Times of Suriname - - ENGELS -

THAILAND - Tens of thousands of Thais ha­ve strea­med in­to Bang­kok’s Grand Pala­ce as the pu­blic was gran­ted its first chan­ce to en­ter the thro­ne hall and see the bo­dy of la­te King Bhu­mi­bol Adu­ly­a­dej ly­ing in sta­te.

Bhu­mi­bol, who died at 88 on 13 Oc­to­ber, was ado­red by ma­ny of his sub­jects and seen as an an­chor of sta­bi­li­ty in a king­dom rock­ed by tur­bu­lent po­li­tics. His pas­sing plun­ged the coun­try in­to a year of of­fi­ci­al mourning, with most 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 mo­narch. Sa­tur­day mar­ked the first ti­me the pu­blic had been al­lo­wed to en­ter the de­co­ra­ted thro­ne hall whe­re his bo­dy lay in a cof­fin be­hind a gil­ded urn. “I ha­ve been wai­ting he­re sin­ce 1am,” said Sa­man Da­or­uang, an 84-year-old sit­ting in a thou­sand-long queue that snak­ed around a lar­ge field out­si­de the pala­ce. Au­tho­ri­ties said 10,000 mour­ners would be per­mit­ted to en­ter the thro­ne hall per day, in small bat­ches. Li­ke ma­ny in the crowd, Sa­man had slept in a tent on the gras­sy pa­ra­de grounds sin­ce he ar­ri­ved in Bang­kok by train from nor­thern Nak­hon Sa­wan pro­vin­ce. “But I ha­ven’t been ab­le to sleep be­cau­se I was so thril­led and proud to co­me he­re,” he said, clut­ching se­ve­r­al port­raits of the mo­narch. 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 hel­ped ar­ran­ge 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 dra­co­ni­an law that pu­nis­hes cri­ti­cism of the mo­nar­chy with up to 15 ye­ars in pri­son per of­fen­ce. The law has sig­ni­fi­cantly 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, the 64-year-old as­ked to de­lay his pro­cla­ma­ti­on as king in or­der to grie­ve with the na­ti­on, ac­cor­ding to jun­ta chief Prayut Chan-O-Cha, who has pre­si­ded over the tran­si­ti­on. (the­gu­ar­di­an)

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