort by the world’s richest king.

Then we saw, at The Nation, a series of photos about a recent royal outing-cum-PR exercise. It has the king and queen, accompanied by Princess Bajrakitiyabha Narendira Debyavati, the Princess Rajasarinisiribajra and Chao Khun Phra Sineenat Bilaskalayani,” attending a religious event for the dead king “at the Royal Plaza in front of Dusit Palace…”. Given all the recent social media attention and some news reports of rifts in the palace, between queen and consort and between princess and consort, we wondered if they didn’t look rather happy together in this photo, suggesting that some of the speculation might be overcooked:

Happy family outing? Clipped from The Nation

Finally, we want to suggest that readers might want to watch a BBC video story about the students and their revolt against the monarchy.





Bolstering monarchy

7 11 2020

The royal family’s younger women, including Queen Suthida, Princesses Bajrakitiyabha and Sirivannavari, and some of the harem, appear to be pushing for a new PR strategy and rebranding of Vajiralongkorn and themselves as celebrities – what might be considered the Hello! strategy. Obviously, this follows the model of royals in some other countries.

Sirivannavari’s photo clipped from Hello!

At the same time, the royalist dinosaurs occupying government seats continue to follow ninth reign strategy. For example, Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan and Interior Minister Gen Anupong Paojinda have “urged provincial governors across the country to help protect the monarchy and prevent fake news.”

During a video conference, Gen Prawit ordered governors “to promote the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy.”

This approach seems unlikely to mesh with the notion of royals-as-celebrities, pioneered by Sirivannavari and (more bizarrely) by big sister Ubolratana.

If we are to believe that Vajiralongkorn – who has recently appeared ill and unsteady – is to go down the Hello! celebrity path, then he’d need to also acknowledge that such a rebranding usually goes along with subjection to the constitution, the acceptance of criticism, and the ditching of ninth reign repression and “demi-god” status. So far, the evidence is of some leniency on criticism while also mobilizing fascist yellow shirts, which would seem to mitigate against a celebrity status.





Piling it high

29 09 2020

In a recent post, PPT observed that the country’s Defense Council was almost entirely focused on monarchy. Defense now means “protecting” the monarchy, led by an erratic, super-wealthy, egocentric and absent king.

In that post we noted that self-selected prime minister Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha had “instructed the armed forces to also support activities organised by other units in promoting … the King’s work…”. He also “urged government agencies to promote … the King’s royal projects, particularly the applied New Theory Agriculture…”.

It didn’t take long for the propaganda machine to change up a gear, with the Bangkok Post placing a “story” exactly following Gen Prayuth’s demands.

The “story” reports something called the “Khok Nong Na model” which is promoted as something “new,” even if slavishly claiming to be following the so-called New Theory and the Sufficiency Economy “philosophy” promoted by the dead king.

(For those who have forgotten this bit of palace propaganda, look here, here, and here.)

The Khok Nong Na project is delivered by the largely irrelevant Community Development Department and is being piloted in Phitsanulok, Sukhothai and Kamphaeng Phet. These projects are said to be “[f]inanced by the department’s 2019 budget…”. At least the CDD is truthfully explaining that something attributed to royals is paid for by the taxpayer.

Remarkably, the “ideas” in the Khok Nong Na project are attributed not just to the dead king, but these “ideas” are claimed to have been “further developed by … King … Vajiralongkorn…”. There’s no evidence for this and there’s no track record of Vajiralongkorn ever having had an “idea” that wasn’t self-serving.

In essence, the Khok Nong Na project draws on 1980s notions of “indigenous farming wisdom,” and applies it to “modern-day farming.” By “modern-day,” the CDD seems to be actually talking about big farms, intensive marketing, tourism (!), and farmers taking out loans, practices which were never a part of the dead king’s Sufficiency Economy.

The CDD has big plans. Assuming “success,” it will be “expand[ed] nationwide,” and then become part of a “university that teaches a degree in the New Theory Agriculture and other agricultural concepts developed by King Rama IX.” The Department plans to call it “The University of the King’s Philosophy”, establish campuses nationwide, and will teach about “over 4,000 royally-initiated projects, 40 agricultural concepts and the Khok Nong Na model…”.

The result? “With the Khok Nong Na model, we believe that everyone in society will be happy and the country will prosper.” Further, “the Khok Nong Na model could solve almost all problems related to agriculture in Thailand such as drought and flooding.” Wow! But there’s more: “we will not live in poverty and will live a happy life if we follow the Sufficiency Economy concept.” Fantastical nonsense.

