BANGKOK — Each morning in her market stall in the Bangkok Noi district of the Thai capital, Jintana Rapsomruay rolls balls of dough into a snack known for its resemblance to the eggs of an oversize lizard. The sweet treat, which looks like a doughnut hole, was supposedly invented by a consort of the first king of the Chakri Dynasty, which continues to reign 240 years later.
The 18th-century monarch liked to nosh on the eggs of water monitor lizards, so the story goes, but the concubine couldn’t get her hands on any, so she substituted dough stuffed with sweet bean paste. The king — among whose accomplishments was moving the Thai capital to its present location — was pleased.
The snack remains popular to this day, but Ms. Jintana can barely get by. Like millions of Thais struggling amid the coronavirus pandemic, her income has plummeted by half.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, a former military chief and leader of the 2014 coup — approved the Royal Society’s ruling with its own decree, making a parenthetical Bangkok the law of the land.
The shift from semicolon to parentheses has provoked public dissatisfaction. But it’s not the name itself to which anyone really objects; the capital is universally known to Thai speakers as Krung Thep, or, by the initials “Kor Tor Mor.”
Rather, the way an elite clique did the update is what bothered some in a populace that appears increasingly unwilling to accept diktats from royalist, tradition-bound institutions.
turned up dead. Dozens of young protest leaders have been imprisoned.
Prosecutions of royal defamation have increased sharply, with a former civil servant sentenced last year to more than four decades in prison. Some protest leaders have called for the monarchy to submit to the Constitution and are now facing, collectively, hundreds of years in prison for lèse-majesté, which criminalizes criticism of senior members of the royal family.