Thai PM tries to diffuse tensions over mourning attire

Head of military gov’t calls for unity after reports of Thais not wearing black after king’s death being publicly shamed

Thai PM tries to diffuse tensions over mourning attire

World Bulletin / News Desk

Thailand’s junta chief-cum-prime minister has attempted to contain ill-feeling against people not donning mourning attire after King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s death following instances in which those not dressed in black and white were publicly shamed, according to local media Monday.

The military government’s spokesman, Gen. Sansern Kaewkamnerd, said the premier, Prayuth Chan-ocha, “wants people to understand each other and sympathize with the limits faced by each individual”.

“This should be a time to demonstrate unity. Those who cannot dress in white or black can wear grieving symbols such as black ribbons,” the Bangkok Post quoted him as saying.

Since the highly revered 88-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej passed away Thursday, pictures of some Thais not wearing black were posted on the Internet alongside aggressive comments.

In one case, a photograph of a man with a red T-shirt eating in a noodle-shop was posted with the comment: “Why is he not wearing black? What is his heart made of? He has no conscience.”

The man in the image responded by posting pictures taken earlier of him donning black attire while paying his respects in the royal plaza in front of the Grand Palace where the body of the late king is laying.

In other incidents reported on the Internet, some people not wearing black or white -- the colors of mourning in the majority Buddhist country -- were publicly condemned by others.

The government has declared a one-year period of mourning throughout which civil servants have been asked to wear mourning attire.

Some private companies have followed suit, asking their employees to do the same.

Immediately after the death of the king -- who had been the world’s longest-reigning living monarch and seen as controlling factor in kingdom's turbulent political history -- traders began making brisk business on markets, particularly in sales of black clothes.

Prices for black garments doubled and then tripled, prompting the government to issue a warning Saturday saying that those selling at “inappropriate prices” could face a maximum penalty of seven years in jail and a fine of $4,000.

Some people who were subjected to public criticism for not wearing black said they could not afford to wear mourning clothes every day.

Several foreign embassies have issued travel advices asking their nationals to “dress respectfully” during the mourning period -- a rule generally followed by most foreigners residing or visiting Thailand, with some exceptions.

Among the exceptions was a cameraman of a Russian TV crew dressed in a pink shirt and green shorts while filming a crowd of mourners in front of the Grand Palace the day after the king’s death.

His picture was widely shared on the Internet with critical comments about his “cultural insensitivity”.

Last Mod: 17 Ekim 2016, 10:02
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