Viet Nam News
The longest-reigning monarch won the devotion of his subjects with his commitment to their welfare
HIS MAJESTY King Bhumibol Adulyadej rose to the greatest heights in modern Thai history and was, in his lifetime, the pillar and soul of his nation.
Like his grandfather King Rama V, His Majesty made enormous contributions to his country, commanding deep love and loyalty from his people. He was the guiding light, helping his Kingdom in times of crisis time and again.
During his seven-decade-long reign, His Majesty peacefully defused several political situations, such as the tumult in October 1973 and Black May in 1992 - something no Thai politician was able to accomplish then or later.
His reign spanned the terms of more than 30 governments, several military regimes, coups and numerous coup attempts, and even the defeat of the communist threat that raged through Southeast Asia a few decades ago.
At the time of his passing yesterday, he was the world’s longest-reigning monarch and had been recognised with several international awards for his contributions in various fields. Among the honours were the UNDP Human Development Lifetime Achievement Award, Time magazine’s "Asian Hero King Bhumibol Adulyadej for Shaping the Asia of Our Times" and the World Intellectual Property Organisation Global Leaders Award.
In an unprecedented gathering of royalty, the kings, queens and royal representatives from 26 countries arrived at the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall in Bangkok in 2006 to pay tribute to His Majesty on the 60th anniversary of his accession to the throne.
In Thailand, he was considered the father of many innovations and technology.
These accolades, however, pale before his significance to the Thai people - he was their inspiration, their leading light, and the King of their hearts.
His Majesty won the hearts of his subjects because he fully honoured his oath of accession: "We shall reign with righteousness, for the benefits and happiness of the Siamese people." This oath was taken on the day of his coronation in 1950, when His Majesty was just 23.
Born on December 5, 1927 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, His Majesty was the third and youngest child of Their Royal Highnesses Prince Mahidol of Songkhla and Princess Srinagarindra. He spent much of his childhood overseas, visiting Thailand sometimes with his older brother King Ananda Mahidol to see their country and their elderly grandmother HM Queen Savang Vadhana.
The younger royal never expected to become a monarch, but had to take over after his brother’s untimely death on June 9, 1946.
He was once quoted as saying after his brother’s death: "I had never thought of becoming a king. I only wanted be your younger brother".
After King Ananda’s passing, the course of the younger royal’s life changed completely. He had to change his subject of education from science to political science and law, so he could equip himself with proper knowledge for his reign.
After completing his education in Switzerland, His Majesty returned for the royal coronation and faithful devotion to his country and his people. For most of his reign, His Majesty travelled the length and breadth of the Kingdom, visiting the poorest and remotest corners to learn about the problems faced by his people.
During his travels, the beloved monarch spoke to his subjects and most importantly, listened to them. He learned of their needs and problems first hand and set about trying to find a way to give immediate help, before studying the issue in depth to find a permanent solution.
He had to stop making these trips only after his health began to fail. Yet, even during his time at Siriraj Hospital, the beloved monarch read reports on issues affecting his people and gave advice when he could.
Since 1952, His Majesty initiated more than 3,000 innovative programmes in agriculture, environment, public health, water resources, communications, public welfare, occupational promotion and education with the aim of easing the lives of Thai people.
He also actively promoted sustainable development and the philosophy of sufficiency economy.
His Majesty passed away peacefully at the age of 89 yesterday. He is survived by Her Majesty Queen Sirikit and their four children.
His death has plunged the nation into mourning. But the revered monarch will live in the hearts of Thai people forever. — THE NATION