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Bhumibol Adulyadej

Bhumibol Adulyadej

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Bhumibol Adulyadej is the current King of Thailand. He is known as Rama IX (and within the Thai royal family and to close associates simply as Lek). Having reigned since 9 June 1946, he is the world's longest-serving current head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

 and the longest-reigning monarch in Thai history
History of Thailand
Tai peoples who originally lived in southwestern China, migrated into mainland Southeast Asia over a period of many centuries. The oldest known mention of their existence in the region by the exonym Siamese is in a twelfth-century A.D. inscription at the Khmer temple complex of Angkor Wat in...

. He was admitted to Siriraj Hospital
Siriraj Hospital
Siriraj Hospital is the oldest hospital in Thailand, located in Bangkok on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River, opposite Thammasat University's Tha Phrachan campus...

 in September 2009 for flu and pneumonia
Pneumonia
Pneumonia is an inflammatory condition of the lung—especially affecting the microscopic air sacs —associated with fever, chest symptoms, and a lack of air space on a chest X-ray. Pneumonia is typically caused by an infection but there are a number of other causes...

. Rumors about his ill-health caused Thai financial markets to tumble in October 2009.

Although Bhumibol is legally a constitutional monarch
Constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy is a form of government in which a monarch acts as head of state within the parameters of a constitution, whether it be a written, uncodified or blended constitution...

, and is not legally allowed a role in politics, he has made several decisive interventions in the Thai political sphere
Politics of Thailand
The politics of Thailand are currently conducted within the framework of a constitutional monarchy, whereby the Prime Minister is the head of government and a hereditary monarch is head of state. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislative branches.Thai kingdoms and late...

. He was credited with facilitating Thailand's transition to democracy in the 1990s, although he has supported numerous military regimes, including Sarit Dhanarajata's
Sarit Dhanarajata
Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat , was a Thai career soldier who staged a coup in 1957, thereafter serving as Thailand's Prime Minister until his death in 1963. He was born in Bangkok, but grew up in his mother's home town in Lao-speaking northeastern Thailand and considered himself a northeasterner...

 during the 1960s and the Council for National Security in 2006–8. During his long reign, he has authorized over 15 coups, 16 constitutions, and 27 changes of prime ministers. He has also used his influence to stop military coups, including attempts in 1981 and 1985. Bhumibol is advised by a hand-picked Privy Council
Privy Council (Thailand)
The Privy Council of Thailand is a body of appointed advisors to the Monarch of Thailand: King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand. The Council, as the Constitution of Thailand stipulates, must be composed of no more than eighteen members...

, many members of which have themselves made controversial forays into politics.

Bhumibol is respected by many Thais, although conservative royalists
Abhisit Vejjajiva
Abhisit Vejjajiva , , ; born Mark Abhisit Vejjajiva; 3 August 1964 in Newcastle upon Tyne) is a Thai politician who was the 27th Prime Minister of Thailand from 2008 to 2011 and is the current leader of the Democrat Party...

 have claimed that there are widespread threats to overthrow the monarchy. Bhumibol is legally considered "inviolable", and insults
Lèse majesté
Lese-majesty is the crime of violating majesty, an offence against the dignity of a reigning sovereign or against a state.This behavior was first classified as a criminal offence against the dignity of the Roman republic in Ancient Rome...

, claims that he is involved in politics, and criticism of him can result in three to fifteen years in jail. Although he claimed in a 2005 speech that he was not offended by lèse majesté
Lèse majesté
Lese-majesty is the crime of violating majesty, an offence against the dignity of a reigning sovereign or against a state.This behavior was first classified as a criminal offence against the dignity of the Roman republic in Ancient Rome...

, thousands have been jailed and several governments overthrown due to alleged insults.

Bhumibol is credited with a social-economic theory of self-sufficiency
Localism in Thailand
The chief proponent of localism in Thailand or moso is King Bhumibol Adulyadej's "the philosophy of Sufficiency Economy". The foundations of King Bhumibol's theory included sustainability, moderation and broad-based development...

. His personal wealth is tremendous: Forbes
Forbes
Forbes is an American publishing and media company. Its flagship publication, the Forbes magazine, is published biweekly. Its primary competitors in the national business magazine category are Fortune, which is also published biweekly, and Business Week...

 estimated Bhumibol's personal fortune, some of which is managed by the Crown Property Bureau to be US$30 billion in 2010. He is the wealthiest man in Thailand and the world's wealthiest royal. He currently holds major shares in several private companies, including, more than 40% in Sammakorn, 30% in SCG
Siam Cement
The Siam Cement Public Company Limited or SCG is the largest cement company in Thailand. It is listed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand. In 2011, it was also ranked as the 2nd largest company in Thailand and the 620th largest company in the world by Forbes 2000.It was founded under the Royal...

, 30% in Thai Insurance PLC and 20% in SCB
Siam Commercial Bank
Siam Commercial Bank is a bank from Thailand, based in Bangkok.- History :Established by Royal Charter in 1907, Siam Commercial Bank PCL was Thailand's first bank. At the time of its establishment, the only banks in the country were branch offices of foreign banks...

. The Crown Property Bureau claims that its wealth is held in trust for the Thai nation; however, this claim is controversial, and the exact value of its assets is confidential and reported to only Bhumibol. Bhumibol himself has made donations to numerous development projects in Thailand, in areas including agriculture, environment, public health, occupational promotion, water resources, communications and public welfare. Commemoration of Bhumibol's contributions to Thailand are ubiquitous in the Thai media.

Early life



Bhumibol was born at the Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, Massachusetts
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Cambridge is a city in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States, in the Greater Boston area. It was named in honor of the University of Cambridge in England, an important center of the Puritan theology embraced by the town's founders. Cambridge is home to two of the world's most prominent...

, in the United States on 5 December 1927. He was the younger son of HRH Prince Mahidol Adulyadej
Mahidol Adulyadej
Mahitaladhibes Adulyadejvikrom, the Prince Father , or officially styled Mahidol Adulyadej, Prince of Songkla was the father of King Ananda Mahidol and King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand. He was also regarded as the father of modern medicine and public health of Thailand...

 and Mom Sangwan
Srinagarindra
Srinagarindra was a member of the Thai Royal Family and was a member of House of Mahidol, which is descended from Chakri Dynasty, originated by Prince Mahidol Adulyadej, the Prince of Songkla, son of King Chulalongkorn...

 (later HRH Princess Srinagarindra, the Princess Mother: Somdet Phra Si Nakharinthra Boromaratchachonnani). His name, Bhumibol Adulyadej, means "Strength of the Land, Incomparable Power".