The propaganda result? “The Khok Nong Na model attests to the monarchy’s generosity to share his agricultural concepts and theories based on the principle of self-reliance…”. But there’s more! “What King Rama IX gave us and … King [Vajiralongkorn]’s determination to further develop the late King’s work will benefit humanity, not just Thai people…”.

The cost? Not stated, but it will be funds drained from the taxpayer.

How much more of this royalist buffalo manure can be spread?





With several updates: Royalists, recycling and ratbag rightists

31 08 2020

Watching the ultra-royalist Thai Pakdee group “rally” on Sunday was reminiscent of some of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee events. There was some yellow, some whistles, old head and arm bands, and the white, flag-themed t-shirts all seemed recycled from Suthep Thaugsuban’s efforts to overthrow an elected government and/or provide the political space for a military coup.

Thai PBS reports that mostly aged royalists rallied in support of the absent monarch and the junta’s constitution and to demand strong legal measures against student and pro-democracy activists. It was a full bag of rightist demands, recycled from earlier movements going back to the People’s Alliance for Democracy and the military-backed rightists of earlier decades.

Former Democrat Party member, former Action Coalition for Thailand member, and long-term yellow shirt Warong Dechgitvigrom led the rally, and denied he planned and “confrontation” with rallying students and other pro-democracy groups. He did not say that his assigned task is to rally support from the right and royalists and to provide a potential base for further military-backed intervention, should that be deemed necessary by the powers that watch over him and his ilk.

Like his predecessors, Warong blamed all of Thailand’s “troubles” on “politicians,” accusing them of “plunging Thailand into deeper political divide, separating the old and new generations.”

His claim was that his ragtag ratbags had:

come together to protect the [m]onarchy, to retain the Thai identity, to do away with all forms of monopoly, to attain career equality for all Thai people, through the application of technology, and to enhance national prosperity via a sufficiency economy.

He also called for the “Education Minister and all university rectors” repress the student-based activism by not allowing space for rallies and to stop “lecturers, who may harbor anti-[m]onarchy leanings, from ‘brainwashing’ their students.” In this, he is recycling rightism from the 1970s.

In addition, Thai Pakdee planned to recycle rightist demands on the Japanese Embassy to stop Pavin Chachavalpongpun criticizing the monarchy.

The United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship’s Jatuporn Promphan, who has sounded rather royalist of late, said Thai Pakdee had “an extreme right-wing agenda, similar to a combination of the former Nawaphol, Red Guard and Village Scout groups.” We are not sure how Red Guards get into the mix, but his reference to Thai rightist heritage is apt.

The recycling of rightists and their rhetoric is dangerous, often leading to the unexplained/uninvestigated bashing of regime critics, probably by rightists working with the authorities.

It is dangerous also for regime and monarchy critics who live in exile. Rightist rhetoric gives cover and justification for the several enforced disappearances in Laos and Cambodia. These are very likely black ops by the Thai military operating on orders from the regime and the palace.

These acts of violence have been meant as “warnings” to anti-regime and anti-monarchists, to instill fear and to silence them.

Getting away with abduction, torture and murder in “brother authoritarian” regimes is relatively easily arranged, often a quid pro quo for similar operations by those regimes in Thailand.

Clipped from Thai Alliance for Human Rights website

But it seems that this is not enough. The regime’s panic about anti-monarchy exiles in Japan, the USA and Europe is heightened, probably provoked by recent activism targeting the king in Germany.

The Nation reports on recent efforts to threaten those overseas based critics. Jom Petpradap, a “journalist living in exile in the United States has accused the Thai government of making veiled threats to his life and safety.” He has received a “package sent to him from Thailand [that] contained threatening materials” that made it clear that he is under surveillance and being followed.

Other exiles and outspoken monarchy critic Andrew MacGregor Marshall have reported similar packages and/or stalking.

Rightists in Thailand are also recycling Alt-Right inspired propaganda.

Thisrupt has a limited report on this development, noting that these conspiracy-based “revelations” of “plots” against the right’s Thailand mirror efforts in the 1970s to link student movements to international communism and efforts to overthrow the monarchy.

Something called “Thailand Vision” has been claiming a “plot,” backed by the USA – claimed to be promoting a “color revolution” in Thailand – and funded by Thai and international billionaires and capitalists. Like racists and rightists elsewhere, George Soros is identified as one of the culprit. Soros is remembered by Thai rightists as a culprit in the 1997 economic crisis. But his real “crime” is support for liberal causes.

