Thai crown prince to suc­ceed King Bhu­mi­bol

The Sun (Malaysia) - - NEWS WITHOUT BORDERS -

BANGKOK: Thai Prime Min­is­ter Prayuth Chan-ocha said yes­ter­day the ap­point­ment of a suc­ces­sor to King Bhu­mi­bol Adulyadej, who died ear­lier in the day, would be made later.

Reuters re­ported Prayuth as say­ing that Crown Prince Maha Va­ji­ra­longkorn ( pix), who has agreed to suc­ceed his fa­ther, had asked for time to mourn with the rest of the coun­try.

Prayuth also said Thai­land would hold a one-year mourn­ing pe­riod while all en­ter­tain­ment func­tions must be “toned down” for 30 days, re­ported AFP.

Va­ji­ra­longkorn was for years known for his colour­ful pri­vate life and fre­quent trips over­seas, but as his fa­ther’s health de­clined, he adopted a more prom­i­nent pub­lic role in the po­lit­i­cally febrile king­dom.

He in­her­its one of the world’s rich­est monar­chies, pro­tected by harsh royal defama­tion laws that carry up to 15 in years in jail on each count of de­fam­ing the king, queen, heir or re­gent.

But the thrice-di­vorced prince will also sit as the con­sti­tu­tional head of a deeply po­larised na­tion, which is trapped in a seem­ingly end­less cy­cle of coups, protests and bouts of po­lit­i­cal vi­o­lence.

Un­like his fa­ther, Va­ji­ra­longkorn’s abil­ity to op­er­ate as a uni­fy­ing force os­ten­si­bly above the po­lit­i­cal fray is untested.

The prince has not pub­licly backed any side in the bit­ter pol­i­tics that have en­gulfed his coun­try in re­cent years.

Ex­perts say Thai­land’s po­lit­i­cal tur­moil is driven by con­cerns among com­pet­ing elites over their stakes in the fu­ture of the king­dom af­ter Bhu­mi­bol’s death.

Born on July 28, 1952, Va­ji­ra­longkorn com­pleted his sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion in Bri­tain be­fore train­ing at Aus­tralia’s Royal Mil­i­tary col­lege and join­ing the Thai mil­i­tary.

He de­vel­oped a pas­sion for fly­ing af­ter learn­ing the skill in the United States, pi­lot­ing fighter jets in Thai­land and steer­ing planes for na­tional car­rier Thai Air­ways.

But lit­tle is re­ported about the only son of Thai­land’s de­ceased king, due to the strict lese ma­jeste laws. Ex­perts say his stand on en­forc­ing such laws will say much about his vi­sion for the monar­chy.

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