Bhumibol came to Thailand in 1928, after Prince Mahidol obtained a certificate in the Public Health programme at Harvard University. He briefly attended Mater Dei
Mater Dei Institute
Mater Dei is a school which as of now is currently run by the Sisters of the Ursuline Order, owing a total area of and 3 buildings. It is a catholic girl school, which is held from K3 to G12. The average room student capacity is about 36 students. In addition, a grade level is divided into 4 rooms...

 school in Bangkok
Bangkok
Bangkok is the capital and largest urban area city in Thailand. It is known in Thai as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon or simply Krung Thep , meaning "city of angels." The full name of Bangkok is Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom...

 but in 1933 his mother took the family to Switzerland, where he continued his education at the Ecole Nouvelle de la Suisse Romande
Ecole Nouvelle de la Suisse Romande
Ecole Nouvelle de la Suisse Romande is a co-educational private school located in Lausanne, Switzerland. The school was established in 1906. It contains boarding facilities.-References:* , from the ENSR web page...

 in Lausanne
Lausanne
Lausanne is a city in Romandy, the French-speaking part of Switzerland, and is the capital of the canton of Vaud. The seat of the district of Lausanne, the city is situated on the shores of Lake Geneva . It faces the French town of Évian-les-Bains, with the Jura mountains to its north-west...

. He received the baccalauréat
Baccalauréat
The baccalauréat , often known in France colloquially as le bac, is an academic qualification which French and international students take at the end of the lycée . It was introduced by Napoleon I in 1808. It is the main diploma required to pursue university studies...

 des lettres
(high-school diploma with major in French literature
French literature
French literature is, generally speaking, literature written in the French language, particularly by citizens of France; it may also refer to literature written by people living in France who speak traditional languages of France other than French. Literature written in French language, by citizens...

, Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

, and Greek) from the Gymnase Classique Cantonal of Lausanne
Lausanne
Lausanne is a city in Romandy, the French-speaking part of Switzerland, and is the capital of the canton of Vaud. The seat of the district of Lausanne, the city is situated on the shores of Lake Geneva . It faces the French town of Évian-les-Bains, with the Jura mountains to its north-west...

, and by 1945 had begun studying science at the University of Lausanne
University of Lausanne
The University of Lausanne in Lausanne, Switzerland was founded in 1537 as a school of theology, before being made a university in 1890. Today about 12,000 students and 2200 researchers study and work at the university...

, when World War II ended and the family returned to Thailand.

Succession and marriage


Bhumibol ascended the throne following the death by gunshot wound of his brother, King Ananda Mahidol
Ananda Mahidol
Ananda Mahidol was the eighth monarch of Thailand under the House of Chakri. At the time he was recognized as king by the National Assembly, in March 1935, he was a nine-year-old boy living in Switzerland. He returned to Thailand in December 1945. Six months later, in June 1946, he was found shot...

, on 9 June 1946, in mysterious circumstances, prompting suggestions that Bhumibol had been involved in or responsible for his death. Bhumibol returned to Switzerland in order to complete his education, and his uncle, Rangsit, Prince of Chainat
Rangsit, Prince of Chainat
Rangsit Prayurasakdi, Prince of Chainat or Somdej Phra Chao Boromawongse Ther Krom Phraya Jainad Narendhorn was the Thai Founder of the Public Health Ministry and Prince Regent.-Early life:...

, was appointed Prince Regent. Bhumibol then switched over his field of study to law and political science
Political science
Political Science is a social science discipline concerned with the study of the state, government and politics. Aristotle defined it as the study of the state. It deals extensively with the theory and practice of politics, and the analysis of political systems and political behavior...

.

While finishing his degree in Switzerland, Bhumibol visited Paris frequently. It was in Paris that he first met Mom Rajawongse Sirikit
Sirikit
Somdet Phra Nang Chao Sirikit Phra Borommarachininat , is the queen consort of Bhumibol Adulyadej, King of Thailand. She is the second Queen Regent of Thailand...

 Kitiyakara, daughter of the Thai ambassador to France.

On 4 October 1948, while Bhumibol was driving a Fiat Topolino
Fiat Topolino
The Fiat 500, commonly known as Topolino , is an Italian automobile model manufactured by Fiat from 1936 to 1955.-History:...

 on the Geneva
Geneva
Geneva In the national languages of Switzerland the city is known as Genf , Ginevra and Genevra is the second-most-populous city in Switzerland and is the most populous city of Romandie, the French-speaking part of Switzerland...

-Lausanne
Lausanne
Lausanne is a city in Romandy, the French-speaking part of Switzerland, and is the capital of the canton of Vaud. The seat of the district of Lausanne, the city is situated on the shores of Lake Geneva . It faces the French town of Évian-les-Bains, with the Jura mountains to its north-west...

 road, he collided with the rear
Rear-end collision
A rear-end collision is a traffic accident wherein a vehicle crashes into the vehicle in front of it, usually caused by tailgating or panic stops...

 of a braking truck 10 km outside of Lausanne. He hurt his back and incurred cuts on his face that cost him the sight of his right eye. While he was hospitalised in Lausanne, Sirikit visited him frequently. She met his mother, who asked her to continue her studies nearby so that Bhumibol could get to know her better. Bhumibol selected for her a boarding school in Lausanne, Riante Rive. A quiet engagement in Lausanne followed on 19 July 1949, and the couple were married on 28 April 1950, just a week before his coronation.

Bhumibol and his wife Queen Sirikit have four children:
  • (Formerly HRH) Princess Ubol Ratana
    Ubol Ratana
    Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Barnavadi , or Ubolratana in brief , is a princess of Thailand and the eldest child of King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Regent Sirikit...

    , born 5 April 1951 in Lausanne, Switzerland;
  • HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn
    Maha Vajiralongkorn
    Somdet Phra Boromma-orasathirat Chao Fa Maha Vajiralongkorn Sayammakutratchakuman is the only son of Bhumibol Adulyadej, the King of Thailand, and Queen Sirikit...

    , born 28 July 1952;
  • HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn
    Maha Chakri Sirindhorn
    Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn is the second daughter of King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Thais commonly refer to her as Phra Thep, meaning "princess angel." Because her title in Thai is the female equivalent of the title held by her brother, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, she is informally referred...

    , born 2 April 1955;
  • HRH Princess Chulabhorn Walailak
    Chulabhorn Walailak
    Princess Chulabhorn of Thailand or Chulabhorn Walailak , born 4 July 1957 in Bangkok, is a Princess of Thailand, the youngest daughter of HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej and HM Queen Sirikit of Thailand...

    , born 4 July 1957.


One of Bhumibol's autistic grandchildren, Bhumi Jensen
Bhumi Jensen
Bhumi Jensen , was a grandson of King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand, after whom he was named. He was the son of the king's eldest daughter, Princess Ubol Ratana Rajakanya, and her American husband Peter Ladd Jensen. Bhumi Jensen, who was commonly known as Khun Poom, had autism...

, was killed in the tsunami
Tsunami
A tsunami is a series of water waves caused by the displacement of a large volume of a body of water, typically an ocean or a large lake...

 caused by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake
2004 Indian Ocean earthquake
The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake was an undersea megathrust earthquake that occurred at 00:58:53 UTC on Sunday, December 26, 2004, with an epicentre off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. The quake itself is known by the scientific community as the Sumatra-Andaman earthquake...

. He was the son of Princess Ubol Ratana.

Coronation and titles


Bhumibol was crowned King of Thailand on 5 May 1950 at the Royal Palace in Bangkok where he pledged that he would "reign with righteousness for the benefit and happiness of the Siamese people" ("เราจะครองแผ่นดินโดยธรรม เพื่อประโยชน์สุขแห่งมหาชนชาวสยาม"). Notable elements associated with the coronation included the Bahadrabith Throne beneath the Great White Umbrella of State; and he was presented with the royal regalia and utensils.