In an elaborate concoction, Thailand Vision actually recycles claims made in earlier years by a self-exiled American, yellow-shirted conspiracy theorist who has been writing for one of Russia’s propaganda outfit, the New Eastern Outlook, which provides links to a range of alternative media sites, some of them anti-Semitic, others climate change deniers and many libertarian. Some of the co-authors have links to the extreme right in the U.S., including Lyndon LeRouche. and with connections to Alex Jones and much of the anti-imperialist alt-right.

In earlier times, it was Thaksin Shinawatra who was the “culprit” in motivating the international liberal/globalist conspiracy to bring down the monarchy. Now it is Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and international capitalists “behind” NGOs and international “co-conspirators” like the German newspaper Bild (for its tabloid journalism n the king in Germany), Business Insider, PixelHELPER, Freedom House, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and even Netflix!

In Thailand, “co-conspirators” include almost all of the NGOs and other organizations that are not rightist and sufficiently royalist, including the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand, Thai Volunteer Service, Asian Network for Free Elections Foundation (ANFREL), Union for Civil Liberty, Prachatai, 101.world and The Isaan Record.

This might all sound bizarre, but in the recent past, such conspiracy nonsense has gained traction among former leftist yellow shirts like the late Kraisak Choonhavan and the regime/junta.

Recycling propaganda is about promoting notions of “threat” and mobilizing rightist reaction.

Update 1: We missed a Khaosod story about the ultras on Sunday. As well as one rally speaker – the youngest – seeming to incite violence and, later, calling for military dictatorship, coupled with a “Down with Democracy” screech, “speakers dish[ed] out conspiracy theories that implicate the governments of the United States and other Western countries in the ongoing anti-government protests.” Celebrity Hatai Muangboonsri said onstage: “Western powers want us to be divided. They encouraged a mindset that hates the pillars of our country…”. The reaction from the US Embassy was predictable. There’s also a strain of pro-China agitation from the ultras, who have mostly opposed Hong Kong democracy protesters.

Update 2: Two stories at The Nation deserve some attention. The first is about a street sweeper attacked outside the Thai Pakdee rally at the Thai-Japanese Stadium in Din Daeng. He was allegedly beaten up “because he was wearing a red shirt.” The story states: “It is assumed that the guard of Thai Pakdee royalist group may have assumed that Sukhon [the man beaten] had worn red to show he was associated with the anti-coup red-shirt movement.” The second story is a most unconvincing “denial” by Warong. Yellow social media is denigrating the cleaner as a “red buffalo” who got what he deserved as a Thaksin supporter. Fascism is on the march.

Update 3: In another story at The Nation, Student Union of Thailand spokesperson Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul insisted that the only people “behind” the student protests were the students themselves. She was logical in pointing out that the use of social media to raise political awareness among students and the young generation means that the students have a lot of supporters: “It wakes up many people. There are a lot of people who think like us.” She added: “It is human nature that if we know that many people share our views, then we have the courage to speak out … our fear is lessened…”. She added that she doesn’t even know all of the groups who associate themselves with Free People. Unlike Russian-paid trolls and yellow-shirted dolts, she’s brave, smart and appears (rather too) innocent.

Update 4: We added a link to Update 1 and corrected a point there.

Update 5: The Nation reports that Warong has “denied that the 15-year-old who posted a message on Facebook Live encouraging dictatorship was a member of his group.” He declared:  “he is not our member. I don’t know. Go ask him. He’s just a kid”.

Clipped from Khaosod

As the above picture shows, Warong is dissembling. He’s shown pulling a Thai Pakdee shirt over the lad’s yellow shirt. He’s applauded and lauded. Warong is trying to mislead people because he doesn’t want Thai Pakdee portrayed as it really is: an undemocratic, pro-military, pro monarchy mob that promotes the dictatorship.





The tycoons and the regime

29 06 2020

In what looks like one of its regular paid adverts masquerading as news and called “PR story,” the Bangkok Post has an account of Chia Tai, a CP family company. It “reports” a recent “volunteering activity under its ‘Chia Tai Volunteer Project’ corporate social responsibility initiative whereby its staff join forces to make a difference in the community during the crisis.”

We guess this is yet another PR activity associated with Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha’s call to the country’s billionaires for support in responding to the enormous economic downturn associated with the virus crisis. CP has been doing pretty well during the crisis. So have others in the ranks of the giant conglomerates, so the PR seems like a political strategy.

