Top Thai royal aide sacked for ‘evil acts’

Since ascending the throne, King Maha Vajiralongkorn has axed a number of powerful palace officials from his father’s era. (Reuters)
Updated 11 November 2017
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Top Thai royal aide sacked for ‘evil acts’

BANGKOK: A senior Thai royal official has been sacked for “evil acts” including having an extramarital affair and forcing his alleged mistress to get an abortion, the palace said, the latest top aide to be axed under King Maha Vajiralongkorn.
Vajiralongkorn, 65, took the throne one year ago following the death of his widely revered father King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who reigned for seven decades.
He has yet to attain his father’s widespread popularity but remains insulated from any criticism by one of the world’s harshest royal defamation laws.
Since ascending the throne the new monarch has axed a number of powerful palace officials from his father’s era.
The latest aide to fall from grace is Distorn Vajarodaya, a senior official in the Royal Household Bureau who served as Grand Chamberlain under the late King Bhumibol and was often seen by the ailing monarch’s side during the final years of his reign.
A statement published by the Royal Gazette late Friday stripped Distorn of his royal decorations and listed his alleged wrongdoings — including having an extramarital affair, “forcing” his mistress to get an abortion, and then coercing her into marrying another man.
“When the woman got pregnant for the second time, he forced her to have another abortion but the woman refused. So he forced her to get married with another man she hadn’t had a relationship with,” the statement said.
Distorn was also accused of “using the King’s name to avoid taxation in importing a foreign vehicle” to replace a damaged royal car.
The aide also allegedly ordered staff to forge documents about a donation to a royal foundation he chaired.
Thailand’s lese majeste law, which criminalizes insulting the monarchy with up to 15 years in prison per offense, makes it impossible to publicly counter such charges.
Many of those purged from the new monarch’s inner circle have been charged with lese majeste and jailed.
In one of the most dramatic episodes, Vajiralongkorn divorced his third wife in late 2014 after half a dozen of her relatives were charged with lese majeste — and later jailed — for allegedly abusing their royal ties to him.
All media inside Thailand must heavily self-censor when reporting on the royal family to avoid falling foul of the defamation law.


May to tell British parliament Brexit ‘95 percent’ settled, faces party mutiny

Updated 5 min 39 sec ago
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May to tell British parliament Brexit ‘95 percent’ settled, faces party mutiny

  • ‘Ninety-five percent of the Withdrawal Agreement and its protocols are now settled,’ according to a partial transcript released by her office
  • Talks have stalled over how to stop its land frontier with the Republic of Ireland, an EU member, becoming a hard border again

LONDON: Prime Minister Theresa May will tell Britain’s parliament on Monday that Brexit negotiations are “95 percent” complete but that she cannot accept the European Union’s Northern Ireland border proposals — as she faces down an increasingly mutinous faction within her own party.
May has been on the receiving end of a furious backlash from Brexit hardliners in her own party after indicating at an EU summit last week that she could accept a longer post-divorce implementation phase than previously envisaged.
Her shift aimed to break an impasse in negotiations between London and Brussels over how to keep the Irish border open after Brexit, by giving the two sides more time to agree their future relationship.
But it infuriated Brexiteer colleagues who fear remaining tied to the EU for years after Britain’s formal departure next March.
Several Sunday newspapers said rebellious MPs were preparing a fresh bid to topple her leadership this week, many carrying colorful off-record quotes from the plotters.
In a bid to calm passions, May will address MPs in the House of Commons on Monday where she will say the divorce deal with Brussels is nearly done.
“Ninety-five percent of the Withdrawal Agreement and its protocols are now settled,” she will tell parliamentarians, according to a partial transcript released by her office late Sunday.
Highlighting progress in the year-long talks, she will say agreements have now been reached across a broad range of issues including with Spain on the status of the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar, and with Cyprus on the UK’s military bases there.
“We have broad agreement on the structure and scope of the future relationship, with important progress made on issues like security, transport and services,” she will say.
But on Ireland she will seek to reassure MPs in her own party that she will not bow to the EU’s current proposals.
“As I set out last week, the original backstop proposal from the EU was one we could not accept, as it would mean creating a customs border down the Irish Sea and breaking up the integrity of the UK,” she will say.
“I do not believe that any UK Prime Minister could ever accept this. And I certainly will not.”
The so-called backstop is a proposal to keep either Northern Ireland or all of Britain in a customs union should future trade talks end in deadlock.
Talks have stalled over how to stop its land frontier with the Republic of Ireland, an EU member, becoming a hard border again.
London believes customs and other checks can be avoided through a new trade agreement with Brussels, but accepts the need for a fallback plan until that deal is agreed.
However, the two sides have so far been unable to settle the terms of this so-called backstop.
France’s Europe minister Nathalie Loiseau told the BBC Sunday that the bloc needs “definitive answers, or at least no temporary measures which disappear and we don’t know what to do afterwards.”
Despite voting in favor of a split from Europe, the British public remain deeply polarized on Brexit.
On Saturday more than half a million anti-Brexit protesters hit the streets of London, the largest demonstration since 750,000 people showed up against the Iraq war in 2003.