In 1950 on Coronation Day, Bhumibol's consort was made Queen (Somdej Phra Boromarajini). The date of his coronation is celebrated each 5 May in Thailand as Coronation Day
Coronation Day
Coronation Day is the anniversary of the coronation of a monarch, the day a king or queen is formally crowned and invested with the regalia.-Coronation Day of Commonwealth realms monarchs:* Elizabeth II - 2 June 1953* George VI - 12 May 1937...

, a public holiday. On 9 June 2006, Bhumibol celebrated his 60th anniversary as the King of Thailand, becoming the longest reigning monarch in Thai history.

Following the death of his grandmother Queen Savang Vadhana
Savang Vadhana
Queen Savang Vadhana of Siam was a consort of King Chulalongkorn or Rama V. Her full name and title was Queen Sri Savarindira - thus she was not the Rajini , but just was a highest consort...

, Bhumibol entered a 15-day monkhood
Bhikkhu
A Bhikkhu or Bhikṣu is an ordained male Buddhist monastic. A female monastic is called a Bhikkhuni Nepali: ). The life of Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis is governed by a set of rules called the patimokkha within the vinaya's framework of monastic discipline...

 (22 October 1956 5 November 1956) at Wat Bowonniwet
Wat Bowonniwet
Wat Bowonniwet Vihara Rajavaravihara is a major Buddhist temple in Phra Nakhon district, Bangkok, Thailand. The temple is a center of the Thammayut Nikaya school of Thai Theravada Buddhism and has been a major temple of patronage for the Chakri dynasty. It is the shrine-hall of Phra...

, as is customary for Buddhist males on the death of elder relatives. During this time, Sirikit was appointed his regent. She was later appointed Queen Regent (Somdej Phra Boromarajininat) in recognition of this.

Although Bhumibol is sometimes referred to as King Rama IX in English, Thais refer to him as Nai Luang or Phra Chao Yu Hua (ในหลวง or พระเจ้าอยู่หัว: both mean "the King" or "Lord Upon our Heads"). He is also called Chao Chiwit ("Lord of Life").
Formally, he would be referred to as Phrabat Somdej Phra Chao Yu Hua (พระบาทสมเด็จพระเจ้าอยู่หัว) or, in legal documents, Phrabat Somdej Phra Paraminthara Maha Bhumibol Adulyadej (พระบาทสมเด็จพระปรมินทรมหาภูมิพลอดุลยเดช), and in English as His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej. He signs his name as ภูมิพลอดุลยเดช ป.ร. (Bhumibol Adulyadej Por Ror; this is the Thai equivalent of Bhumibol Adulyadej R[ex]).

Plaek Pibulsonggram era



In the early years of his reign, during the government of military dictator Plaek Pibulsonggram
Plaek Pibulsonggram
Field Marshal Plaek Pibunsongkhram , often known as Phibun Songkhram or simply Phibun in English, was Prime Minister and virtual military dictator of Thailand from 1938 to 1944 and 1948 to 1957.- Early years :...

, Bhumibol had no real power and was little more than a ceremonial figure under the military-dominated government. In August 1957, 6 months after parliamentary elections, General Sarit Dhanarajata
Sarit Dhanarajata
Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat , was a Thai career soldier who staged a coup in 1957, thereafter serving as Thailand's Prime Minister until his death in 1963. He was born in Bangkok, but grew up in his mother's home town in Lao-speaking northeastern Thailand and considered himself a northeasterner...

 accused the government of Field Marshal Pibulsonggram
Plaek Pibulsonggram
Field Marshal Plaek Pibunsongkhram , often known as Phibun Songkhram or simply Phibun in English, was Prime Minister and virtual military dictator of Thailand from 1938 to 1944 and 1948 to 1957.- Early years :...

 of lèse majesté
Lèse majesté
Lese-majesty is the crime of violating majesty, an offence against the dignity of a reigning sovereign or against a state.This behavior was first classified as a criminal offence against the dignity of the Roman republic in Ancient Rome...

 due to its conduct of the 2,500th anniversary celebration of Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

. On 16 September 1957, Pibulsonggram went to Bhumibol to seek support for his government. Bhumibol told the Field Marshal to resign to avoid a coup; Pibulsonggram refused. That evening, Sarit Dhanarajata seized power, and two hours later Bhumibol imposed martial law throughout the Kingdom. Bhumibol issued a Proclamation appointing Sarit as "Military Defender of the Capital" without anyone countersigning this Proclamation. It included the following statements:

Sarit Dhanarajata era


During Sarit's dictatorship, the monarchy was revitalised. Bhumibol attended public ceremonies, toured the provinces and patronised development projects. Under Sarit, the practice of crawling in front of royalty during audiences, banned by King Chulalongkorn
Chulalongkorn
Phra Bat Somdet Phra Poramintharamaha Chulalongkorn Phra Chunla Chom Klao Chao Yu Hua , or Rama V was the fifth monarch of Siam under the House of Chakri. He was known to the Siamese of his time as Phra Phuttha Chao Luang . He is considered one of the greatest kings of Siam...

, was revived in certain situations and the royal-sponsored Thammayut Nikaya order was revitalised. For the first time since the absolute monarchy was overthrown, a king was conveyed up the Chao Phraya River
Chao Phraya River
The Chao Phraya is a major river in Thailand, with its low alluvial plain forming the centre of the country. It runs through Bangkok, the capital city, and then empties into the Gulf of Thailand.-Etymology:...

 in a Royal Barge Procession
Thailand's Royal Barge Procession
Thailand's Royal Barge Procession is a ceremony of both religious and royal significance which has been taking place for nearly 700 years. The exquisitely crafted Royal Barges are a blend of craftsmanship and traditional Thai art. The Royal Barge Procession takes place rarely, typically...

 to offer robes at temples.

Other disused ceremonies from the classical period of the Chakri dynasty, such as the royally-patronised ploughing ceremony (Thai: พิธีพืชมงคล), were also revived. Bhumibol's birthday (5 December) was declared the national day
National Day
The National Day is a designated date on which celebrations mark the nationhood of a nation or non-sovereign country. This nationhood can be symbolized by the date of independence, of becoming republic or a significant date for a patron saint or a ruler . Often the day is not called "National Day"...

, replacing the previous national day, the anniversary of the Siamese Revolution of 1932
Siamese Revolution of 1932
The Siamese Revolution of 1932 or the Siamese Coup d'état of 1932 was a crucial turning point in Thai history in the 20th century...

 (24 June). Upon Sarit's death in 8 December 1963, an unprecedented 21 days of mourning were declared in the palace. A royal five-tier umbrella shaded his body while it lay in state. Long-time royal adviser Phraya Srivisarn Vacha later noted that no Prime Minister ever had such an intimate relationship with Bhumibol as Sarit.

