Prime Minister’s Office Minister Suwaphan Tanyuvardhana yesterday assured no jumping of queues by government officials in entering the Grand Palace to pay respect to the beloved King Bhumibol Adulyadej as reported in some news media.
His affirmation came after a news report and video clip was widely shared in the social media showing large groups of privileged people jumping the queue, despite that people travelling from the provinces having to arrive in the night and waiting at least eight hours to get the queue to pay respects in the Grand Palace.
Mourners are allowed into the Grand Palace from 5 am until 9 pm.
With regards to some complaints over some civil servants that were seen cutting ahead of queues, Mr Suwaphan, the minister attached to the Prime Minister’s Office, clarified that they were staff who were entering the Grand Place to perform official duties assigned to them.
There were all together on average 100 officials rotating at 6 intervals every day.
He said they had official duties within the throne hall and the public had nothing to worry about as all civil servants had been ordered to behave in a responsible manner and consider the needs of the public first and foremost.
The Bureau of the Royal Household authorities said on average there are 20,000 mourners arriving daily at the Grand Palace to pay their respects to His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
But at weekend, the number increases to over 35,000.
With so many people, it is vital that authorities regulate crowds as well as queues in order to accommodate everyone.
The Bureau of the Royal Household normally opens the gate of the Palace for people to pay their respects to His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej from 5.00 am in the morning up to 21.00 pm at night.
On average, it takes about 8 hours before a person could enter the Dusit Throne Hall to pay respect to the King in front of the royal urn.
But yesterday it took almost 10 hours before mourners were admitted due to complications with queues.
One old woman from Pathumthani Province arrived at Sanam Luang at 2.00 am but was finally able to pay her respects at noon.
Problems arose because officials issuing queue number and those calling out respective queues did not coordinate with each other which resulted in a degree of confusion.
But some people also found their queues being cut and suggested that authorities do a better job.
In any event, despite the problems and the fact that it was extremely hot no one lost their tempers because all who came did so out of their love for His Majesty and wanted to pay their respects.
They stated that they understood that authorities were working very hard and although they had to wait a long time and had people cutting ahead of their queues, were willing to wait.
They said that they understood that people arriving in groups wanted to get in together as it was the same for them.
Meanwhile the military who also arranged the queue also complained of queue jumping.
Officials from the 1st Artillery Unit in charge of crowd control said that problems arose because modifications were made to the queue issuing system and a shortfall of onsite personnel.
Misunderstandings with regards to the number of rows compounded the problem further as officials at the tail end of organized crowds into 3 rows but confusion arose when other officials at the head of the queues somehow had organized people into 4 rows, they explained.
Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)