Thailand is experiencing a crisis of unimaginable proportions. With an on-going political mess, a political vacuum (the government was disbanded by the Thai Constitutional Court this week), the tourist industry damaged by the PAD’s action shutting down Bangkok’s airports, and the Thai export industry also in trouble – Thais were waiting for their King to speak to them yesterday. But he didn’t.
The King of Thailand, Bhumibol Adulyadej, is much loved in Thailand. Respected almost like a living god, the King of Thailand is listened to by all Thais whenever he speaks. On Thursday, the day before his 81st birthday, he was expected to give his annual birthday speech to the Thai nation. It was with great disappointment therefore that Thais learned King Bhumibol would not be speaking.
At the appointed speech time, instead of being able to listen to His Majesty the King, television audiences were given a short speech by his son, His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn. The Crown Prince said, due to illness the King of Thailand would not be speaking.
This was followed by a statement by his daughter, Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, who said the King was “mildly ill”.
She said the King “has a blockage in his throat and a poor appetite” (in some news articles, this was also translated as the King has a “lot of phlegm in his throat”, which is actually more likely than ‘a blockage’).
In more than six decades on the throne, the King of Thailand has never missed giving a speech, so for Thais to learn that the King is ill is causing a lot of concern.
The King of Thailand is 81 years old. He has had continuing problems with his health over the last few years and, every time it is announced he is ill, Thais worry.
It has also just been reported that the expected meeting on Monday morning to choose a new Prime Minister has been postponed. Which also adds another dimension to the ongoing political crisis as Thailand continues to be missing an actual government.
Hopefully, King Bhumipol will recover quickly and feel better than ever before.
Most Thais feel that the country needs some direction from their revered King. They don’t trust the politicians who are wrestling for power, they don’t trust the military and they don’t trust the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD). The King of Thailand is the only one they trust, the only one left who, most Thais feel, can solve the deepening problems of this nation and get Thailand back on the right path.
On this day, December 5th, 2008, we wish King Bhumipol Adulyadej a very happy 81st birthday and hope he will recover soon.