Contemporary thinkers differ in their views about the relationship between Bhumibol and Sarit. Paul Handley, writer of The King Never Smiles
The King Never Smiles
The King Never Smiles is an unauthorized biography of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej by Paul M. Handley, a freelance journalist who lived and worked as a foreign correspondent in Thailand. It is published by Yale University Press and was released in 2006...

views Sarit as Bhumibol's tool, whereas political scientist Thak Chaloemtiarana asserts that Sarit used Bhumibol in order to build his own credibility.

Thanom Kittikachorn era


Field Marshal Thanom Kittikachorn
Thanom Kittikachorn
Field Marshal Thanom Kittikachorn was a military dictator of Thailand. A staunch anti-Communist, Thanom oversaw a decade of military rule in Thailand from 1963 to 1973, until public protests which exploded into violence forced him to step down...

 was appointed premier a day after Sarit's death in 1963. He continued most of Sarit's policies for a decade. During the 1970s, Bhumibol was a key figure in the Village Scouts and Red Gaur paramilitary organisations. In October 1973 after massive protests and the deaths of a large number of pro-democracy demonstrators, Bhumibol opened the gates of the Chitralada Palace
Chitralada Palace
Chitralada Palace is the Bangkok residence of King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit. King Bhumibol was the first king in the Chakri dynasty to live in the Chitralda Palace. He moved there after the death of his older brother, King Rama VIII in the Grand Palace...

 to fleeing protesters, and held an audience with student leaders. Bhumibol subsequently appointed the Thammasat University
Thammasat University
Thammasat University , or in brief TU , is Thailand's second oldest university. Officially established on 27 June 1934, the university was originally named by founder Pridi Banomyong, University of Moral Science and Politics , reflecting the political fervor of the time...

 Rector Sanya Dharmasakti
Sanya Dharmasakti
Sanya Dharmasakti was the 12th Prime Minister of Thailand.Professor Sanya Dharmasakti was one of the most influential political figures in Thailand...

 as the new Prime Minister, replacing Thanom. Thanom subsequently moved to the United States and Singapore
Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

. A succession of civilian governments followed, but the return of Field Marshal Thanom and his ordination as a novice monk at Wat Bowonniwet
Wat Bowonniwet
Wat Bowonniwet Vihara Rajavaravihara is a major Buddhist temple in Phra Nakhon district, Bangkok, Thailand. The temple is a center of the Thammayut Nikaya school of Thai Theravada Buddhism and has been a major temple of patronage for the Chakri dynasty. It is the shrine-hall of Phra...

 in 1976 led to renewed conflict, culminating in the 6 October 1976 Massacre
6 October 1976 Massacre
The Thammasat University Massacre, or Massacre of 6 October 1976 , was an attack on students and protesters that occurred on the campus of Thammasat University and at Sanam Luang in Bangkok. Students from various universities were demonstrating against the return to Thailand of Field Marshal...

 at Thammasat University by royalist paramilitary
Paramilitary
A paramilitary is a force whose function and organization are similar to those of a professional military, but which is not considered part of a state's formal armed forces....

 forces.

Prem Tinsulanond era


The ensuing chaos was used as a pretext for a military coup. The junta submitted three names to the king to choose from to become the next Premier: Deputy President of the king's Privy Council
Privy council
A privy council is a body that advises the head of state of a nation, typically, but not always, in the context of a monarchic government. The word "privy" means "private" or "secret"; thus, a privy council was originally a committee of the monarch's closest advisors to give confidential advice on...

 Prakob Hutasingh, right-wing Bangkok Governor Thamnoon Thien-ngern, and conservative Supreme Court judge Thanin Kraivixien. Bhumibol chose Thanin as the most suitable. However, Thanin proved to be very right-wing himself, causing student protesters to flee to join the communists in the jungle. Thanin was himself overthrown in a military coup in October 1977 led by General Kriangsak Chomanan
Kriangsak Chomanan
General Kriangsak Chomanan served as prime minister of Thailand from 1977 to 1980.A professional soldier, General Kriangsak fought against the communists in both the Korean War and the Vietnam War...

. Kriangsak was succeeded in 1980 by the popular Army Commander-in-Chief, General Prem Tinsulanond, later the Privy Council
Privy Council (Thailand)
The Privy Council of Thailand is a body of appointed advisors to the Monarch of Thailand: King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand. The Council, as the Constitution of Thailand stipulates, must be composed of no more than eighteen members...

 President.

Bhumibol's refusal to endorse military coups in 1981 (the April Fool's Day coup) and 1985 (the Share Rebellion) ultimately led to the victory of forces loyal to the government, despite some violence - including in 1981, the seizure of Bangkok by rebel forces. The coups led many to believe that Bhumibol had misjudged Thai society and that his credibility as an impartial mediator between various political and military factions had been compromised.

Crisis of 1992


In 1992, Bhumibol played a key role in Thailand's transition to a democratic system. A coup on 23 February 1991 returned Thailand back under military dictatorship. After a general election in 1992, the majority parties invited General Suchinda Kraprayoon
Suchinda Kraprayoon
Suchinda Kraprayoon was Prime Minister of Thailand from 7 April 1992 until 24 May 1992.Suchinda, son of Juang and Sompong Kraprayoon, was born 6 August 1933 in the province of Nakhon Pathom, Thailand, and is of Chinese and Mon descent...

, a leader of the coup group, to be the Prime Minister. This caused much dissent, which escalated into demonstrations that led to a large number of deaths when the military was brought in to control the protesters. The situation became increasingly critical as police and military forces clashed with the protesters. Violence and riot spread out in many areas of the capital with rumour on the rift among armed forces.

Amidst the fear of civil war, Bhumibol intervened. He summoned Suchinda and the leader of the pro-democracy movement, retired Major General Chamlong Srimuang
Chamlong Srimuang
Major General Chamlong Srimuang is a controversial Thai activist and former politician. A former general, he was a leader of the "Young Turks" military clique, founded and led the Phalang Dharma party, served for six years as governor of Bangkok, led the anti-military uprising of May 1992, and...

, to a televised audience, urged them to find a peaceful resolution. At the height of the crisis, the sight of both men appearing together on their knees (in accordance with royal protocol) made a strong impression on the nation, and led to Suchinda's resignation soon afterwards.

It was one of the few occasions in which Bhumibol directly and publicly intervened in a political conflict. A general election was held shortly afterward, leading to a civilian government.


2003 War on Drugs


In his 4 December 2002 speech on the eve of his birthday, King Bhumibol spoke about the rise in drug use, the high social costs and deaths caused by drugs, and called for a "War on Drugs." Privy Councillor General Phichit Kunlawanit called on the Thaksin Shinawatra government to use its majority in parliament to establish a special court to deal with drug dealers, stating that “if we execute 60,000 the land will rise and our descendants will escape bad karma”.

On 14 January 2003, Thaksin launched a campaign to rid "every square inch of the country" of drugs. His War on Drugs campaign consisted of setting provincial arrest and seizure targets including "blacklists", awarding government officials for achieving targets and threatening punishment for those who failed to make the quota, targeting dealers, and "ruthless" implementation. In the first three months, Human Rights Watch reported that 2,275 people were killed, almost double the number normally killed in drug-related violence. Human rights critics claimed a large number were extrajudicially executed. The War on Drugs was widely criticized by the international community.

