Nine hundred and ninety-nine hilltribe people were among the crowds queuing in front of the Grand Palace for an opportunity to pay their respects to the recently deceased and much-revered HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej yesterday.
As they waited in line, some carried portraits of the monarch high above their heads, while others held portraits in their arms close to their hearts. The gestures reflected the love and loyalty that hilltribe people have expressed for His Majesty, also known as King Rama IX.
The hilltribe people who showed up in front of the Grand Palace yesterday had qualified for a special quota allotted by the Social Development and Human Security Ministry, which helped facilitate their trips to Bangkok.
Some hilltribe people in the capital yesterday had never left their hometowns before, but made the trip out of a determination to express respect for their beloved King. The monarch’s body rests inside the Grand Palace’s Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall, which is now open to mourners.
“It’s my first time to Bangkok. But I was determined to come. I must lay prostrate before my King,” said Boonmee Charoenrattanapairote, 55, an ethnic Karen from the northern province of Lamphun. Other hilltribe ethnicities represented included Hmong, Akha, Lua, Thin and Khmu.
“The news of his passing has brought much grief to hilltribe people in Nan province,” said Pan Paopa, 61, from the mountain-dwelling Thin tribe.
Over the past seven decades, His Majesty devoted himself to improving the lives of people across Thailand, including those living in the remotest areas.
Pan said he was glad that he had received the opportunity to come to the Grand Palace to prostrate himself before the king’s body.
“It’s not possible to describe my emotions in words. They are so intense,” he said.
A special quota has been allotted to bring hilltribe people from 20 northern and northeastern provinces to enter the Throne Hall, in recognition of His Majesty’s efforts to help their communities. – The Nation