This CP PR exercise involves the distribution of food boxes in communities surrounding Chia Tai Headquarters on Sukhumvit 60. Interestingly, it is said to be “supported by Phrakhanong District Office and Internal Security Operation Command (ISOC)…”.

As part of the embedding of the military in society, ISOC seems to be everywhere.

We can’t say for sure how far the mutual back-scratching between company, military and regime goes, but CP has done pretty darn well, soaking up state funds and helping itself. And there’s probably much more to come.

For example, the Bangkok Post recently reported that the “Industry Ministry is planning 1.9 billion baht in spending to help farmers and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as part of a 10-billion-baht pandemic relief proposal submitted to the National Economic and Social Development Council.”

Farmers, right? Well, not really. Industry Minister Suriya Juangroongruangkit said his ministry wants to “develop the whole agricultural industry from upstream to downstream production…”. The biggest beneficiary is likely to be CP’s Chearavanont family, one of the country’s largest landowners and long pushing for a more industrial-style agriculture.

The latter is being taken up by the regime in yet another virus crisis spend: “projects to cultivate sustainable growth include a 16.05-billion-baht project to develop five million rai covering 5,450 large-scale farms. The aim is to implement more machinery on large-sized farms to increase the value of production by about 11 billion baht a year.” And this is packaged among a bunch of state splurges said to be about promoting the dead king’s trite “New Theory”-cum-sufficiency economy, in the “agriculture sector which will cover a total of 240,000 rai.”

The mantra for sufficiency economy is as meaningless as it has ever been, but it polishes the royal family posterior and allows the regime to trumpet its “loyalty.” The importsant thing seems to be that the tycoons rub the regime’s tummy and the regime scratches the tycoons’ collective back. And, the taxpayer coughs up the loot.





Royals walking backwards

6 05 2020

The state’s propaganda outlet, the National News Bureau of Thailand is doing its best to boost the absent monarch’s profile. In a recent story the royal response to the virus outbreak sound as though it is the former king at work. Back in the days of the 1997 economic crisis, King Bhumibol asked poor Thais to tighten their belts and save the rich though notions of “sufficiency.” It was mostly the middle class who latched onto his notion of “walking backwards into the klong,” developed romantic notions of rural life and then supported yellow-shirted causes into the 2000s and beyond.

This crisis seems to have the royal household struggling for new ideological hooks, so they are falling back on 1950s and 1960s ideas of developing a “model farm project under a Royal Initiative” that is said to provide “agricultural knowledge for local residents” impacted by the virus crisis. Quasi-military “Royal Thai Volunteers” are mobilized to tell the “local residents” what is best for them.

Locals pushed back(wards) Clipped from National News Bureau

Several big shots “presided over the development of the model farm project under the Royal Initiative of … Queen Sirikit … in Angthong province.” First time we’ve heard anything about the Dowager for a while. In the few times she’s been seen in recent years, she seems to be in a semi-vegetative state. Later on in the report King Vajiralongkorn’s name is added to his mum’s, saying they have “provided a model farm project to aid the citizens of the area.”

Trainees made to feel grateful. Clipped from National News Bureau

The virus, it is reported, “has had a wide impact on citizens.” And, as the report rightly says, this is because “[m]any have become unemployed and face a financial crisis.”

The project is said to “provide careers and alleviate the burdens of daily life, by having these citizens learn specialized agricultural methods and be able to adapt them for use in their households, becoming better able to support their families.” Maybe if the king and his military didn’t such the country dry, along with their tycoon buddies, the “trainees” might have had a better life.

The big shots get the glory. Clipped from National News Bureau

In this project, though, it appears the sucking out of the surplus continues as the “villagers become agricultural attendants, the project is able to produce and develop new products for further study and for sale.” Who gets the proceeds is not clear. Who actually pays for the project is equally opaque. We guess it is the taxpayer.

There’s a bunch of similar stories around that we are too bored with to bother commenting further apart from mentioning the Pid Thong Lang Phra Foundation, which is a royal-sponsored initiative that also promotes the sufficiency philosophy and which also tells us that there are now PhD programs in sufficiency economy. That must be one of the least serious PhDs around and would certainly not encourage critical thinking. We had never heard of it but it gives out 300 fellowships a year! Its training a cadre of royalists! We guess soldiers and bureaucrats like it.

All of this activity is meant to make the absent Vajiralongkorn appear less remote, vacant and self-indulgent.





