PM re­as­sures Thais on smooth suc­ces­sion

> Crown prince’s coro­na­tion could be de­layed by one year

The Sun (Malaysia) - - NEWS WITHOUT BORDERS -

BANGKOK: Thai­land has sought to dis­pel con­cern about a royal suc­ces­sion af­ter Crown Prince Maha Va­ji­ra­longkorn said he would de­lay his as­cen­sion to the throne while he mourns his fa­ther, and the gov­ern­ment stressed yes­ter­day its was work­ing as nor­mal.

King Bhu­mi­bol Adulyadej died on Thurs­day af­ter seven decades on the throne. He was 88.

The prospect of com­pli­ca­tions in the suc­ces­sion in the po­lit­i­cally di­vided coun­try could alarm fi­nan­cial mar­kets, but the mil­i­tary gov­ern­ment has been quick to quash any such spec­u­la­tion.

The crown prince has re­quested that his suc­ces­sion be de­layed for an un­spec­i­fied pe­riod, so he can grieve with the peo­ple, Prime Min­is­ter Prayuth Chan-ocha has said.

The gov­ern­ment has not set a date for the royal cre­ma­tion but a deputy prime min­is­ter said the prince had asked that it be held af­ter a year of mourn­ing, and the coro­na­tion would take place af­ter the cre­ma­tion.

The for­mal pro­ce­dure for him to be­come king, which in­volves the pres­i­dent of the leg­is­la­ture invit­ing him to as­cend the throne, can hap­pen at any time be­fore his coro­na­tion.

In the mean­time, the head of the royal ad­vi­sory coun­cil, a 96-year-old for­mer army chief and prime min­is­ter, Prem Tin­su­lanonda, is stand­ing in as re­gent.

The prince held an au­di­ence with Prem and Prayuth on Satur­day evening and asked them to pass on his re­as­sur­ance to the peo­ple, the premier said.

“He asked the peo­ple not to be con­fused or worry about the coun­try’s ad­min­is­tra­tion or even about the suc­ces­sion,” Prayuth said in a tele­vised ad­dress.

“He said at this time ev­ery­one is sad, he is still sad, so ev­ery side should wait un­til we pass this sad time. When the re­li­gious cer­e­mony and fu­neral have passed for a while, then it will be an ap­pro­pri­ate time to pro­ceed,” he said.

King Bhu­mi­bol has long been rev­ered as a fa­ther fig­ure and sym­bol of unity in a coun­try riven by po­lit­i­cal crises over the years, most re­cently by a power strug­gle be­tween the mil­i­tary-led es­tab­lish­ment and pop­ulist po­lit­i­cal forces.

Many Thais worry about a fu­ture with­out him.

Thai­land’s strict lese ma­jeste laws, which have been ap­plied rig­or­ously since a mil­i­tary gov­ern­ment took power in a 2014 coup, have left lit­tle room for pub­lic dis­cus­sion about the suc­ces­sion.

Gov­ern­ment spokesman Sansern Kaewkam­n­erd said the prime min­is­ter wanted to re­as­sure the pub­lic about the gov­ern­ment’s work and a Cab­i­net meet­ing would go ahead as nor­mal to­mor­row so ad­min­is­tra­tion “can con­tinue seam­lessly”.

The gov­ern­ment has is­sued guide­lines to me­dia say­ing pro­grammes and ad­ver­tis­ing should not show “im­proper scenes such as en­ter­tain­ing, danc­ing” or vi­o­lence.

In­for­ma­tion re­lated to the king’s death must be ap­proved by au­tho­rised bod­ies, while crit­i­cism or anal­y­sis would not be al­lowed, the gov­ern­ment has said, the Na­tion news­pa­per re­ported.

Thai­land’s three main mo­bile ser­vice providers said cus­tomers should re­port “in­ap­pro­pri­ate con­tent on the royal in­sti­tu­tion” on so­cial me­dia.

Sen­tences for con­vic­tions for lese ma­jeste, or royal in­sult, have be­come in­creas­ingly harsh, with one of­fender jailed for 30 years in 2015.

Prayuth has promised an elec­tion next year. He has not said if it might be post­poned due to the mourn­ing. – Reuters

REUTERSPIX

Va­ji­ra­longkorn takes part in a cer­e­mony hon­our­ing King Bhu­mi­bol at the Grand Palace in Bangkok on Satur­day.

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