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IPFS News Link • Death

With Thailand's king dead, his country is swallowed by grief and angst

• by World Staff

After all, at 88, King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand was clinging to life. His public appearances had grown extremely rare and, when he did speak, his voice was woefully faint. His death, apparently from organ failure, was hardly unexpected.

Yet Thais are nevertheless reeling, not only with grief but with angst.

Though this event has been discussed in whispers for years, open talk of the king's passing has been effectively criminalized — thus stifling any real public reckoning in advance of this long-dreaded day.

Thailand's king is exalted in a way that is highly unusual for a 21st-century monarch. His eminence derives from genuine public love. But it's also enforced by draconian laws. To criticize the monarchy in public — or even to offer remarks short of high praise — can bring on public shaming or, worse yet, prison time. That's the way many royalists like it.

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