Thai King fires 6 palace officials for 'extremely evil' conduct days after dismissing consort for disloyalty

Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn dismissed six palace officials for "extremely evil" conduct, in an announcement from the palace on Oct 23, 2019.
Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn dismissed six palace officials for "extremely evil" conduct, in an announcement from the palace on Oct 23, 2019.PHOTO: REUTERS

BANGKOK (REUTERS, AFP) - Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn has dismissed six palace officials for "extremely evil" conduct, a palace announcement said on Wednesday (Oct 23), in a shake-up that comes days after the sacking of the King's royal consort.

The six included a woman, a senior police official and two royal guards, all of whom worked in the palace. AFP reported that "a nurse at the bedroom guard service" and a veterinarian were among those fired.

Two separate announcements published in the official royal gazette accused the six of severe disciplinary misconduct that caused harm to the royal service, and said they had been fired and stripped of all their official ranks.

"The King has ordered their dismissal from royal service... because of their severe disciplinary misconduct and deeds that are considered extremely evil," one of the announcements said.

The gazette alleged they exploited "their official positions for their own or other people’s gain".

Reuters was unable to reach the six officials for comment.

Former royal consort Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi was stripped of her titles in an extraordinary announcement on Monday, just months after the King made her his royal noble consort - the first such appointment in almost a century.

A palace statement on Monday accused her of being "disloyal" and conducting a rivalry with Queen Suthida, who married King Vajiralongkorn in May just days before his elaborate coronation.

 
 
 

Ms Sineenat, whose whereabouts since her dismissal are not known, has been trending on Thai social media with the hashtag #SaveKoi.

The Wednesday statements did not directly link the six sacked officials to Ms Sineenat's dismissal.

Since taking the throne following the death of his revered father King Bhumibol Adulyadej in 2016, King Vajiralongkorn has proved to be an assertive constitutional monarch, taking more direct control of royal affairs and the crown's vast wealth, and transferring two military units from the Royal Thai Army to his personal control.

Public criticism of the king or the royal family is illegal under Thailand's strict lese majeste laws, with insults to the monarchy punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

As the royal family is protected by lese majeste laws, scrutiny of it, or debate over its role, is almost impossible inside the kingdom. The public is often able to glean clues to the inner workings of the palace through its use of symbolic imagery and the fates of royal aides.