Thai king urges citizens to do their duty
Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej urged his countrymen to perform their duties for the good of the nation, in a much anticipated birthday address delivered in the midst of the country’s worst political unrest since 2010.
Thailand, he said, had been peaceful because its people were united, did their duties and supported reach other. Therefore, all Thais should perform their duties for the common interest, he added in the five-minute address punctuated with many pauses.
Anti-government demonstrators have been seeking to oust the administration of prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra for weeks.
Protest related violence – which killed at least four and injured than 200 people – halted abruptly on Tuesday after the authorities removed barricades and let protesters into the compounds of key government offices for brief but symbolic occupations.
Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, a former opposition member of parliament, has declared however that the campaign will continue after the king’s birthday. He is seeking to install a “people’s council” with representatives of different professions and helmed by prime minister appointed by the king.
King Bhumibol, who turns 86 today, is seen as stabilising influence in a country that has seen numerous coups as well as political violence since it became a constitutional monarchy in 1932. He has been living in a seaside palace in Hua Hin, central Thailand since July.
The revered monarch is seen as above politics, but he has intervened in crucial moments in Thai history to defuse political tension.
Anxiety about the looming end of his reign has coincided with increasing scrutiny of Thailand’s punitive lese majeste law, which prohibits insults against the king but has been abused by various political factions to attack their opponents.