At the entrance to a neighborhood in Bangkok’s garment district, residents have posted an unambiguous message on an archway decorated with an image of Thailand’s king.
“If you live in Thailand, you must be loyal,” reads a sign prominently suspended over the road. “If you are not loyal, you are not Thai.”
Thailand has always stood out for the deference that many Thais openly show toward their monarch. But in the twilight of the reign of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, 84, now weakened and living in a specially outfitted suite in a Bangkok hospital, dedicated loyalists are leading a feverish, with-us-or-against-us campaign to defend him. At the same time, the government has intensified a crackdown on criticism of the monarchy, prosecuting a record number of people charged with royal insults.
Passions over the monarchy have escalated to the point where some Thais say they fear the situation could turn violent.
“We have reached a stage where people would want to drive you out of the country or even want to kill you for having different thoughts,” said Anon Numpa, a lawyer who represents a dozen clients accused of royal insults.
The royalists say they feel under attack, most recently from outside the country. On the Internet, thousands of Thais have posted angry comments on the U.S. Embassy’s Facebook page since a Thai-born U.S. citizen was convicted of insulting the king.
Worth a read.
(All emphasis mine.)