BANGKOK — A Facebook user claimed he witnessed a hardline royalist throwing water at cinema-goers who refused to stand up for the Royal Anthem.
According to multiple posts published by user Bundit Tunsuchart, the incident took place during Monday’s evening screening of Disney’s “Mulan” at a movie theater inside CentralFestival Chiangmai.
“While the anthem was played, the uncle suddenly splashed water from a cup onto the two youths who were sitting,” Bundit said. “My girlfriend took a little hit. I could hear the man taunting the youths why they didn’t stand up.”
Bundit said the man demanded an explanation as to why they refused to stand up before a woman who came with the man brought him out of the theater.
“Those who didn’t stand up, if you guys have any problem, follow me,” the man was quoted as saying. Bundit did not respond to messages of inquiry as of publication time.
ชายมีอายุที่เชียงใหม่ไปดูหนังกับภรรยา ถือวิสาสะสาดน้ำอัดลมใส่คนที่ไม่ยืนเพลงสรรเสริญฯ pic.twitter.com/s4ckCwdd5K
— สหาย (@opol999) September 7, 2020
Cinemas typically asked the audience to stand up for the Royal Anthem music video before each screening. But anecdotes in recent weeks suggest many choose to forego the tradition and sit through the anthem instead.
The trend didn’t sit well with some hardline royalists, who saw it as a disrespect to the monarchy.
One such supporter of the monarchy filmed himself ranting about several people who failed to stand up for the anthem at a cinema.
The clip uploaded to YouTube by “Motorcycle Indie” also showed the man asking a cinema employee what action was to be taken against those who refused to pay respect to the anthem.
“Excuse me, if I see people who don’t stand up for the Royal Anthem, what should I do?” the man asked.
“You can notify staff members,” an employee replied. “But we can’t do anything against them. Customers may choose to wait outside.”
The man, who called himself “admin,” then suggested to the camera that people should sing the anthem aloud in defiance of the cinema’s inaction. He did not identify where the incident took place.
Contrary to popular belief, refusal to stand for the Royal Anthem is not a punishable charge under any law – the offense was repealed in 2010 – though some bystanders may still file complaints of royal defamation against the individuals.
In 1978, the Supreme Court sentenced a man to two years in prison under the royal insult charge for shouting “What the hell is this song?” when the anthem was played at an anti-Communist rally.
But the court in 2008 acquitted another man accused of not standing up for the anthem, citing his mental condition. A pro-democracy activist was also charged with lese majeste in 2007 for sitting through the Royal Anthem, but the prosecutors eventually dropped the charge.