Apple has made its Thai website black and white to honor the death of Thailand's king Bhumibol Adulyadej, who passed away last week at the age of 88. Bhumibol Adulyadej had served as the ninth monarch of Thailand since 1946, making him the world's longest-serving head of state at the time of his death ahead of Queen Elizabeth II.
The monochrome website reflects Thai citizens who have dressed in pure black or black and white to mourn the loss of Bhumibol Adulyadej, who was a highly revered figure in the country. Thai TV stations have also provided footage of the king in black and white, colors that represent grief and purity respectively in the country.
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My partner has been watching black and white videos basically non-stop and crying generally. She Skypes with family and they just cry. I appreciated what Apple and Google did in Thailand with the Black and White concept. I just observe.
Now I want to share a bit from those I know outside my partner's circle of family and friends, because I do a bit of international business and have friends in a variety of levels over there.
I am connected to Thai farmers - average really poverty level folks. But just because they do not have high tech gadgets does not mean that they do not appreciate what they have.
Right now tho, they are really really grieving.
I am a colleague of a few politicians there. Most in Thai politics want to move away from the king's legacy - to varying degrees; they want to develop the land and boost professional urbanites. Some are seeking specifically to solidify a national narrative that does NOT include the king's legacy work for farmers' rights.
Interesting example: Let's change the constitution so that each professional class gets an equal vote. Lawyers and doctors and ... each get a vote. Farmers also get one vote as a class - and thus lose every time. Fortunately that did not pass.
The king had tremendous assets in land primarily in downtown Bangkok. Not liquid and not really his to sell. The king was a figurehead as the Queen of England, yet he gave and emphasized the importance of giving to the farmers.
The king's children are each different in their own ways. While he lived humbly, some children liked the celebrity nature of royalty. You could complain that he should have reined them in. The king's next in line is one like that, and Thai people and politicians alike fear that direction; but again this fear is tempered by the fact that Thai royal power is limited largely to figurehead status.
The king's temperment held some politicians in check against their egos somewhat. Still, small revolutions occurred especially as he was getting older and ill, and some politicians self-currupted. The fear is that such political opportunism will be less tempered in the absence of the modest king. The next in line shows little modesty or skill to guide the hearts and minds of politicians.
Those I know with wealth could definitely do more! They admit this, but are focused on business- just not looking to give away what are absolutely more liquid assets.
The king did what he could largely to conserve farmers rights and farmland, and that was precisely what caused such a backlash from some politicians for such constitutional amendments as I noted above; an overreaction to the king's guarding of the farmers.
Now, I do not have an opinion what the final form should be in government there, as I am not Thai myself and as I believe that governments are constantly responding to their situations and growing to adapt.
However, Thai grief is real. It is not North Korea. Though I could see where you are coming from given how crazy the world has become - who knows what anymore, right? And some strong politicians do coerce, I get that. But the ambitious types in Thai politics are currently wanting to forget the king, not to remember him.
Outside Thailand, markets fear the instability.
Inside now farmers and many wealthy and many in between now fear the future given the political ambitions of a few, who see the next in line as less capable to temper them and less interested in protecting farmers.
Personally again I believe that These last 15 years have allowed Thailand to prepare. They have seen political corruption of a few, and have seen course corrections as a country. They are experienced and, god willing, ready for the next moment about to come.
Apart from all that, again just a nice small thing what Apple and Google did to align with the many in this moment.
If so inclined, the king could have taken real steps to eradicate poverty in what is, actually, a relatively rich country. Whenever the poor tried electing leaders with any interest in actually helping them (with rural clinics, small welfare payments for the old and other minor attempts to alleviate true hardship) the army took over, with the full support of the king.
As for signs of support, no-one can really know what the Thai people truly believe or support, because they cannot vote and can receive 30 years in a hellhole prison for voicing an opinion or, even, liking the wrong Facebook post. My impression is that the king was a huge presence in everyone's life but most Thais, outside the elites, have serious misgivings about the whole system and are alarmed by the crown prince.
Of course, no-one can express such thoughts openly, but don't believe that everyone participating in the current exaggerated displays of mourning is doing so voluntarily, in that sense they are no more free than North Koreans.