On coronation III

5 05 2019

So the king has crowned himself and the newspapers and local media are full of concocted stories and news about the him and his many “achievements.” Nothing critical, nothing really truthful and no body count.

A couple of days ago we mentioned Srirasmi’s ousting from the palace when the prince tired of her and how nasty and vicious it was. We added that she was in imposed seclusion and that several members of her family have served jail terms.

The German newspaper Bild has taken up her situation and has released some photos that confirm rumors that have been around for more than a year, that have her under house arrest and treated so badly that it is almost unimaginable. Yet, as some have said, she’s lucky to be alive, and we guess her former spouse thinks that way as well. The Bild story is behind a paywall.There’s also a short Facebook post by the newspaper which states:

Thailand has a new king – and this one is unceremoniously himself as part of a solemn ceremony in the great palace of the capital of Bangkok. As magnificent as the coronation was, the stories of the disgraced ex-wife: Srirasmi … is supposed to be under house arrest. What this one should look like, show these pictures.

Thanks to Andrew MacGreogor Marshall at his Facebook page, we have some of the photos of her torment.

Her house is made as unpleasant as possible. And, she’s not permitted to use an indoor bathroom.

The sign tells her she has to now learn the meaning of “sufficiency.” It seems the king can even channel his father to increase her torment.

Sufficient nonsense

16 10 2013

Sanitsuda Ekachai is an editor at the Bangkok Post specializing in Buddhist issues and rural development and NGOs material. We were somewhat surprised that she has been beating the sufficiency economy drum again.

PPT had thought that the sufficiency economy discourse had died an appropriate death when it was linked with the geriatric royalist regime that the 2006 coup put in place. After all, the royalist Democrat Party gave it little attention, except in ideological terms, when they were hoisted to power by military and palace. So while it was put in development plans – does anyone look at these any more? – and posterior polishing conferences were organized bringing together well-paid luminaries with no particular knowledge of this “philosophy,” it seemed, well, forgotten.

While Sanitsuda knows it is an “empty mantra,” she seems to think that it needs resurrection in the fight against rapacious capitalists.Now which is the largest capitalist conglomerate in Thailand? Oh, yes, the (never sufficiency) monarchy…. Yet it was this line that got our attention:

The sufficiency economy concept initiated by His Majesty the King is lauded worldwide because it addresses the much-needed moral dimension of development and capitalism.

Lauded the world over? Really? We did a bit of a search, and apart from Thai royal pandering sites, there isn’t much. The best of these we saw was at a UNESCO site, where this was the blurb:

UNESCO Future Lecture – Towards a Sufficiency Economy: a New Ethical Paradigm for Sustainability: In Homage to the Philosophy on “Sufficiency Economy” by His Majesty the King Bhumibol Adulyadej

All of this event was Thai officials using taxpayer funds to promote the monarchy. A bit of an expensive yawn. There are some blogs that link to the notion and competing claims for ownership of the idea, For example,

Samuel Alexander is a founder of the Simplicity Institute, a group … making some of the most interesting contributions to the post-growth debate at the moment. In particular, their work has focused on the ‘sufficiency economy’….

Alexander is a new kid on the sufficiency/simplicity block, but there’s little evidence that  the king’s idea – if it was his – is being lauded worldwide.

The question is: why make this stuff up and publish it in a newspaper? To be honest, we can’t think of a single reason why a serious journalist would do this.

Royalist fundamentalism

27 02 2012

Sumet Tantivejkul spent a good part of his working life at the National Economic and Social Development Board, the body responsible for setting the direction of the Thai economy since the early 1960s. Following that, he became a sidekick for the king, as  secretary-general of the Chaipattana Foundation.

In recent years, Sumet has been a staunch defender of his boss, sometimes speaking of the king as if he considered him saintly or god-like. He has been highly defensive of the king and his great wealth, lambasting “foreigners” for writing of the Crown Property Bureau and claiming that Thais should ignore this news as it just messed up their brains. In other words, critical knowledge of the monarchy wasn’t necessary, and Thais just had to believe the king and love him. More recently, Sumet has been outspoken against the reform of the lese majeste law. In fact, his opposition is a pretty good indication of palace thinking on the law: they want it.

Sumet was one of the first to speak publicly of a great fear amongst royalists that red shirts were about bringing down the monarchy. In fact that speech in 2009, is essentially recycled in a report at the Bangkok Post.

In this most recent report, he is reported as saying that “Thai people have to study His Majesty the King’s teachings and ideas and not just express their love for him…”.  He goes on:

We see the King but we don’t often look at him. We want to see him because he brings us happiness but we have never asked ourselves about all the things he has done.

This is another royalist claim that the people don’t appreciate the “gift” they have and do not heed him as they should heed a real saint. Nor do they understand his work and thinking well enough. It is royalist fundamentalism.

Like a fundamentalist religious believer, Sumet admonishes the silly children: “We would not be suffering today if we followed his ideas, trust me…”.

Sumet claimed the king “fully understood the social landscape of the country,” and like a tent preacher, claimed “[p]eople will find peace and be free from suffering if they follow the King’s virtues. Nothing is too difficult to do if our intention is strong…”. Hallelujah.

Like other yellow-hued speakers of recent days, Sumet, once a planner of Thailand’s rapid industrialization, now criticizes the “liberal system” for its rampant consumptionism. He thinks “excessive consumption” is a cause of global crises. Like the king, he talks of “greed.” Remember that this is a man who is taken about in light yellow luxury cars and serves a monarchy that has $37 billion and more in its coffers and takes hundreds of millions a year from the public purse. He’s talking about “greed.”

The king has all answers, because like a Buddha incarnate, he “teaches dharma, which is to be moderate. Each individual, organisation and country has to know one’s own ability or strength and find the middle path for oneself.” In other words, sufficiency economy under the sufficiency monarchy that has used its fabulous wealth “moderately.”

Sumet explains that: “No matter how wealthy we are, we cannot carry on if we don’t have ethics. It’s not important whether you’re rich or not but what is important is to ensure that every baht spent will bring about benefits and happiness…”. See, the sufficiency monarchy exists! And, of course, the sufficiency monarchy cannot be corrupt like all the plebeians.

The monarchy will save all. Believing in the king is presented as the Thai version of salvation. The saving of Thailand is in truly understanding the monarchy. This is royalist fundamentalism.

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