Bangkok, Thailand (nsnbc) – Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej made a rare public appearance to celebrate the 65th anniversary of his coronation. The Thai monarch has spent the last months in hospital. King Bhumibol Adulyadej is not only the world’s longest serving monarch but both a figure of national cohesion as well as of renewal and reform.
The 87-year-old Thai monarch left Bangkok hospital where he had spent the last several month, to make a rare public appearance that attracted large crowds, cheering for the king as his motorcade passed by on the way to the Grand Palace.
After arriving at the palace, King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Thai officials attended a Buddhist ceremony. Bhumipol Adulyadey ascended to the throne on May 5, 1950, following the death of his brother.
The 87-year-old king has been bound to a wheelchair for the last few years. He rarely left Bangkok hospital after the surgical removal of his gall bladder in December 2014. His health caused serious concerns when he did not appear in public for his birthday in December.
Although the Thai king has no formal political office the word of the monarch has considerable weight among Thai politicians, public servants as well as among the people of Thailand in general. The monarch played a crucial role in defusing the protests against the regime of the now ousted PM Yingluck Shinawatra and an escalating spiral of violence by militant Shinawatra supporters a.k.a. “red shirts” and their special militant crack troops the “black shirts“.
Ultimately, many would argue that the people powered military ouster of Yingluck Shinawatra and her government who refused to adhere to supreme court rulings, could be conducted peacefully because King Bhumibol Adulyadej intervened and supported an interim military government to help the country break the decades-long cycles of nepotism, corruption, and upheaval.
The ouster of PM Yingluck Shinawatra was the 12th coup in Thailand within 80 years. Reformists, including Professor Dr. Amorn Chandarasomboon, who is a former Secretary General of Thailand’s Council of State, pointed out that the Constitution of Thailand is not democratic at all and that the country urgently needs constitutional reform.
Dr. Amorn Chandarasomboon points, among others at the facts that a Thai MP must be a member of a party and that the PM must be an MP, adding that this alone would result in the concentration of power in the hands of small party elites, and that MP’s are subject to pulling the party line rather than representing their constituency.
It was King Bhumibol Adulyadej who appointed Army Chief Prayuth Chan-ocha as Head of the National Council for Peace and Order. It is worth noting that the majority of Thailand’s population considers the military to be an important and independent national institution.
Although especially western media would tout the situation in Thailand as “royalist military coup”, most Thai would agree that the ouster of the Shinawatra regime in 2014 was a people powered military coup with the endorsement of a monarch who stands as uniting figure for the people; More importantly, the monarch is widely known as a king who puts the interests of Thailand before the interests of foreign powers.
King Bhumibol Adulyadej is also known for encouraging innovative approaches to agriculture and organic farming, a sustainable approach to the use of the country’s resources including the construction of dams and reservoirs as well as he is known for his support for a cohort of charities.
Author: Christof Lehmann
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