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Asia Minute: Thailand After the King

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Thailand remains in mourning today, following the death of its king. While the king of Thailand was the world’s longest-reigning monarch, his relationship with his subjects might be hard for outsiders to understand—along with what comes next. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

Here are three things you never want to do in Thailand:

Never point the soles of your feet directly at someone—it’s extremely rude.

Never pat someone on the head—it’s a real invasion of a private space.

And never insult the royal family—it’s against the law.

But with King Bhumibol Adulyadej that last one was never that much of an issue—he really was a popular and beloved figure.  His picture was in many homes—on his birthday—a national holiday---banners would stretch across dusty roads out in the countryside expressing best wishes.  Because of that law about insults, observers in Thailand have been careful with their language since the king died.

But there is general agreement that the depth of those warm feelings is not likely to extend to his successor.  The Crown Prince has been married and divorced three times….and may be heading for a fourth marriage.  In some quarters he’s best known so far for appointing his pet dog as an air marshal in the Thai military.  The miniature poodle named “Foo Foo” died last year….and was cremated after four days of Buddhist rites.

The crown prince will come under closer review in coming weeks…along with his relationship with Thailand’s ruling military junta.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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