Tens of thou­sands pay re­spects to Thai king

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Thou­sands of Thais streamed into the gates of Bangkok’s Grand Palace yes­ter­day as the pub­lic was granted its first chance to en­ter the throne hall where the body of late King Bhu­mi­bol Adulyadej is ly­ing in state. Bhu­mi­bol, who died aged 88 two weeks ago, was adored by many of his sub­jects and seen as an an­chor of sta­bil­ity in a king­dom rocked by po­lit­i­cal tur­moil.

His pass­ing has thrust the coun­try into a year of of­fi­cial mourn­ing, with many Thais wear­ing only black and white since his death and TV chan­nels de­vot­ing hours of air­time to footage from his 70-year reign. For the past two weeks crowds have massed out­side the Grand Palace, a com­pound of shim­mer­ing tem­ples and pavil­ions in Bangkok’s old quar­ter, to pay trib­ute be­fore a por­trait of the late monarch. But yes­ter­day was the first time the pub­lic has been al­lowed to en­ter the or­nate throne hall where his body is ly­ing in a cof­fin, out of sight, near a gilded urn.

“I have been wait­ing here since 1:00 am,” said Sa­man Daoru­ang, an 84-year-old sit­ting in a mas­sive queue that snaked around a large field out­side the palace. Like many in the crowd, Sa­man camped out un­der a tent on the grassy pa­rade grounds, hav­ing ar­rived in Bangkok by train from north­ern Nakhon Sawan prov­ince. “But I wasn’t able to sleep be­cause I was so thrilled and proud to come here,” he told AFP, clutch­ing sev­eral por­traits of the monarch.

An ini­tial plan to limit visi­tors to 10,000 per day was dropped yes­ter­day af­ter crowds swelled to 100,000, ac­cord­ing to a mon­i­tor­ing cen­tre out­side the palace. How­ever Sansern Kaewkam­n­erd, a gov­ern­ment spokesman, urged peo­ple “not to rush to come in the early days” as the throne hall would be open for “a long time”. Thai­land’s arch-roy­al­ist mil­i­tary gov­ern­ment, which came to power in a 2014 coup, has en­cour­aged mass dis­plays of de­vo­tion for the late king and ar­ranged a flurry of free bus, train and boat rides to move mourn­ers to the cap­i­tal.

It has also stepped up its en­force­ment of lese ma­jeste-a law that pun­ishes crit­i­cism of the monar­chy with up to 15 years in prison per in­fringe­ment. All me­dia based in Thai­land must self-cen­sor to avoid fall­ing foul of the law. The leg­is­la­tion has also se­verely curbed pub­lic dis­cus­sion about the heir to the throne, Crown Prince Maha Va­ji­ra­longkorn, who has yet to at­tract the same level of de­vo­tion as his fa­ther. In a move that sur­prised many and veered from tra­di­tion, the 64-year-old asked to de­lay his procla­ma­tion as king in or­der to grieve with the na­tion, ac­cord­ing the junta. The gov­ern­ment has not pro­vided a clear time­line for when he will for­mally as­cend the throne. — AFP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.