According to the Narcotics Control Board, the campaign was effective in reducing drug consumption, especially in schools. The War on Drugs was one of the most popular policies of the Thaksin government. Bhumibol, in a 2003 birthday speech, praised Thaksin and criticized those who counted only dead drug dealers while ignoring deaths caused by drugs.
Bhumibol also asked the commander of the police to investigate the killings. Police Commander Sant Sarutanond reopened investigations into the deaths, and again claimed that few of the deaths were at the hands of the police.

After the 2006 coup, the military junta appointed a committee led by former Attorney General Kanit Na Nakorn to investigate deaths in the War on Drugs. The committee found no evidence linking Thaksin or members of his government to any extrajudicial killings. However, critics claimed that the true findings of the committee were suppressed.

While he was opposition leader, Abhisit Vejjajiva accused Thaksin of crimes against humanity for the War on Drugs. After he became Prime Minister, Abhisit opened an investigation led by former attorney-general Kampee Kaewcharoen, claiming that a successful probe could lead to prosecution by the International Criminal Court
International Criminal Court
The International Criminal Court is a permanent tribunal to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression .It came into being on 1 July 2002—the date its founding treaty, the Rome Statute of the...

. As of the August 2011 parliamentary elections, Abhisit's investigation failed to find or publicize any evidence linking Thaksin or members of his Government to any extrajudicial killings.

Crisis of 2005–2006 and the September 2006 coup



Background to the coup



Weeks before the April 2006 legislative election
Thailand legislative election, April 2006
-Opposition boycott:On 25 February the Post reported Democrat party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva as saying he was "ready to become a prime minister who adheres to the principles of good governance and ethics, not authoritarianism." The next day, however, it was announced that the Democratic Party,...

, the Democrat Party
Democrat Party (Thailand)
The Democrat Party is Thailand's oldest political party and was the main coalition government party of the 23rd House of Representatives of Thailand. The Democrat Party's current leader is Abhisit Vejjajiva, incumbent opposition leader and former Prime Minister. The party upholds a conservative...

-led opposition and the People's Alliance for Democracy
People's Alliance for Democracy
The People's Alliance for Democracy also called the National Liberation Alliance - กลุ่มพันธมิตรกู้ชาติ, Thai Patriots Network or the Yellow Shirts - เสื้อเหลือง - was originally a coalition of protesters against Thaksin Shinawatra, the former Prime Minister of Thailand. Its leaders include...

 petitioned Bhumibol to appoint a replacement prime minister and cabinet. Demands for royal intervention met with much criticism from the public. Bhumibol, in a speech on 26 April 2006, responded, "Asking for a Royally-appointed prime minister is undemocratic. It is, pardon me, a mess. It is irrational".

After publicly claiming victory in the boycotted April parliamentary elections
Thailand legislative election, April 2006
-Opposition boycott:On 25 February the Post reported Democrat party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva as saying he was "ready to become a prime minister who adheres to the principles of good governance and ethics, not authoritarianism." The next day, however, it was announced that the Democratic Party,...

, Thaksin Shinawatra
Thaksin Shinawatra
Thaksin Shinawatra is a Thai businessman and politician, who was Prime Minister of Thailand from 2001 to 2006, when he was overthrown in a military coup....

 had a private audience with the king. A few hours later, Thaksin appeared on national television to announce that he would be taking a break from politics.

In May 2006, the Sondhi Limthongkul
Sondhi Limthongkul
Sondhi Limthongkul is a Thai media mogul and leader of the right-wing People's Alliance for Democracy . He was elected for leader of the New Politics Party ....

-owned Manager Daily
Manager Daily
Manager Daily is a Thai-language daily newspaper published in Bangkok and distributed nationwide. The paper is a broadsheet, and emphasizes political and business news. Founded by media-mogul Sondhi Limthongkul, it was an outgrowth of Manager Monthly magazine and Manager Weekly newspaper...

 newspaper published a series of articles describing the "Finland Plot
Finland Plot
In Thailand politics, the Finland Plot, Finland Plan, Finland Strategy or Finland Declaration are names of a controversial theory espoused by Sondhi Limthongkul and supporters affiliated with the People's Alliance for Democracy in 2006 describing a plot allegedly developed by Thai Prime Minister...

", alleging that Thaksin and former members of the Communist Party of Thailand
Communist Party of Thailand
The Communist Party of Thailand - CPT was a Marxist-Leninist, Communist political party in Thailand, active from 1942 until the 1990s. Initially known as Communist Party of Siam the party was founded officially on the 1st of December 1942, although communist activism in the country began as early...

 planned to overthrow the king and seize control of the nation. No evidence was ever produced to verify the existence of such a plot, and Thaksin and his Thai Rak Thai
Thai Rak Thai
The Thai Rak Thai Party was a Thai political party that was officially banned on May 30, 2007, by the Constitutional Court of Thailand due to violations of electoral laws during the 2006 legislative elections. From 2001 to 2006, it was the ruling party under Prime Minister and its founder Thaksin...

 party vehemently denied the accusations and sued the accusers.

In a rare, televised speech to senior judges, Bhumibol requested the judiciary to take action to resolve the political crisis. On 8 May 2006, the Constitutional Court
Constitutional Court of Thailand
The Constitutional Court of Thailand is an independent Thai court originally established under the 1997 Constitution with jurisdiction over the constitutionality of parliamentary acts, royal decrees, draft legislation, as well as the appointment and removal of public officials and issues regarding...

 invalidated the results of the April elections and ordered new elections scheduled for 15 October 2006
Thailand legislative election, October 2006
After Thailand's April 2006 elections were declared invalid by the Constitutional Court, it was decided that new elections would be held on 15 October 2006...

. The Criminal Court later jailed the Election Commissioners.

On 14 July 2006, Privy Council
Privy Council (Thailand)
The Privy Council of Thailand is a body of appointed advisors to the Monarch of Thailand: King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand. The Council, as the Constitution of Thailand stipulates, must be composed of no more than eighteen members...

 President Prem Tinsulanonda
Prem Tinsulanonda
General Prem Tinsulanonda is a retired Thai military officer who served as Prime Minister of Thailand from March 3, 1980 to August 4, 1988. He now serves as the Head of the Privy Council of the King of Thailand, Bhumibol Adulyadej....

 addressed graduating cadets of the Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy
Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy
Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy or CRMA is the military academy of Royal Thai Army. Established in 1887 it has graduated the vast majority of Thailand's military leaders and many of them become Thai Prime Ministers.-History:...

, telling them that the Thai military must serve the King - not the Government.

On 20 July, Bhumibol signed a royal decree endorsing new House elections for 15 October 2006
Thailand legislative election, October 2006
After Thailand's April 2006 elections were declared invalid by the Constitutional Court, it was decided that new elections would be held on 15 October 2006...

. In an unprecedented act, the King wrote a note on the royal decree calling for a clean and fair election. That very day, Bhumibol underwent spinal surgery.

The coup




In the evening of 19 September, the Thai military overthrew the Thaksin government and seized control of Bangkok in a bloodless coup. The junta, led by the Sonthi Boonyaratglin
Sonthi Boonyaratglin
General Sonthi Boonyaratglin is former Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Army and former head of the Council for National Security, the military junta that ruled the kingdom. He is the first Muslim in charge of the mostly Buddhist army...

