BANGKOK – Thousands of people in Thailand remembered on Saturday the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej on the second anniversary of his death through various religious ceremonies, events and military parades held throughout the country.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha and several ministers and senior officials of the administration, all dressed in white, took part in a ceremony with Buddhist monks in honor of Bhumibol, who passed away on Oct. 13, 2016.
Dozens of people wearing yellow T-shirts, the color most commonly associated with Thai royalty, gathered at the Siriraj hospital, where the monarch died aged 88 after suffering years of ill health.
Thai people also paid tribute to their late king at the Sanam Luang public square and in front of the old parliament building, where a military parade took place.
Bhumibol, who reigned for seven decades, was, until his death, the only king most Thais knew, achieving a nearly-divine status among the population and becoming a symbol of national unity, although the sentiment is forcibly reinforced by harsh lèse-majesté laws that severely punish any criticism of the monarch.
His son, the new king – Maha Vajiralongkorn – has lived much of his life abroad, disconnected from the responsibilities of the throne; he does not enjoy the popularity of his father.
Information over the Thai monarchy is a sensitive matter in the country due to the censorship laws carrying 3-15 year prison sentences for criticizing or making insulting comments towards the royal family.