Thousands of Thais gather to pray for ailing King

O

Oscurito

The news from Bangkok as to the health of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej is getting increasingly grim. His Majesty has not been seen in public in months and has spent the last several weeks battling a series of illnesses in the city's Siriraj Hospital.

The King's son, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, the heir apparent abruptly cancelled an engagement on Wednesday afternoon and arranged an emergency meeting with the country's prime minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha.

Meanwhile, thousands of the King's subjects are gathering outside the hospital fearing the worst but praying for the best. The crowds are wearing yellow and pink; yellow to represent the King and pink as a colour to promote good health and recovery. As the world's longest reigning monarch, his passing would mark a major watershed in Thai, Asian and world history.

It's difficult for westerners to understand the relationship between the Thai king and his subjects. He's far more than a mere constitutional monarch such as we see in the Netherlands or Sweden. In many ways, he defines what the Thai nation is and represents - even superseding the democratic will at times and we have seen examples of this in the last few years when the Thai military intervened to defend the status quo from democratically elected governments.

The nearest analogy I can think of is the traditional Catholic view of the Pope. It doesn't matter what the majority of Catholics think. The leader is supreme.

Sydney Morning Herald: Emergency meeting called as Thais pray for king's 'unstable' health
 


The Field Marshal

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I have been worrying about his Highness,s condition for months now.
 

USER1234

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It's nice that his people think so highly of him that so many would go and pray for him outside the hospital!
 

gerhard dengler

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The news from Bangkok as to the health of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej is getting increasingly grim. His Majesty has not been seen in public in months and has spent the last several weeks battling a series of illnesses in the city's Siriraj Hospital.

The King's son, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, the heir apparent abruptly cancelled an engagement on Wednesday afternoon and arranged an emergency meeting with the country's prime minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha.

Meanwhile, thousands of the King's subjects are gathering outside the hospital fearing the worst but praying for the best. The crowds are wearing yellow and pink; yellow to represent the King and pink as a colour to promote good health and recovery.

It's difficult for westerners to understand the relationship between the Thai king and his subjects. He's far more than a mere constitutional monarch such as we see in the Netherlands or Sweden. In many ways, he defines what the Thai nation is and represents - even superseding the democratic will at times and we have seen examples of this in the last few years when the Thai military intervened to defend the status quo from democratically elected governments.

The nearest analogy I can think of is the traditional Catholic view of the Pope. It doesn't matter what the majority of Catholics think. The leader is supreme.

Sydney Morning Herald: Emergency meeting called as Thais pray for king's 'unstable' health
Great OP.

I wouldn't have believed the esteem in which the people hold the King of Thailand, if I had not visited that country and spoken to the ordinary people about the society.

I remember being in central Bangkok and it's 6 lane freeway, which is normally choco with motor vehicles, being cleared totally of traffic as the ambulance bringing the King to hospital drove by at a rate of knots and the people stood at the side of the dual carriage way bowing.
The man has almost deity like devotion of the people.

When he passes away, what will be in store for Thailand? A great people and a great nation.
 
O

Oscurito

I have been worrying about his Highness,s condition for months now.
He's one of the old-school monarchs: serious, self-effacing, very dignified in public, restrained to the point of completely subverting his own personality. He's led his country through some incredible crises and sometimes was the only point of unity around whom all Thais could congregate.

People speak of the privilege of royalty but they often forget the weight of responsibility which is much harder to express, never mind justify - being based on something far more ethereal than a majority of votes in an election.
 
O

Oscurito

Great OP.

I wouldn't have believed the esteem in which the people hold the King of Thailand, if I had not visited that country and spoken to the ordinary people about the society.

I remember being in central Bangkok and it's 6 lane freeway, which is normally choco with motor vehicles, being cleared totally of traffic as the ambulance bringing the King to hospital drove by at a rate of knots and the people stood at the side of the dual carriage way bowing.
The man has almost deity like devotion of the people.

When he passes away, what will be in store for Thailand? A great people and a great nation.
The devotion is indeed deity-like and woe betide any clueless western lout who shows disrespect to His Majesty's image.

Swiss faces 75 years for insulting Thai king - SWI swissinfo.ch
 

gerhard dengler

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O

Oscurito

Deity like devotion is one aspect.
But in several trips to that part of the world and from speaking to people, it's my view that there is genuine affection among the people for their sovereign.
Oh, absolutely. They do love him as a human being: it's not like what we know as worship. Buddhism is unlike Christianity, Judaism and Islam in that they don't believe in a creator God, not do they pray to an interventionist God in the way that believers in those three religions do.

So, in any case, whatever form the worship or adulation takes, it's quite unlike what we'd know as religious adoration.
 

Erudite Caveman

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Deity like devotion is one aspect.
But in several trips to that part of the world and from speaking to people, it's my view that there is genuine affection among the people for their sovereign.
Based on what though? It's not like they know the man. In reality they are just fond of a cultural entity, not a person.
 