, Commander of the Army, called itself the Council for Democratic Reform under the Constitutional Monarchy, accused the deposed prime minister and his regime of many crimes, including lèse majesté, and pledged its loyalty to Bhumibol. Martial law was declared, the Constitution repealed and the October elections cancelled. Hundreds of Bangkokians came out to flock around the coup makers' stationed forces. Protests were banned and protesters were arrested. On 20 September, Bhumibol endorsed the coup, and ordered civil servants to take orders from Sonthi.

The King's role in the coup was the subject of much speculation among Thai analysts and the international media. The King had an audience with Privy Council
Privy Council (Thailand)
The Privy Council of Thailand is a body of appointed advisors to the Monarch of Thailand: King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand. The Council, as the Constitution of Thailand stipulates, must be composed of no more than eighteen members...

 President Prem Tinsulanonda
Prem Tinsulanonda
General Prem Tinsulanonda is a retired Thai military officer who served as Prime Minister of Thailand from March 3, 1980 to August 4, 1988. He now serves as the Head of the Privy Council of the King of Thailand, Bhumibol Adulyadej....

 at the same time as the First Special Forces were ordered mobilised. Anti-coup protesters claimed that Prem was a key mastermind of the coup, although the military claimed otherwise and banned any discussion of the topic. In a BBC interview, Thitinan Pongsudhirak
Thitinan Pongsudhirak
Thitinan Pongsudhirak is a Thai political scientist and a Professor at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. Thitinan completed his PhD from the London School of Economics. He completed an M.A. from the School of Advanced International Studies of the Johns Hopkins University and B.A...

 of Chulalongkorn University
Chulalongkorn University
Chulalongkorn University is the oldest university in Thailand and is the country's highest ranked university. It now has nineteen faculties and institutes. Regarded as the best and most selective university in Thailand, it consistently attracts top students from around the country...

 noted, "This coup was nothing short of Thaksin versus the King... He is widely seen as having implicitly endorsed the coup." In the same interview, social critic Sulak Sivaraksa
Sulak Sivaraksa
Sulak Sivaraksa [] is founder and director of the Thai NGO “Sathirakoses-Nagapradeepa Foundation”, named after two authorities on Thai culture, Sathirakoses and Nagapradeepa...

 claimed, "Without his involvement, the coup would have been impossible." Sulak added that the King is "very skillful. He never becomes obviously involved. If this coup goes wrong, Sonthi
Sonthi Boonyaratglin
General Sonthi Boonyaratglin is former Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Army and former head of the Council for National Security, the military junta that ruled the kingdom. He is the first Muslim in charge of the mostly Buddhist army...

 will get the blame, but whatever happens, the King will only get praise." On Saturday 23 September 2006, the junta warned they would "urgently retaliate against foreign reporters whose coverage has been deemed insulting to the monarchy." The President of Bhumibol's Privy Council, General Prem Tinsulanonda, supported the coup. The junta later appointed Privy Council member General Surayud Chulanont
Surayud Chulanont
General Surayud Chulanont is a Thai political figure. He was the Prime Minister of Thailand and head of Thailand's Interim Government between 2006 and 2008...

 as Prime Minister.

On 20 April 2009, Thaksin claimed in an interview with the Financial Times
Financial Times
The Financial Times is an international business newspaper. It is a morning daily newspaper published in London and printed in 24 cities around the world. Its primary rival is the Wall Street Journal, published in New York City....

 that Bhumibol had been briefed by Privy Councillors Prem Tinsulanonda and Surayud Chulanont about their plans to stage the 2006 coup. He claimed that General Panlop Pinmanee, a leader of the People's Alliance for Democracy, had told him of the briefing. The Thai embassy in London denied Thaksin's claims.

After the coup


The junta appointed a Constitutional Tribunal
Constitutional Court of Thailand
The Constitutional Court of Thailand is an independent Thai court originally established under the 1997 Constitution with jurisdiction over the constitutionality of parliamentary acts, royal decrees, draft legislation, as well as the appointment and removal of public officials and issues regarding...

 to rule on the alleged poll fraud cases concerning the Thai Rak Thai
Thai Rak Thai
The Thai Rak Thai Party was a Thai political party that was officially banned on May 30, 2007, by the Constitutional Court of Thailand due to violations of electoral laws during the 2006 legislative elections. From 2001 to 2006, it was the ruling party under Prime Minister and its founder Thaksin...

 and Democrat
Democrat Party (Thailand)
The Democrat Party is Thailand's oldest political party and was the main coalition government party of the 23rd House of Representatives of Thailand. The Democrat Party's current leader is Abhisit Vejjajiva, incumbent opposition leader and former Prime Minister. The party upholds a conservative...

 political parties. Guilty rulings would have dissolved both parties, Thailand's largest and oldest, respectively, and banned the parties' leadership from politics for five years. The weeks leading up to the verdicts saw rising political tensions. On 24 May 2007, about a week before the scheduled verdict, Bhumibol gave a rare speech to the Supreme Administrative Court (the President of which is also a member of the Constitutional Tribunal). "You have the responsibility to prevent the country from collapsing," he warned them in the speech, which was shown on all national television channels simultaneously during the evening. “The nation needs political parties.” The actual meaning of Bhumibol's advice was not clear, and interpretations varied. Some observers saw it as suggesting the judges should not make a compromise ruling. Others saw it as a warning against dissolving the two major parties. Bhumibol, who spoke standing but in a weak, rasping voice, was careful not to say where he stood on the merits of the case. "In my mind, I have a judgment but I cannot say," he said. "Either way the ruling goes, it will be bad for the country, there will be mistakes." The Tribunal later acquitted the Democrat Party but dissolved the Thai Rak Thai party and banned 111 of its executives from politics for five years.

The junta-appointed Constitution Drafting Assembly later tried to use the King in a propaganda
Propaganda
Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position so as to benefit oneself or one's group....

 campaign to increase public support for its widely criticised draft constitution
2007 Constitution of Thailand
A Permanent Constitution for the Kingdom of Thailand was drafted by a committee established by the military junta that abrogated the previous 1997 Constitution. On August 19, 2007, a referendum was held in which 59.3% of the voters voted in favor of the constitution...

. The CDA placed billboards saying, "Love the King. Care about the King. Vote in the referendum. throughout the Northeast of Thailand, where opposition to the junta was greatest.

2008 crisis



The military's constitution passed the referendum, and general election
Thai general election, 2007
The 2007 Thai general elections were held on 23 December. This was the first legislative election after the Council for National Security, a military junta, had overthrown Thailand's elected government and abrogated the constitution on September 19, 2006. The junta had canceled general elections...

 was held in December 2007. The People's Power Party
People's Power Party (Thailand)
The People's Power Party was a Thai political party founded on November 9, 1998 by Police Lieutenant Colonel Garn Tienkaew. The party leader was Somchai Wongsawat, the Party Secretary General was Surapong Suebwonglee, and the Party Spokesperson was Kuthep Saikrajarng...

