Imprisoned

Almost a week ago, Pavin Chachavalpongpun had an op-ed at The Japan Times. In it, he stated:

Inside the sprawling Dhaveevatthana Palace in Bangkok is a prison built to lock up those betraying the trust of the new Thai king, Vajiralongkorn. On March 27, 2012, during the Yingluck Shinawatra administration, the Ministry of Justice issued an order regarding the construction of a prison within Dhaveevatthana Palace on a 60-sq.-meter plot of land. Named Buddha Monthon Temporary Prison, it is under the authority of the Klong Prem Central Prison.

Dhaveevatthana Palace or Residence, in Bangkok’s west, was one of Vajiralongkorn’s residences, favored until he ditched and demeaned his former consort, then Princess Srirasmi.

Pavin had mentioned this prison previously. He makes several claims about the prison and how the royal residence is used.

What is more interesting is the response of Thailand’s ambassador in Japan, in a letter to The Japan Times. It is interesting because it says little other than “we object.” Here it is, as published:

Regarding the column by Pavin Chachavalpongpun in the June 3 edition, while Thailand respects freedom of opinion and expression, this right has to be exercised responsibly in order to protect the rights and reputation of others.

In the article, several unsubstantiated claims were made by Chachavalpongpun, who, to the best of my knowledge, has never been to the palace in question.

As Chachavalpongpun himself acknowledged, there is a lack of information about the palace and that rumors thus play an important part. The article is biased and reflects the author’s hidden personal agenda. It is intended to offend the institution of monarchy, which is one of the main pillars of Thai society and highly revered.

I therefore strongly object to the publication of this article.

BANSARN BUNNAG
THAI, AMBASSADOR TO JAPAN

Several of Pavin’s claims are unsubstantiated, but that is the nature of reporting on a monarchy that is made as opaque as possible and where any real commentary on it risks years in jail. What is substantiated is that the prison exists – it was announced in the Royal Gazette, as Pavin says – and that former Grand Chamberlain Jumpol Manmai was held there.

So Bansarn and the military junta he represents may object but they are unable to convincingly deny the refeudalization of “justice.” Officials like Bansarn are imprisoned too; they cannot escape having to defend a decrepit royalism.

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