Senior adviser to Thailand king sacked in latest purge

Published Tue, Feb 28, 2017 · 05:05 AM
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[BANGKOK] A senior adviser to Thailand's new monarch has been sacked, authorities said on Tuesday, the second aide to King Maha Vajiralongkorn to be publicly purged in recent weeks.

Vajiralongkorn, 64, took the throne following the October death of his widely revered father King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who reigned for seven decades.

He has yet to attain his father's widespread popularity.

In recent years a growing list of people in his inner circle have been fired or jailed, including two who later died in military custody.

The latest palace official to fall from grace is Jumpol Manmai, a former deputy police commissioner and palace Grand Chamberlain.

In a statement the Royal Household Bureau said Jumpol was fired for trying to improperly profit from his royal links and make political connections.

"General Jumpol committed inappropriate behaviour as a senior official close to the King," the palace order, countersigned by junta chief Prayut Chan-O-Cha, said.

"He abused his position to gain personal and political benefits which jeopardises security," it added, without giving further details.

The fates of fallen royal aides are closely watched and widely gossipped upon by Thais.

That is because the royal family is protected by a draconian defamation law that makes scrutiny of its inner workings, or debate over its role, almost impossible inside the kingdom.

Media inside Thailand must heavily self-censor when reporting on the royal family.

Last week another senior aide to the king, Air Vice Marshal Chitpong Thongkum, was sacked on the charge of improperly profiting from the family.

In 2015 three people - including a celebrity soothsayer - were arrested under the lese majeste law for trying to profit from their royal connections.

The soothsayer and one other suspect died in military custody soon after their arrests.

The year before, Vajiralongkorn announced that his then wife Princess Srirasmi Suwadee, with whom he has a son, had been stripped of her titles.

That came after half a dozen members of Srirasmi's family were jailed on lese majeste charges for allegedly improperly using their connections to him.


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