Thai King fires more officials for 'extremely evil' conduct and for being "lax" in their duties

Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn has proven to be an assertive constitutional monarch.
Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn has proven to be an assertive constitutional monarch.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

BANGKOK – Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn has sacked another group of palace officials and stripped them of their titles, bringing the number of such officials removed in October to nearly a dozen.

On Tuesday (Oct 29), two bedroom guards were sacked  for committing adultery, which was described as “extremely evil misconduct” in a palace announcement. It is considered to be a breach of the code of conduct for courtiers.

 Lieutenant Colonel Makaruek Koosumran, one of the two, was previously dismissed from the King’s Guard military unit and stripped of his military rank in March 2017 for carelessness in carrying out his duties “leading to serious damages to official matters.” An announcement published on the Royal Gazette website also cited his lack of qualifications for the job.

But, three months after his sacking, he was not only reinstated but promoted to lieutenant colonel to work under the King’s supervision. 

The other sacked bedroom guard – Lieutenant Colonel Ekachai Koograsang, was also fired abruptly in January 2017 as a royal guard. No explanation was given then for his sacking.  But a month later he was reinstated and transferred to the civilian division of the palace under the king’s supervision. 

The two guards were not the first palace officials to be sacked by the king for adultery. In March,a sub lieutenant, Chad Boonruen, was removed for a similar reason.

On Tuesday, two lieutenants in the King’s Guard were also dismissed for being “lax” in their duties, “behaving unbecoming of their ranks and titles” and “lacking conscience” as soldiers in the King’s Guard. 

All four of those sacked on Tuesday also had their pension privileges revoked.

Last Wednesday (Oct 23), six palace officials were also fired and stripped of their ranks for “extremely evil misconduct”. All were accused of failing to comply with rules set for officials and misusing their positions for their own gain. Half of the group was made up of women, including a general, a lady-in-waiting or Khunying as they are referred to in the palace and a major.

 
 
 
 

Khunying Thidarat Thammaraksa was employed as a policy analyst for a royal project under Queen Mother Sirikit’s patronage. Little is known about the other officials in the group.

Last week’s dismissals came two days after the unexpected move to strip Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi, 34, of her position as the Royal Noble Consort and military rank as a major general for trying to sabotage Queen Suthida’s coronation and her status as the queen. A two-page palace announcement said Ms Sineenat wanted to be  the queen. 

 Ms Sineenat was named the Royal Noble Consort when the king turned 67 on July 28. She became the second person to be named such in almost a century and she was conferred with the title about three months after the king married former flight attendant and former deputy head of his bodyguard unit, Suthida Tidjai, 41, and made her queen.

In late August, the palace made the unprecedented move of publishing Ms Sineenat’s biography and a series of photos of her and the king together on its website. The move triggered immediate heavy traffic on the palace website, causing it to crash temporarily. The biography and the photos have since been removed. 

Ms Sineenat’s current whereabouts are not known but the quick rise and fall of the former nurse, who is also a trained pilot, has shocked the kingdom.

There is little public discussion about the matter, however, because of Thailand’s strict lese majeste law which prohibits any criticism or insult against senior members of the royal family. Offenders face up to 15 years in prison on every charge if found guilty .

None of the palace announcements have linked the dismissed officials to the fallen consort.

Since ascending to the throne in late 2016, King Maha Vajiralongkorn has proved to be an assertive monarch and has made several moves to consolidate power, including taking complete ownership of the multi-billion-dollar assets of the Crown Property Bureau last year. He took direct control of two key army units this month.

The king had also dismissed and appointed several palace officials and military officers prior to October.