From Emirates’ transparent cabin roof- Skylounge to Hong Kong Airlines’ new menu of serving BBQ duck on board, we all enjoy a good laugh on April’s fool. However, this particular airline’s tweet sparked outrage in Thailand for alleged lèse majesté, infringing the country’s royal insult law.

Thailand-based LCC Thai Vietjet Air tweeted on Friday that they will start operating a new route between the city of Nan and Munich, Germany. The tweet sparked widespread criticism on social media and was deleted within hours. Despite the announcement being hashtagged #aprilfoolsday, the tweet went viral and the airline apologized on Saturday suggesting the airline’s management has nothing to do with it and had ordered the tweet to be removed immediately upon noticing the incident.

The city of Nan to Munich

The tweet showed in the Thai language that Thai Vietjet will be commencing a direct flight from the city of Nan to Munich for USD 30 per trip. The promotional image also showed a city view of Munich and presumably a country-side picture of the city of Nan, Thailand’s former administrative capital, with the hashtag #aprilfoolsday on the bottom left corner. You may ask, so what is the big deal?

Commenters suggested the tweet is an obvious mockery of King Maha Vajiralongkorn as he likes to reside in Germany’s countryside. However, some oblivious foreign commenters are also puzzled by the implicit meaning of the particular prank.

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The deleted April fool’s tweet shows the promotion of a new service from Nan to Munich|©ThaiVietJet

The Controversial King Rama X

The reigning King of Thailand King Maha Vajiralongkorn, a.k.a. King Rama X, ascended to his throne in 2016. Since his coronation, there have been numerous controversies surrounding his private life. Whilst some publicists accused the King of being erratic and unpredictable, the majesty spends most of his time privately in Bavaria, Germany. The German Foreign Ministry has expressed its concerns about a foreign ruler “having guests in our country who run their state affairs from here.” But the Thai ambassador had defended the allegation stating that King Rama is staying in Germany for purely personal reasons.

 

Strictest Lèse Majesté Laws in the world

Thailand has one of the strictest lèse majesté laws to date. According to section 112 of the Thai Criminal Code, it is illegal to defame, insult and threaten the monarch of Thailand. The law extended to internet content after plans enforced by the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology to block all websites with content related to the defaming of the royal family back in 2008.

The law entitles violators to be punished with imprisonment from three to fifteen years and it has been in force on an occasional basis in the country. Extreme royalist Srisuwan Janya has stated on Sunday that he will file a lèse majesté complaint against the airline’s tweet while the CEO of Thai VietJet said they would seek a royal pardon over the stir-up. The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) had also expressed its intention for summoning the airline but did not specify the topic of discussion.

Did you think Thai VietJet went too far for an April fool’s joke? Let us know in the comments below. Find out more aviation stories in Asia: here

 

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