Royal cremation exhibition may be extended

The government says it will consider whether to extend the exhibition on the royal cremation at Sanam Luang, which is currently scheduled to end on Nov 30.

Government spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd quoted Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha as saying the government would consider requests from the public for an extension, given the huge level of interest in seeing the magnificent site where the cremation of King Rama IX took place on Oct 27.

The site has been open to the public for visits since Thursday, with daily viewing hours from 7am to 10pm. However, the discovery that some visitors had made off with “mementoes” forced authorities to declare parts of the site off-limits just a day after the one-month viewing period began.

Lt Gen Sansern acknowledged that some visitors had acted impolitely or touched items on display, which may cause damage. Given the large number of visitors — up to 56,000 people a day are planned for — officials have to set up a system to ensure order and decorum, he added.

The  — selfie-takers grinning and flashing V signs have also drawn condemnation online — has already resulted in the public being banned from going up to the first and second floors of the crematorium, ending the opportunity to have a closer look at the elaborate decorations.

Visitors are divided into eight groups of 300 and given 45 minutes to an hour to tour the site. Strict screening is still in force as it was at the royal cremation ceremony late last month. 

Everyone is required to show an ID card and pass through five checkpoints: at Tha Chang, near the Mother Earth statue, and in front of the Territorial Defence Department for the public, and outside Thammasat University‘s Tha Phra Chan campus and behind the Defence Ministry.

Lt Gen Sansern said the premier asked all visitors to the exhibitions to follow the rules and recommendations of officials. They should dress and act property and refrain from touching exhibited items.

The prime minister, he said, would like Thais to use this opportunity to learn about the late monarch and what he did for the nation and his subjects, and to admire the magnificent Thai art that has been handed down to the current generation.

“Regarding the proposal from the public to extend the period for visiting the exhibition, the government and related agencies will consider the issue in the future,” he said.

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