, consisting of many former Thai Rak Thai Party MP
House of Representatives of Thailand
The House of Representatives of the Kingdom of Thailand is the lower house of the National Assembly of Thailand, the legislative branch of the Thai Government. The system of government of Thailand is that of a Constitutional Monarchy and a Parliamentary Democracy. The system of the Thai...

s and supporters, won the majority and formed a government.

In April 2008, Bhumibol appointed alleged coup plotter General
General
A general officer is an officer of high military rank, usually in the army, and in some nations, the air force. The term is widely used by many nations of the world, and when a country uses a different term, there is an equivalent title given....

 Surayud Chulanont
Surayud Chulanont
General Surayud Chulanont is a Thai political figure. He was the Prime Minister of Thailand and head of Thailand's Interim Government between 2006 and 2008...

 to Privy Council
Privy council
A privy council is a body that advises the head of state of a nation, typically, but not always, in the context of a monarchic government. The word "privy" means "private" or "secret"; thus, a privy council was originally a committee of the monarch's closest advisors to give confidential advice on...

 of Thailand. The People's Alliance for Democracy
People's Alliance for Democracy
The People's Alliance for Democracy also called the National Liberation Alliance - กลุ่มพันธมิตรกู้ชาติ, Thai Patriots Network or the Yellow Shirts - เสื้อเหลือง - was originally a coalition of protesters against Thaksin Shinawatra, the former Prime Minister of Thailand. Its leaders include...

 (PAD) reformed and started protests, eventually laying siege to Government House
Government House of Thailand
The Government House in Bangkok houses the offices of the Prime Minister of Thailand and his cabinet ministers. It also contains conference rooms and is used for state functions and receptions of foreign guests. It consists of several palace-like structures extending over...

, Don Muang Airport, and Suvarnabhumi Airport
Suvarnabhumi Airport
Suvarnabhumi Airport , also known as Bangkok International Airport, is an international airport serving Bangkok, Thailand. It was officially opened for limited domestic flight service on 15 September 2006, and opened for most domestic and all international commercial flights on 28 September...

. Although the PAD claimed they were defending the monarchy, Bhumibol remained silent. However, after a PAD supporter died in a clash with police, Queen Sirikit presided over her cremation. Princess Sirindhorn, when asked at a US press conference whether the PAD was acting on behalf of the monarchy, replied, "I don't think so. They do things for themselves." Questioning and criticism over Bhumibol's role in the crisis increased, particularly from the international press. “It is more and more difficult for them to hold the illusion that the monarchy is universally adored,” says a Thai academic.

In the weeks leading up to 2011 general election, Bhumibol appointed Air Chief Marshal
Air Chief Marshal
Air chief marshal is a senior 4-star air-officer rank which originated in and continues to be used by the Royal Air Force...

 Chalit Pukbhasuk, a leader of the 2006 military coup, to his Privy Council.

Constitutional powers

For a historical perspective on how Bhumibol's constitutional powers have changed over time, see the Constitutions of Thailand article

Bhumibol retains enormous powers, partly because of his immense popularity and partly because his powers - although clearly defined in the Thai constitution - are often subject to conflicting interpretations. This was highlighted by the controversy surrounding the appointment of Jaruvan Maintaka
Jaruvan Maintaka
Khun Ying Jaruvan Maintaka is the current Auditor-General of the Kingdom of Thailand. She refused to resign her position after the Constitutional Court of Thailand ruled that her nomination was illegal. She is well known for her public criticism of deposed Premier Thaksin Shinawatra...

 as Auditor-General. Jaruvavn had been appointed by The State Audit Commission. However, the Constitutional Court ruled in July 2004 that her appointment was unconstitutional. Jaruvan refused to vacate her office without an explicit order from Bhumibol, on the grounds that she had previously been royally approved. When the Senate elected a replacement for Jaruvan, Bhumibol refused to approve him. The Senate declined to vote to override Bhumibol's veto. Finally in February 2006 the Audit Commission reinstated Jaruvan when it became clear from a memo from the Office of the King's Principal Private Secretary that King Bhumibol supported her appointment.

Bhumibol has vetoed legislation very rarely. In 1976, when the Parliament voted 149-19 to extend democratic elections down to district levels, Bhumibol refused to sign the law. The Parliament refused to vote to overturn the King's veto. In 1954, Bhumibol vetoed parliamentary-approved land reform legislation twice before consenting to sign it. The law limited the maximum land an individual could hold to 50 rai
Rai (area)
A rai is a unit of area, equal to 1,600 square metres , used for measuring land area. Its current size is precisely derived from the metre, but is neither part of nor recognized by the modern metric system, the International System ....

 (80000 square metres (861,112.8 sq ft)), at a time when the Crown Property Bureau was the Kingdom's largest land-owner. The law was not enforced as General Sarit soon overthrew the elected government in a coup and repealed the law.

Bhumibol has the constitutional prerogative to pardon criminals, although there are several criteria for receiving a pardon, including age and remaining sentence. The 2006 pardoning of several convicted paedophiles, including an Australian rapist and child pornographer
Child pornography
Child pornography refers to images or films and, in some cases, writings depicting sexually explicit activities involving a child...

, caused controversy.

Network monarchy and extraconstitutional powers



Several academics outside of Thailand, including Duncan McCargo
Duncan McCargo
Duncan McCargo is a professor of Southeast Asian politics at the University of Leeds specializing in Thailand and Asia-related topics. He holds three degrees from the University of London: a First in English ; then an MA in Area Studies , and a PhD in Politics...

 and Federico Ferrara have noted the active political involvement of Bhumibol through a "network monarchy," whose most significant proxy is Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanond. McCargo claimed that Bhumibol's deeply conservative network worked behind the scenes to establish political influence in the 1990s, but was deeply threatened by the landslide election victories of Thaksin Shinawatra in 2001 and 2005. Ferrara claimed, shortly before the Thai Supreme Court delivered its verdict to seize Thaksin Shinawatra's assets, that the judiciary was a well-established part of Bhumibol's network and represented his main avenue to exercise extra-constitutional prerogatives despite having the appearance of being constitutional. He also noted how, in comparison to the Constitutional Court's 2001 acquittal of Thaksin, the judiciary was a much more important part of the "network" than it was in the past.

The network's ability to exercise power is based partly on Bhumibol's popularity and strict control of Bhumibol's popular image. Bhumibol's popularity was demonstrated following the 2003 Phnom Penh riots
2003 Phnom Penh riots
In January 2003, a Cambodian newspaper article falsely alleged that a Thai actress claimed that Angkor Wat belonged to Thailand. Other Cambodian print and radio media picked up the report and furthered the nationalistic sentiment which resulted in riots in Phnom Penh on January 29 where the Thai...

 in Cambodia, when hundreds of Thai protesters, enraged by rumors that Cambodian rioters had stomped on photographs of Bhumibol, gathered outside the Cambodian embassy in Bangkok. Photographs of the stomping were not published in Thailand, but were available on the internet. The situation was resolved peacefully only when Police General Sant Sarutanonda told the crowd that he had received a call from royal secretary Arsa Sarasin conveying Bhumibol's request for calm. The crowd dispersed.

