5 December 2012 - H.M. The King of Thailand - Happy Birthday


*


H.M. The King of Thailand


*



Happy Birthday!


*


G'day guys,


Today is the 85th birthday of the King of Thailand - an amazing man. One of many photographs on my lounge room walls is that of the Thai King, wearing a pink jacket. On my right wrist is a pink-coloured band that states, "Do good things for our King'. I bought it in Bangkok some years back. This man has always been depicted with a camera hanging around his neck. Yes, a photographer, and also a musician. So, who is the King?


Bhumibol Adulyadej is the reigning King of Thailand - known as Rama IX. Having reigned since 9 June 1946, he is the world's longest-serving current head of state and the longest-reigning monarch in Thai history.

Bhumipol Adulyadej (pronounced: Boomipon Adun Yadet) was born December 5, 1928 in Cambridge, Massachesetts, where his father was studying Public Health at Harvard. He returned to Bangkok briefly, but in 1933 his mother took him and his younger brother to Switzerland where they stayed until the end of the Second World War. Bhumipol ascended the throne, following the death of his brother, on June 9, 1946. He returned to Switzerland to complete his studies, leaving an uncle to act as regent in his absence. It was in Switzerland that he met and married his wife Queen Sirikit. Following this he returned to Thailand where the official coronation ceremony took place on May 5, 1950. This date is celebrated every year in Thailand as Coronation Day, a public holiday.

His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej ascended to the throne on 9 June 1946 and has reigned Thailand ever since. The birthday of King Bhumibol Adulyadej is observed as Father’s Day, as well as a national holiday in Thailand, while the birthday of Queen Sirikit, King Bhumibol’s birthday, is commemorated as Thailand’s Mother’s Day which is also a public holiday.

*



*


During the celebration of H.M. the King’s Birthday in Thailand, some large portraits of the King are displayed throughout the country. Flags, banners, and lamps, are also set as a decoration along many streets in Thailand to celebrate King’s Birthday as an honor to H.M. the King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Besides those decorations, parades, musical concerts, festivals, and street market are also organized during H.M. the King’s Birthday celebration. Since the event is observed as a public holiday, most Thailand employees are granted a day off so that they are able to enjoy the festive atmosphere of the King’s birthday.

H.M. the King’s Birthday is known as Father’s Day in Thailand. Thus, many people in Thailand pay respect to their father during the day by giving the fathers gifts or taking them to dinner at a restaurant.

Royal Projects:

King Bhumipol has tried to move a once marginalized monarchy onto centre stage, partly by reviving public royal ceremonies like the Royal Barge Procession, and the Royal Ploughing Ceremony, but also through the pursuit of royal projects aimed at the development of Thailand and the improvement of people’s living standards. He is particularly associated with rural development projects such as the crop substitution program ordered to wean hill tribe people from the cultivation of opium poppies. Flowers and temperate zone vegetables from these projects are available for sale all over Thailand, but particularly in Chiang Mai. He also set up the Chaipattana Foundation to promote a self–sufficiency economy for Thailand.

*




*



Royal Children


King Bhumipol has four children, Princess Ubolratana, the Crown Prince, Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn (popularly known as Phra Teep or Princess Angel), and Princess Chulabhorn Walailak. .

Thailand Royal Powers


Compared to other constitutional monarchs, the King of Thailand enjoys additional reserve powers and can veto legislation by refusing to sign it into law. He also enjoys huge influence, partly through the system of patronage that characterizes Thailand’s political system, but mainly through his enormous popularity and personal prestige. On occasion he has used this power to influence events, for example during the coup of 1992, when the main protagonists were summoned to the palace for a televised lecture on the need for national unity.

I witnessed that event whilst in Bangkok. Two men entered the palace smiling, and left with ashen faces.

*




*



Lese Majeste Laws in Thailand


Another divergence from some, but by no means all constitutional monarchies, is that any criticism of the Thai King is absolutely forbidden and can attract harsh penalties through the prohibition against lèse majesté. The King himself is unable to defend himself, and there are no laws which provide him an opportunity to contradict any defamatory statements.

Foreigners in particular should avoid any criticism of the throne. For those foreigners who are in the habit of loudly criticizing their own monarchs, this will not go over well in Thailand. Thailand has a more respectful and face-based culture and direct criticism and negativity is seen as poor manners, or worse.

*



*


Clancy's comment: Happy birthday Your Majesty.

In all my travels, I've never come across a person who was, and is, so highly revered. Seventy million Thai people adore their King. Personally, I was very cognisant of the above law when I wrote 'Pa Joe's Place' - story of an eight-year-old girl I met many years ago - Boo. So, what did I do? Sadly, I withdrew all mention of the King. However, I will write a forward to honour the Thai King and have it approved by Thai diplomatic friends before my book is published.

My aim with 'Pa Joe's Place' is quite simple. I want it translated and published in Thailand.  A very good friend, Anchansiri Sriyananda, will translate it for me, and for some time, I have been working with officials in Thailand to have the book introduced to Thai kids. In so doing, I'm prepared to forego a majority of my royalties so that Thai kids can afford to purchase my book - to encourage them to read. Not only but also, I would love my plan to be one of the King's Projects. Wish me luck.

*



*


I'm ...