Thursday, December 05, 2013

Thai Demonstrators Pull Back To Honor King on His 86th Birthday

The speech is in Thai, but you can hear how weak the King is as he reads it.  It's slow.  I'll try to get a translation up when I find one. 

New Mandela's analysis of the speech begins:

"King Bhumibol Adulyadej delivered the much-anticipated speech this morning to mark his 86th birthday anniversary at his seaside residence in Hua Hin. Evidently frail, the King managed to read the script throughout, though at time some parts were lost and inaudible. With his shaky voice, the King emphasised what seems to be a traditional quality of the Thai people: unity. He said (unofficial translation by author
 Thailand has been a peaceful nation for a long time; this is because of the existence of national solidarity and because members of society have performed their duty in a complementary manner with each other for the interest of the whole nation. Thais ought to recognise this (situation?) and must continue to perform at the best of their intention for the achievement of common interest; that is safety and security of the Thai nation."
The rest is at the link.

The King has been the rock of Thailand over his long reign (the longest of any monarch in the world today.)  When I was a Peace Corps volunteer I saw him on a few occasions when he celebrated holidays.  I particularly remember a plowing ceremony in Bangkok.

Throughout his life he traveled the country and met with farmers and hill tribe members and worked to improve their lives.

You'll notice all the yellow shirts among the people.  Yellow is the King's color.  Those supporting the current prime minister Yinluck Shinnawat, the sister of ousted prime Shnawat, wear red shirts.  This group challenges the future of the monarchy and what happens when the King dies is speculated by all.  The Prince who is next in-line has led a pretty wild life and is not terribly respected by many Thais.

But on the King's birthday, Thais on all sides, back off their conflict in respect for the King. 

Below is a short excerpt from a video biography of the King focused on his ascension to the thrown in 1946.  It includes an interview with the King about his brother's death which led to him becoming King.

Here's last year's speech.

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