World Thai king's praise for defiant loyalist draws controversy

09:16  24 october  2020
09:16  24 october  2020 Source:   reuters.com

Thai officials call for emergency decree over Bangkok protests

  Thai officials call for emergency decree over Bangkok protests The Thai government has issued an emergency decree as protesters in Bangkok call for the prime minister's resignation. Demonstrators have called for the ousting of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who led the military junta that ruled the country from 2014 to 2019. Protesters are also seeking a new constitution and reforms to King Maha Vajiralongkorn's monarchy, Reuters reported.

Thailand ' s King Vajiralongkorn has stripped his royal consort of her rank and titles for "misbehaviour and disloyalty against the monarch". An official announcement said Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi had been "ambitious" and tried to "elevate herself to the same state as the queen".

Sineenatra Wongvajirabhakdi was accused last year of seeking to undermine the queen.

By Orathai Sriring and Patpicha Tanakasempipat

Vajiralongkorn et al. wearing costumes: Ceremony to commemorate the death of King Chulalongkorn, known as King Rama V, at The Grand Palace in Bangkok © Reuters/ATHIT PERAWONGMETHA Ceremony to commemorate the death of King Chulalongkorn, known as King Rama V, at The Grand Palace in Bangkok

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn's praise for a man who held up a royal portrait at a protest site in Bangkok has drawn controversy in Thailand, winning acclaim from monarchists and scorn from protesters.

The king has not made any public comment on more than three months of protests, which have increasingly targeted the monarchy as well as the government.

But in video recorded on Friday evening as the king greeted well-wishers outside the Grand Palace, he is heard praising a monarchist who is introduced by Queen Suthida as the man who held up the royal portrait while others were protesting.

Thailand protests: Government announces emergency decree to quell pro-democracy demonstrations

  Thailand protests: Government announces emergency decree to quell pro-democracy demonstrations Thailand's government arrested several prominent protest leaders and announced a ban on gatherings of more than five people under an emergency decree Thursday aimed at quelling pro-democracy demonstrations that have gripped the country for more than three months. © Stringer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images Pro-democracy protesters seen pushing back Thai police during an anti-government demonstration on October 14, 2020 in Bangkok, Thailand. The decree, which came into effect in the capital Bangkok at 4 a.m.

Thailand ' s king has reinstated his royal consort to the position, nearly a year after she was stripped of her titles in a dramatic fall from grace. King Vajiralongkorn returned Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi' s rank and titles on Wednesday, the Royal Gazette announced.

King Maha Vajiralongkorn in a croptop in Munich. Thai officials ordered that the snaps of King Maha “The Air Chief Marshal’ s antics drew the full attention of the 600-plus audience members, and The king was previously pictured at a German airport with Nui while he was also dressed in a white crop

a group of people posing for the camera: Anti-government protest in Bangkok © Reuters/SOE ZEYA TUN Anti-government protest in Bangkok

"Very brave, very brave, very good, thank you," the king said.

The Royal Palace made no comment, as it has not since the start of anti-government protests in July that have increasingly targeted the monarchy as well. Government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri declined to comment.

The video was posted on the royalist's Facebook page along with several other videos of the event and pictures of him from Oct. 20 holding the portrait.

"Their majesties recognised me. This is the highest point of my life," wrote the man, Thitiwat Tanagaroon.

Reuters was unable to independently verify the authenticity of the video. Several other people at the event recorded the encounter and posted videos online, but the king's words were not clear amid the chanting.

King Rama X. of Thailand: His son is picked up from Munich by plane.

 King Rama X. of Thailand: His son is picked up from Munich by plane. Thailand's King Rama X. has his son Dipangkorn Rasmijoti picked up from Munich. The 15-year-old went back to Bangkok on a plane from the Royal Thai Airforce. © Getty Images King Maha Vajiralongkorn (right), Queen Suthida (behind) with Prince Dipangkorn Rasmijoti (center) and Princess Bajrakitiyabha (left) at a royal, religious ceremony in Bangkok on October 14, 2020 While protests are raging in Thailand, Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn , 68, called Rama X., had his son flown in from Munich

Thailand ' s king stunned observers on Monday by stripping his royal consort of her rank and titles, just months after she was granted the honours. It was only in July when Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi was named as "official consort" alongside the new queen - but the palace said she was punished for trying

Members of Thailand ' s royal family led an elaborate procession for King Bhumibol Adulayadej' s funeral ceremonies. Soldiers carried a symbolic urn around the

The king's comments drew a big response.

"Just seeing this picture, we are very touched," royalist leader Warong Dechgitvigrom posted. "This is the Thai way and Thai society of caring, supporting and protecting. Today it’s considered that his institution has adapted to be very close to the people. That made the greatest impression."

But also among the top trending hashtags on Twitter in Thailand, tweeted well over 500,000 times, was #23OctEyesOpened - used by protesters and their supporters saying the Palace had now made its position clear.

The hashtag #VeryBraveVeryGoodThankYou was also widely used - alongside sarcastic comments.

"Very brave, very brave, very good for such a clear expression," read a comment from protest leader Tattep Ruangprapaikitseree. He has put less emphasis than others on calls for royal reform.

Another protest leader, Piyarat Chongthep, commented: "The king has not been above political problems but always sits at the heart of the problems."

"Their voice is capital", Thai celebrities break the silence

 © Provided by Le Point K-pop superstar, beauty queens and television personalities are among the more and more celebrities to make their voices heard in support of the Thai pro-democracy movement. In this kingdom, stars rarely speak of their political opinions, their financial gains depending on the billionaires who are one of the pillars of the country's establishment.

King Maha Vajiralongkorn - also known as Rama X - is said to have checked into a posh German hotel with a harem of beautiful royal concubines. Meanwhile, it' s been revealed Malaysia' s king and queen have been placed under quarantine after seven palace staff members tested positive for coronavirus.

Thailand ’ s King Maha Vajiralongkorn, Queen Suthida and daughter Princess Bajrakitiyabha Mahidol (left). Thai kings were historically polygamous, with consorts appointed in addition to queens, but until this year the title had not been used since the country became a constitutional monarchy in 1932.

Protesters seek the removal of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, a former junta leader they accuse of engineering an election last year to keep power. He denies the accusation.

The protests also seek changes to the constitution and to reduce the powers of the monarchy, which they say has helped enable decades of military domination.

Under Thailand's constitution, the monarchy is "enthroned in a position of revered worship" but in principle it does not engage in politics - a point that the king himself underlined during elections last year.

James Buchanan, a lecturer at Bangkok's Mahidol University International College, said the king's comments marked his clearest intervention so far in Thailand's crisis.

"I interpret it as signalling that the king acknowledges the challenge to his authority by the protests, but will not back down," he said.

(Additional reporting by Panu Wongcha-Um; Writing by Matthew Tostevin)

Thai students pose with 'dissidents' in graduation protest .
Thai students pose with 'dissidents' in graduation protestBANGKOK (Reuters) - Some students at Thailand's Thammasat University posed with cardboard cutouts of well-known critics of the monarchy on Saturday in a protest as King Maha Vajiralongkorn was to present degrees amid growing calls for royal reform.

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