GDPR

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The news from Bangkok as to the health of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej is getting increasingly grim. His Majesty has not been seen in public in months and has spent the last several weeks battling a series of illnesses in the city's Siriraj Hospital.

The King's son, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, the heir apparent abruptly cancelled an engagement on Wednesday afternoon and arranged an emergency meeting with the country's prime minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha.

Meanwhile, thousands of the King's subjects are gathering outside the hospital fearing the worst but praying for the best. The crowds are wearing yellow and pink; yellow to represent the King and pink as a colour to promote good health and recovery. As the world's longest reigning monarch, his passing would mark a major watershed in Thai, Asian and world history.

It's difficult for westerners to understand the relationship between the Thai king and his subjects. He's far more than a mere constitutional monarch such as we see in the Netherlands or Sweden. In many ways, he defines what the Thai nation is and represents - even superseding the democratic will at times and we have seen examples of this in the last few years when the Thai military intervened to defend the status quo from democratically elected governments.

The nearest analogy I can think of is the traditional Catholic view of the Pope. It doesn't matter what the majority of Catholics think. The leader is supreme.

Sydney Morning Herald: Emergency meeting called as Thais pray for king's 'unstable' health
I wish him well. A good king is infinitely better than a bad democratic régime (and all democratic régimes are bad).
 

GDPR

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He's one of the old-school monarchs: serious, self-effacing, very dignified in public, restrained to the point of completely subverting his own personality. He's led his country through some incredible crises and sometimes was the only point of unity around whom all Thais could congregate.

People speak of the privilege of royalty but they often forget the weight of responsibility which is much harder to express, never mind justify - being based on something far more ethereal than a majority of votes in an election.
I have the utmost respect for His Imperial Highness the Emperor of Japan. He is of pure Japanese blood, and he married a lady of pure blood, thus reminding all Japanese people of their noble heritage and their duty to the future. No doubt, that is why they have not allowed themselves to be swamped with mass immigration.
 

Dub01

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How many coups did he order over the years?
 

petaljam

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The news from Bangkok as to the health of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej is getting increasingly grim. His Majesty has not been seen in public in months and has spent the last several weeks battling a series of illnesses in the city's Siriraj Hospital.

The King's son, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, the heir apparent abruptly cancelled an engagement on Wednesday afternoon and arranged an emergency meeting with the country's prime minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha.

Meanwhile, thousands of the King's subjects are gathering outside the hospital fearing the worst but praying for the best. The crowds are wearing yellow and pink; yellow to represent the King and pink as a colour to promote good health and recovery. As the world's longest reigning monarch, his passing would mark a major watershed in Thai, Asian and world history.

It's difficult for westerners to understand the relationship between the Thai king and his subjects. He's far more than a mere constitutional monarch such as we see in the Netherlands or Sweden. In many ways, he defines what the Thai nation is and represents - even superseding the democratic will at times and we have seen examples of this in the last few years when the Thai military intervened to defend the status quo from democratically elected governments.

The nearest analogy I can think of is the traditional Catholic view of the Pope. It doesn't matter what the majority of Catholics think. The leader is supreme.

Sydney Morning Herald: Emergency meeting called as Thais pray for king's 'unstable' health
I thought the problem was that the heir is almost as unpopular as the king is loved. If so, why would that change when he becomes king?
 

GDPR

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I wish him well. A good king is infinitely better than a bad democratic régime (and all democratic régimes are bad).
Two of the worst things about things about our current set up here in the West are disrespect for the past (which easily turns into disrespect for the elderly) and connected to it an almost pathological "short termism", two things exactly that a Monarch who in any way really manifests the "Archtype" of Monarchy undermines. I for one will also be praying for his Majesty.
 

gerhard dengler

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Based on what though? It's not like they know the man. In reality they are just fond of a cultural entity, not a person.
In my opinion, their esteem for their King is based on the fact that his personal behaviour appears to be beyond reproach.

I've been told that in his public speeches the King stress values such as compassion, mutual wellbeing of citizens, honesty, respecting the rule of law, equality and righteousness, integrity. And that his personal behaviour actually conforms to all of these virtues.

I've also been told that the monarch is a unifying force who the people look too. He's above politics and this independence is highly respected by the people of Thailand. These are the views of the local people who I've spoken to over there (in an earlier life, the sector I worked in did a lot of work in that region of the world, so it's somewhere where I've had a lot of dealings with during that time).
 
O

Oscurito

I thought the problem was that the heir is almost as unpopular as the king is loved. If so, why would that change when he becomes king?
The death of the current king would be mourned anyway. As to the Crown Prince, I don't think it's correct to say that he's loathed as much as the current king is loved. He's less loved, certainly. Some of this is due to the activities of his third wife and her family.

He has close ties to Thaksin Shinawatra so it's not unreasonable to assume that he has some support amongst the red shirts although that would count as a huge negative amongst the urban elites.

He may be more of a polarising figure. To be honest, while your question makes it sound like I've taken a strong position on him, I actually avoided any substantive comment on him because it's difficult to know what the reaction of Thai society will be.
 
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