King Bhumibol dies leaving Thailand with uncertain future
The King of Thailand, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, died yesterday at the age of 88. He had reigned over Thailand since 1946 and had brought a degree of relative peace to the country. Nevertheless the country has struggled with democracy with the military carrying out successive coup d’états (12 since 1932), the most recent of which was in May 2014 which brought the current military government to power.
The country faces an uncertain future with the Crown Prince, Maha Vajiralongkorn, having nowhere near the same degree of respect or loyalty as that received by the late King. The Crown Prince has asked for a delay to the succession saying that he needs “time to prepare before being proclaimed as the new king”
The statement by the military junta’s Prime Minister, General Prayut Chan-o-cha, as published on the government website is as follows:
“Statement by Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha after the announcement of Royal Household Bureau
To the Thai people in the Kingdom of Thailand and abroad,
The day that all the Thai people have not wanted to think about or hear about is eventually upon us today, as the Bureau of the Royal Household has made the official announcement that His Majesty the King passed away peacefully on the evening of the 13th of October 2559, at Siriraj Hospital. This is the greatest loss and devastation in the lives of the Thai people since the death of King Rama the 8th, on the 9th of June 1946.
The Thai people have been following the news that His Majesty the King was ill and received medical treatment at Siriraj Hospital, and that His Majesty was able to perform His Royal duties when his condition improved on several occasions. Throughout this time, the medical staff tending to His Majesty had done their utmost. However, in the end, His Majesty was not able to recover from his conditions, and passed away at the age of 89, in the 70th year of His Reign.
The 13th of October shall, therefore, be a day of remembrance for the Thai people, as has been King Chulalongkorn Day on 23 October.
Dear people of Thailand,
The 70 year Reign of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej began after the Second World War. Our nation just recovered from this War. The Thai people had full hope when His Majesty the King became our new King. The Thai people were no longer in despair. They stood tall to face various challenges.
Throughout His Majesty’s Reign, our nation had been developed in all areas and His Majesty was loved and deeply revered by all Thai people. For 70 years His Majesty had reigned with righteousness for the benefit and happiness of the Siamese people.
Now, the 70-year reign of His Majesty King Bhumibol the Great has ended. As the benevolence of His Majesty the King for the Thai people has been immeasurable, our profound sorrow and bereavement on this loss shall also be immeasurable.
The Royal Thai Government, therefore, invites Thai people of all faiths to pray, as we did throughout His illness, for His Majesty’s soul to ascend to Heaven and to continue to safeguard the Kingdom of Thailand, all Thai people, and His Majesty’s subjects in peacefulness and tranquility, as Thailand and the Thai people have experienced under His Majesty’s benevolence for the past 70 years.
Dear people of Thailand,
Although we are all in a time of profound sorrow and bereavement, His Majesty’s and our beloved nation must continue to move ahead. We should not let this incident become a hollowness that will impede His Majesty’s strong determination to see our Kingdom prosperous, with His subjects in happiness and with kindness towards one another. The best expression of our bereavement and loyalty to His Majesty is to follow in His Majesty’s footsteps and live up to His Majesty’s aspirations to maintain the independence, sovereignty, and prosperity, as well as to heed His Majesty’s sayings and teachings.
The two significant tasks that must be carried out now are following the constitutional processes and adhering to the Palace Law on Succession of 1924, which complies to Royal Traditions so that our democratic governance with the King as the Head of State continues. The Government will inform the National Legislative Assembly that His Majesty the King had, on the 28th December 1972, appointed the Royal Successor in accordance with the Palace Law on Succession. The National Legislative Assembly will subsequently proceed accordingly.
Another matter for the Government and the people of Thailand is to prepare for the Royal Funeral that will fully reflect the Thai peoples’ deep reverence for His Majesty. The Government will keep the public informed of details of preparations of these two events periodically.
In the next stages, the Government and other relevant agencies will need to undertake several actions in compliance to the laws and Royal Traditions. The Government would like to ask all Thai people to receive only accurate information and official announcements. The Government would like to encourage all the Thai people to wear mourning attire for a period of one year, and for government offices to lower the national flag at half-mast for 30 days. Organising any festive events should be refrained for 30 days.
Citizens may participate in their respective religious ceremonies to offer their blessings, or arrange remembrances in tribute to His Majesty. In this time of grief, we must support and console one another. We should join hands to maintain peace and order in the country and to not allow anyone to exploit this opportunity to cause any conflicts and chaos during this time of national sorrow. We ask that all Thai people come together to bid farewell to His Majesty by safeguarding the Land of our Father, with love and unity.
Dear Thai people,
His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Rama IX, has passed away. Long live His Majesty the new King.”