Jen Tse (Danish School of Journalism)
Love Your Father
Award of Excellence
When Thais come from near and far to prostrate themselves before a shrine at Bangkok‚Äôs Siriraj hospital, they do it for no god, but a living man. On December 5, 2014, the man‚Äôs 87th birthday, the fervent worship reached its apex. The streets in the hospital‚Äôs proximity were awash with yellow-shirted revelers, transfixed on the upper floors of the building. Only the soldiers, who had cleared paths through the roads, maintained their composure.
At the appearance of a tiny, unidentifiable figure in one of the hospital‚Äôs top windows, the crowd erupted. Even the soldiers abandoned their positions, craning their necks to catch a glimpse. The yellow shirts overtook the streets and the air fluttered with flags, posters, and handmade signs. Grown men cried, and the tears they shed were genuine.
Beloved and revered beyond any other is Bhumibol Adulyadej, also known as Rama IX, the king of Thailand. He is the greatest and longest-serving king Thailand has ever known, having reigned for 68 years, and the longest currently-serving monarch in the world. Most Thais have never been alive under another king. As the nation‚Äôs overarching father figure, his birthday even coincides with Thailand‚Äôs Father‚Äôs Day.
Thais are taught from early childhood to love their king, and that he is the most important human being on earth. Photographs of him are omnipresent across the nation, in books, movie theatres, parks, shops, banks, and other public and private spaces. Stories of his love and generosity are passed down generations, and his achievements are widely praised. There are constant reminders of his greatness, including nightly broadcasts of news about the monarchy.
His 87th birthday celebrations were the largest to date, due to the king's ailing health and old age. Discussing his succession is forbidden, and under Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code, insulting or disrespecting him can result in a 3-15 year jail sentence per c
Story: Love Your Father
A crowd reacts upon seeing a figure in an upper floor window of Bangkok's Siriraj Hospital, believed to be Thailand's king, on his 87th birthday. Having reigned for 68 years, the beloved and revered Bhumibol Adulyadej is the world's longest currently-serving monarch. The 2014 birthday celebrations were the largest to date, due to his ailing health and old age. Insulting or disrespecting the monarchy can result in a 3-15 year jail sentence per count.