Society spoke to the Thai ambassador, H.E. Arthayudh Srisamoot on the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the main projects in the economical bilateral relations and the Thai community in Austria.
After the death of His Majesty the King Bhumibol Adulyadej on 13 October 2016, one year of national mourning (starting with 14 October 2016) was proclaimed. Following the information of the Austrian Embassy in Bangkok, there can be restrictions in the infrastructure and services. What does that actually mean?
That is the first time in one generation event, because His Majesty the King has been on the throne for the last 70 years. He has done so much good for the country, is much revered, and is very well respected in the international arena. So for us it is a sense of great national loss. That’s why we have declared one year of national mourning. The flags of the government buildings will fly at half-mast for 30 days. During this period, at least the first 30 days, we don´t want to have any celebrations and festivities. It would be insensitive to have parties, celebrations or concerts during this period of national mourning. But of course, regular events like weddings and any functions that have been organised can proceed on relatively low-key manner. Some owners of nightclubs have tune down their activities, or to close their business earlier, as a sign of respect and mourning. But there are no restrictions in the infrastructure, travelling, transport, functions or services. Everything can still proceed, as long as you are sensitive to the feelings of the nation..
There are different traditions of mourning in Austria and Thailand. During the year of mourning are there are special customs and rules to be observed. What must be kept in mind in terms of respectful behaviour?
We have one year of national mourning, with most of the most important religious and royal ceremonies taking place in the first 100 days. At this moment, people from all walks of life, Thais and foreigners, are converging on the Grand Palace to pay homage and respect for His Majesty King Bhumibol. In the days and months ahead, there will be Royal Rites, funeral processions, and religious ceremonies, before the Royal Cremation which would probably happen after a year has passed. The Royal Family attends the religious ceremonies at the Grand Palace every day. In the first few weeks of the passing away of His Majesty, many foreign leaders, and dignatories have visited Thailand, starting with King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck of Bhutan and Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei, as well as the Prime Ministers of Singapore, Malaysia, Laos, Presidents of Indonesia and Sri Lanka, Vice President of China and the King of Lesotho. There has been no official ceremony, so everybody is coming to pay their respects on a personal basis. Letters of condolences have poured in from all over the world. News media and social media are in black and white, and there are numerous documentaries on the accomplishment of King Bhumibol in the international media. Thailand truly appreciates these gestures of sorrow and solidarity with the Thai people in this time of national mourning. We have not yet set a particular date for the Royal Cremation, but it would probably be held after the first year of national mourning. Even the international press still talks about King Bhumibol, months after his death – this is a big event for everybody. So, life goes on as normal, but you have to keep in mind that the nation is in deep mourning and be sensitive to the feelings of the Thai people and nation.