Bangkok: Thailand’s crown prince will lead a mass cycling event today in homage to his father King Bhumibol Adulyadej, a rare public plausibility for the prince amid anxiety over his ailing dad’s health.
Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, 63, will ride with tens of thousands of yellow-clad cyclists through the road of Bangkok for the “Bike for Dad” event, a nod to the king’s official colour. A equal mass cycle in August celebrated the role of his elderly mother Queen Sirikit.
The mass cycling events have been billed as a opportunity to promote unity among Thais 18 months after a coup swept away the civilian government — the latest episode in a seemingly endless succession of elections and coups.
Television presenters have been wearing yellow shirts in the run-up to the king’s birthday last Saturday, which was a subordinate affair with no statement issued or public plausibility made.
The king is revered among many Thais but has been in hospital for more of the last two years and is may be seen in public.
Police have closed normally busy road and cyclists were assembly at the Royal Plaza in central Bangkok early today, from where they will set off to ride a 29-kilometre (18-mile) route through the capital.
Official figures, much than half a million people nationwide are required to take part in today’s cycling event, topping the 136,411 people who participated in the “Bike for Mom” event in August.
The two tightly-choreographed mass cycling events have thrust the crown prince centre stage at a time of increase concern over the health of his revered father and over the political and economic fortunes of the country.
For more of the last decade Thailand has been rocked by political versatility partially fuelled by jostling among the country’s elites for effect as the king’s reign enters its twilight years.
Bhumibol and his family are safe by one of the world’s harshest lese majeste laws, making criticism of the monarchy, or public debate about its role in society all but impossible.
The interplay between the monarchy, politics and the people is delicate and heavily shrouded by the law.
conviction under the controversial legislation have skyrocketed since the country’s royalist military seized power last year, toppling a democratically elected government.