Category: Thai monarchy

King Bhumibol Adulyadej 1927-2016

 

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A few selected links from Denis Gray, Paul Handley, and Christine Gray reflecting on the death of Thailand’s King Bhumibol after a 70 year reign:

Denis Gray described his encounter with Bhumibol on a trip up north with him:

The king clearly savored such encounters, bantering with rural dwellers and trying to solve their problems, even marital ones. He once told me the story of a hilltribesman whose wife ran away after he had purchased her with two pigs. The king decided the husband deserved compensation which would allow her freedom. “The only trouble was I gave the money,” he joked. “So the woman belonged to me.”

Paul Handley offered a more sober account of Bhumibol’s reign:

Yet like Tito, Bhumibol failed at securing a stable future for his kingdom. He had made his throne dependent on its alliance with the military, an institution that remains thoroughly corrupt and convinced of its right to arbitrate power. Amid this, the other key institutions of a modern parliamentary democracy have shriveled.

While Christine Gray was more optimistic:

The end of Bhumibol’s reign is an incredible historical moment, one of genuine grief for the late king, if not for opportunities missed during his reign. But also an opportunity for change.

 


Sangwan

Another great video about Thai royalist ritual, this time in light of the death of Sangwan, King Bhumiphol’s commoner mother.  Her humility and humble origins offer a refreshing respite to the relentless rituals and glorification of the world she inherited.  The narrator’s retelling of Rama IX’s reign is also interesting with its take on the role of the military.  Sulak Sivaraksa, as always, offers illuminating commentary.