Thai King writes messages of love for nation amid protests

King Maha Vajiralongkorn, seen here with Queen Suthida, writing a message as the couple greeted royalists in Thailand's Udon Thani province on Tuesday. On a picture of himself and the Queen that was brought by one well-wisher, the King wrote: "Love t
King Maha Vajiralongkorn, seen here with Queen Suthida, writing a message as the couple greeted royalists in Thailand's Udon Thani province on Tuesday. On a picture of himself and the Queen that was brought by one well-wisher, the King wrote: "Love the nation, love the people, cherish Thainess, real happiness." PHOTO: REUTERS

BANGKOK • Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn wrote messages of national unity and love on Tuesday during a visit to the north-east of the country two days after protesters sent him a letter demanding royal reforms that would curb his powers.

The Royal Palace has made no comment on months of protests, so any communications from the King are watched carefully in the South-east Asian country.

"We all love and care for each other. Take care of the country, help each other protect our country with goodness for prosperity and protect Thainess," the King wrote in a message to the governor of Udon Thani province.

On a picture of himself and Queen Suthida that was brought by one of many well-wishers, the King wrote: "Love the nation, love the people, cherish Thainess, real happiness."

Thousands of protesters marched to the Grand Palace in Bangkok on Sunday, getting within a few dozen metres of the walls despite a police blockade and a burst of water cannon, to send a message to the King.

Shattering a longstanding taboo on criticising the monarchy, they have demanded the departure of former junta leader Prayut Chan-o-cha as prime minister, a new Constitution and reforms that would reduce the King's powers.

"When the King truly cherishes democracy, all people will find happiness," the protesters said.

The King made his first comments on the protesters last week in which he said "we love them all the same" and describing Thailand as a land of compromise.

Mr Prayut has said he will not resign, rejecting protesters' accusations that he engineered last year's election to keep power that he seized in a 2014 coup.

Pictures from different royal events in Udon Thani showed thousands of people. Many wore yellow shirts - matching the King's colour - and carried official portraits of the royal couple.

Meanwhile, the German government found no evidence that the Thai King did anything illegal while residing there, German press agency DPA said on Tuesday, citing a Foreign Ministry statement.

The King has spent most of his time over the past years in the European nation, and Thai protesters last month asked Germany to probe if he had exercised royal authority during his time there in violation of the country's law.

"The German government has no reliable evidence that the Thai King has taken any such decisions during his stay in Germany," the Foreign Ministry said.

It added that it expected the King not to make decisions that "contravene the German legal system, international law or internationally guaranteed human rights" while on German soil.

REUTERS, BLOOMBERG

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 12, 2020, with the headline Thai King writes messages of love for nation amid protests. Subscribe