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.


North Korea puts reunion of war separated families in doubt

A woman and a young child walk down a street together in Pyongyang, North Korea, July 7, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 41 min 47 sec ago
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North Korea puts reunion of war separated families in doubt

  • South Korea's current liberal President Moon Jae-in wants to expand ties with North Korea, but repatriating any of the women would be a delicate matter
  • There has been mounting speculation that some of the 12 North Korean women might have been truly duped into coming to South Korea

SEOUL, South Korea: North Korea said that an August reunion of Korean families separated by war may not happen if South Korea doesn’t immediately return some of its citizens who arrived in the South in recent years.
The 2016 arrival of a group of 12 female employees from a North Korean-run restaurant in China has been a source of contention between the rival Koreas. North Korea has accused South Korea of kidnapping them, while South Korea says they decided to resettle on their own will.
North Korea has often used the women as a reason to rebuff South Korea’s repeated request to allow elderly citizens split during the 1950-53 Korean War to reunite with each other briefly. But Friday’s statement is the North’s first attempt to link the fate of the women to the August reunion and comes amid worries that a global diplomacy to push the North to give up its nuclear weapons is making little headway after a detente of the past several months.
The North’s state-run Uriminzokkiri website said that the reunion and overall inter-Korean ties will face “obstacles” if Seoul doesn’t send back the women.
Seoul’s Unification Ministry said it has no comment on the Uriminzokkiri dispatch.
There has been mounting speculation that some of the 12 North Korean women might have been truly duped into coming to South Korea.
After meeting some of the women earlier this month, Tomas Ojea Quintana, the United Nations’ independent investigator on human rights in North Korea, told reporters in Seoul that they told him they did not know they were heading to South Korea when they departed China.
“Some of them, they were taken to the Republic of Korea without knowing that they were coming here,” Quintana said, referring to South Korea by its formal name. “If they were taken against their will, that may (be) considered a crime. It is the duty and responsibility of the government of the Republic of Korea to investigate.”
South Korean media had earlier carried a similar report, citing interviews with some of the women and their North Korean male manager who came to South Korea with them.
The women’s arrival happened when South Korea was governed by a conservative government, which took a tough stance on the North’s nuclear program. South Korea’s current liberal President Moon Jae-in wants to expand ties with North Korea, but repatriating any of the women would be a delicate matter, with many experts saying relatives of those who decide to stay in the South will certainly face reprisals by the North Korean government.