Sufficiency manure

1 05 2020

The regime seems to have plenty of money for supporting palace propaganda, doling out taxpayer-funded equipment that they claim is from the king; that’s standard palace propaganda. They are even promoting a perception that give the impression that the king and queen are actually in the country.

Yet readers will recall that Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha has been pleading for the support of Thailand’s tycoons in the regime’s virus response.

The Bangkok Post reports that two more of the super-rich have agreed to throw in a few million in loose change to be seen to be doing something for what Gen Prayuth calls “Team Thailand,” promoting the notion that “we are all in this together” when this is clearly not the case.

Red Bull’s Chalerm Yoovidhya and Prayudh Mahagitsiri of the PM Group are claimed to be “allocat[ing] multi-million baht budgets to help the newly-established Team Thailand fill the state’s coffers…”.

Party time for Boss (clipped from The Daily Mail)

The report concentrates on the Yoovidhya family’s efforts. (Where is their murderous son?)

As is often the case, the Red Bull moneybags are “donating” to celebrate monarchy and cement their place in the ruling class.

They claim they will “spend 300 million baht to help make Thailand more self-reliant…”. This from a family that manages to buy expensive digs elsewhere. But this is often the double standard that emerges when the wealthy promote the dead king’s “sufficiency economy.”

Sounding like a throwback to the 1997 economic crisis response, the Yoovidhya clan wants “to help get the economy back on its feet” through a “self-reliance for the nation project for the next three years.” The family states: “We want to support and mentor people who want to adopt the ‘sufficiency economy’ approach as their new path to life…”.

It seems the clan hasn’t got a new idea in its collective head so it falls back on royalist nonsense from more than two decades ago. They go on to state that their “project” will see “the family … turn part of its land into a learning centre to equip people with a self-reliant attitude” and “build food security for the nation…”.

We hadn’t noticed that Thailand’s food security had become an issue from the current virus crisis. Presumably “their land” will be priced in and that they will still want “a self-reliant attitude” to include buying Red bull.





Tycoon panic

23 03 2020

Thailand’s Sino-Thai tycoons, many of them in retail and basic consumer goods, have probably done better than most as the virus crisis bites.

However, their panic looks class-based as they worry about “disunity,” with the headline, “Tycoons urge unity amid chaos.”

The story has them “urging members of the business community to join hands with the government in cushioning the economic impact of the Covid-19 outbreak…”.

Thai Chamber of Commerce chairman Kalin Sarasin says that tycoons “including Charoen Pokphand Group’s Dhanin Chearavanont, Singha Corporation’s Santi Bhirombhakdi, Saha Pathanapibul’s Boonchai Chokwatana, and TCC Group’s Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi…” have agreed on measures to “help soften the blow of the coronavirus outbreak.”

As far as we can tell, they are most interested in PR.

Will they do anything to “strengthen… the competitiveness of SMEs, enhanc[e]… workers’ skills and bridg[e]… income gaps”? We doubt it. They’ve done next to nothing for decades in these areas as their own empires have expanded and they have become monumentally rich.

In any case, the Chamber seems to want government to do the work. As Kalin said, “TCC’s suggestions are always well accepted by the government.”

And, they reiterated the usual blarney: “Kalin said these tycoons also praised the TCC’s efforts in supporting the government’s Pracharath scheme, promoting good governance and adopting the sufficiency economic philosophy.”

In other words, the tycoons are protecting their interests and ideologically barricading themselves.





Sufficiency economy failure

7 12 2019

The dead king’s use of “sufficiency economy” was ideological. It was meant to convince poor Thais to be satisfied with their lot and not to be concerned about the huge monopolies that dominated the economy, sucking the nation’s wealth into the bulging pockets of Sino-Thai tycoons. It was also meant to divert attention from the monarchy’s stupendous wealth.

A Chumphon Cabana Resort and Diving Centre, made famous for allegedly following the tenets of sufficiency economy, has collapsed, only being “saved” by donations from “thousands of supporters” who could not bear to see a false icon be proven a total failure. Another part of the “saving” had to do with nationalist nonsense that might have seen “foreigners” buy the failed beach property.

The resort “needed 130 million baht to survive…”. This is not the first time the resort has failed after taking huge loans, but the previous “recovery” positioned the resort as a sufficiency economy icon.

The earlier debt was never repaid. Now supporters are paying for it and “to improve the grounds of Chumphon Cabana at  a cost of around 50 million baht, and another 5 million will be set aside to help cover daily operating costs.”

So much for sufficiency.