De­spite grief, Thais head back to work

The Myanmar Times - - World -

BANGKOK was a sea of black and white as com­muters, civil ser­vants, even a princess re­turned to work yes­ter­day, in a som­bre but de­ter­mined dis­play that life must go on with­out their beloved king.

King Bhu­mi­bol Adulyadej died at the age of 88 on Oc­to­ber 13 af­ter years of ill health, end­ing a seven-decade reign and leav­ing the po­lit­i­cally di­vided na­tion with­out its key pil­lar of unity.

Across the sprawl­ing metropo­lis work­ers crammed into buses, river boats, trains and sub­ways dressed in the black and white clothes that have come to sym­bol­ise and ex­press their sor­row.

Even Princess Maha Chakri Sirind­horn, the most pop­u­lar of King Bhu­mi­bol’s chil­dren, was back to work yes­ter­day.

Hours af­ter pre­sid­ing over dawn prayers for her fa­ther in­side the Grand Palace, the 61-year-old was at­tend­ing a cer­e­mony at the UN’s Food and Agri­cul­tural Or­gan­i­sa­tion which has made her a Spe­cial Am­bas­sador for Zero Hunger.

“Cli­mate change is a real and un­de­ni­able threat to the ecosys­tems and nat­u­ral re­sources that un­der­pin the re­gion’s agri­cul­tural sec­tor,” she said as she handed out awards to farm­ers from as far afield as Mon­go­lia and Viet­nam.

Thai­land’s junta has dis­played a prag­matic streak since King Bhu­mi­bol’s death.

The stock mar­ket was kept open the day af­ter he died, and the main in­dex rose af­ter buck­ling dur­ing his fi­nal days – de­fy­ing warn­ings that the coun­try would eco­nom­i­cally shut down in the event of the monarch’s pass­ing.

The au­thor­i­ties have also been wary of hit­ting the tourist sec­tor too hard given peak sea­son kicks off in De­cem­ber.

While pub­lic dis­plays of cel­e­bra­tions – such as fes­ti­vals and con­certs – have been curbed, there is no wide­spread ban on al­co­hol and only a re­quest for the fa­mously rau­cous en­ter­tain­ment scene to “tone down” for the next month.

Nonethe­less a layer of un­cer­tainty re­mains.

King Bhu­mi­bol’s heir, Crown Prince Maha Va­ji­ra­longkorn, made the sur­prise de­ci­sion to de­lay be­ing of­fi­cially pro­claimed the new king, ac­cord­ing to junta chief Prayut Chan-o-cha.

The prince wants time to mourn his fa­ther and pre­pare for king­ship, Mr Prayut said. –

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