Thai entertainment, TV soaps to resume 30 days after King's death: PM

Thai devotees offer special prayers under the sacred Bodhi Tree for the soul of the late Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Bodhgaya on Oct 30, 2016.
Thai devotees offer special prayers under the sacred Bodhi Tree for the soul of the late Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Bodhgaya on Oct 30, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

BANGKOK (REUTERS) - Restrictions on entertainment and television in Thailand, in place since the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, will be lifted on Nov 14, the Prime Minister said on Tuesday (Nov 1), though he urged respectful behaviour and programmes for a year of mourning.

King Bhumibol died on Oct 13 at the age of 88, after 70 years on the throne, plunging the country into grief.

The military government declared official mourning for a year and called for all festivities be postponed for an initial 30-day period, though it also asked for businesses and investors to maintain economic activity.

Television channels stopped normal broadcasting moments after the King's death was announced and switched to royal programming, including archive footage of the monarch's life and broadcasts from the Grand Palace where his body is lying in state.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said on Tuesday normal broadcasting can resume on Nov 14, including hugely popular soap operas, but he called for channels to maintain a sober tone.

"In terms of entertainment, soap operas and movies, they can go ahead," Gen Prayuth told reporters. "We simply ask for cooperation." "Some programmes need to lower their tone, especially slapstick comedy."

 

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Most Thais have been wearing black to mark the death of a widely loved constitutional monarch who was seen as a pillar of stability in the politically fractious country.

But normal business has been going on and the important tourism industry has been largely unaffected. Bars have even remained open though with their music turned down.

Gen Prayut called on both Thais and tourists to maintain decorum for the mourning period. "Do not wear inappropriate attire because at this moment we are mourning His Majesty," Gen Prayut said.

Shortly after the King died, the government said his designated heir, Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn, had asked for his succession to be delayed while he grieved with the people.

The military government has sought to reassure the country about the succession, saying the Prince would formally ascend the throne soon, though his ceremonial coronation would not take place until after his father's cremation, which is expected after a year.

While the government has yet to announce a date for the Prince's formal accession to the throne, two senior military sources with knowledge of the matter said on Monday it was expected on Dec 1.

Thailand's strict laws against royal insult, or lese majeste, have left little room for public discussion about the succession.