During a walk through thousands of prostrating royalists chanting “Long live the king,” King Vajiralongkorn on Sunday night gave his first known face-to-face comments to a reporter since ascending the throne.
The king was outside the Grand Palace when a Channel 4 and CNN news team asked him about the ongoing protests and calls for royal reform. After initially saying “no comment,” the monarch repeated, “We love them all the same” three times. Asked if there was room to compromise with the protesters, the king replied, “Thailand is the land of compromise.”
The brief interview was a tremendous scoop by Jonathan Miller, a U.K. Channel 4 foreign affairs correspondent, who had waited among the crowd for the chance to get the king’s thoughts on protests calling for his power to be brought under the constitution. The king was interviewed standing beside Queen Suthida and daughter Sirivannavari.
As thousands of protesters in Thailand demand reform to the monarchy, the King has told Channel 4 News/CNN in an exclusive interview that "we love them all the same" and Thailand is "the land of compromise" – suggesting there may be a way out of the months long political standoff pic.twitter.com/GJoizuYZfz
— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) November 1, 2020
Youth protest leader Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul, who police have been trying to keep jailed and is among those leading the call for royal reforms, tweeted, “Yes, Land of compromise where protesters are arrested, protests get crackdowns, protesters get beat up, and critics of [the monarchy] get disappeared.”
The pro-royalist crowd had waited since Sunday afternoon outside the Grand Palace in Bangkok’s old town to greet the king, queen and royal family. Flags were hoisted. Framed pictures of King Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida were raised. Among them was celeb volunteer rescue Bin Banluerit and casino mogul Apirak Chaianun, aka Sia Po (Godfather Po), and Thai Pakdee royalist group member Warong Dechkitvikrom,
During the walkabout, the king was filmed telling Warong, “We must help bring out the truth.” The remark has been a trending hashtag on Twitter since Sunday night.
Pro-democracy activist and dissident Jatupat “Pai Dao Din” Boonpattarasaksa, who was convicted in 2017 of defaming the monarchy under Article 112 of the Penal Code, tweeted:
“The truth is, I was prosecuted for Section 112, imprisoned for 2 years, 4 months, 18 days for sharing the BBC news Thai history of King Rama 10.”
Subscribe to The Coconuts Podcast for top trending news and pop culture from Southeast Asia and Hong Kong every Friday!