History




Bhumibol has been involved in many social and economic development projects. The nature of his involvement has varied by political regime.

The government of Plaek Pibulsonggram
Plaek Pibulsonggram
Field Marshal Plaek Pibunsongkhram , often known as Phibun Songkhram or simply Phibun in English, was Prime Minister and virtual military dictator of Thailand from 1938 to 1944 and 1948 to 1957.- Early years :...

 (1951–1957) limited Bhumibol to a ceremonial role. During that period Bhumibol produced some films and operated a radio station from Chitlada Palace using his own personal funds.

In the military governments of Sarit Dhanarajata
Sarit Dhanarajata
Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat , was a Thai career soldier who staged a coup in 1957, thereafter serving as Thailand's Prime Minister until his death in 1963. He was born in Bangkok, but grew up in his mother's home town in Lao-speaking northeastern Thailand and considered himself a northeasterner...

 and his successors (1958–1980), Bhumibol was reportrayed as the "Development King" and the inspiration of the economic and political goals of the regime. Royally-ordered projects were implemented under the financial and political support of the government, including projects in rural areas and communities under the influence of the Communist Party of Thailand
Communist Party of Thailand
The Communist Party of Thailand - CPT was a Marxist-Leninist, Communist political party in Thailand, active from 1942 until the 1990s. Initially known as Communist Party of Siam the party was founded officially on the 1st of December 1942, although communist activism in the country began as early...

. Bhumibol's visits to these projects were heavily promoted by the Sarit government and broadcast on the state-controlled media.

During the governments of General Prem Tinsulanond (1981–1987), the relationship between the Thai state and the monarch was at its closest. Prem, later to become President of Bhumibol's Privy Council
Privy Council (Thailand)
The Privy Council of Thailand is a body of appointed advisors to the Monarch of Thailand: King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand. The Council, as the Constitution of Thailand stipulates, must be composed of no more than eighteen members...

, officially allocated government budgets and manpower to support royal projects. Most activities in this period involved the development of large scale irrigation projects in rural areas.

During the modern period (post-1988), the structured development of the Royal Projects reached its apex. Bhumibol's Chaipattana Foundation was established, promoting his "sufficiency economy"
Localism in Thailand
The chief proponent of localism in Thailand or moso is King Bhumibol Adulyadej's "the philosophy of Sufficiency Economy". The foundations of King Bhumibol's theory included sustainability, moderation and broad-based development...

 theory, an alternative to the export-oriented policies adopted by the period's elected governments. Following the 2006 coup, establishment of a "sufficiency economy" was enshrined in the constitution as being a primary goal of the government, and government financial support for royal projects boomed.

Example projects

  • Rama VIII Bridge
    Rama VIII Bridge
    The Rama VIII Bridge in Bangkok, Thailand, officially opened on September 20, 2002. The cable-stayed bridge consists of a single pylon located approximately one-third of the distance from the northwest end of the bridge. Golden suspension cables extend from this pylon to the road surface. The...

    . Suggested by Bhumibol, funded by the government
  • Huai Ongkod land reform project, Kanchanaburi
    Kanchanaburi
    Kanchanaburi ) is a town in the west of Thailand and the capital of Kanchanaburi province. In 2006 it had a population of 31,327...

     province. Suggested by Bhumibol, using government-owned land.
  • Royal Medical Team. Bhumibol's private physicians accompanying him on village tours were encouraged to provide medical care for local residents. In addition, the Royal Household sends letters of support to physicians who volunteer to serve in hospitals in provinces where royal palaces are situated.

Awards


Bhumibol has received numerous royal and state orders as befitting of his stature. In addition, the king was awarded the William J. Donovan Medal, Award of Friendship OSS, New York, U.S.A.presented by the Office of Strategic Services (CIA) on 29 October 1987.

Bhumibol, who serves as head of The National Scout Organization of Thailand
The National Scout Organization of Thailand
The National Scout Organization of Thailand is the national Scouting organization of Thailand. Scouting was founded in Thailand in 1911 and was among the charter members of the World Organization of the Scout Movement in 1922...

, was presented the Bronze Wolf
Bronze Wolf
The Bronze Wolf Award is bestowed by the World Scout Committee to acknowledge "outstanding service by an individual to the World Scout Movement"...

 award on 20 June 2006, the highest award of the World Organization of the Scout Movement
World Organization of the Scout Movement
The World Organization of the Scout Movement is the Non-governmental international organization which governs most national Scout Organizations, with 31 million members. WOSM was established in 1920, and has its headquarters at Geneva, Switzerland...

, for his support and development of Scouting
Scouting
Scouting, also known as the Scout Movement, is a worldwide youth movement with the stated aim of supporting young people in their physical, mental and spiritual development, that they may play constructive roles in society....

 in Thailand by Carl XVI Gustaf
Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden
Carl XVI Gustaf is the reigning King of Sweden since 15 September 1973, succeeding his grandfather King Gustaf VI Adolf because his father had predeceased him...

, King of Sweden and Honorary President of the World Scout Foundation. The presentation took place at Chitralada Palace
Chitralada Palace
Chitralada Palace is the Bangkok residence of King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit. King Bhumibol was the first king in the Chakri dynasty to live in the Chitralda Palace. He moved there after the death of his older brother, King Rama VIII in the Grand Palace...

 in Thailand and was witnessed by Chairman of the World Scout Committee Herman Hui
Herman Hui
Hui Chung-shing , BBS, MH, JP , anglicized as Herman Hui, is a former chairman of the World Scout Committee, the executive board for the World Organization of the Scout Movement from 2005 to 2008....

.

In May 2006, UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan
Kofi Annan
Kofi Atta Annan is a Ghanaian diplomat who served as the seventh Secretary-General of the UN from 1 January 1997 to 31 December 2006...

, presented the United Nations' first and only Human Development Lifetime Achievement Award to Bhumibol.

Bhumibol set a world record for receiving the greatest number of honorary university degrees (136) in 1997. Most of his degrees came from Thai universities: for instance, Kasetsart University
Kasetsart University
Kasetsart University is a public university in Thailand and a top-ranked Public University in Thailand. It is ranked No.401-500 in the world by QS. It was also the first agricultural university and the third oldest university in Thailand...

 awarded him ten honorary doctoral degrees at once.

60th Anniversary celebrations



Also called the Diamond Jubilee, the 60th Anniversary Celebrations of His Majesty the King's Accession to the Throne were a series of events marking Bhumibol's reign. Events included the royal barge procession
Thailand's Royal Barge Procession
Thailand's Royal Barge Procession is a ceremony of both religious and royal significance which has been taking place for nearly 700 years. The exquisitely crafted Royal Barges are a blend of craftsmanship and traditional Thai art. The Royal Barge Procession takes place rarely, typically...

 on the Chao Phraya River, fireworks displays, art exhibitions, pardoning 25,000 prisoners, concerts and dance performances.

Tied in with the anniversary, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan presented Bhumibol with the United Nations Development Programme
United Nations Development Programme
The United Nations Development Programme is the United Nations' global development network. It advocates for change and connects countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life. UNDP operates in 177 countries, working with nations on their own solutions to...

's first Human Development Lifetime Achievement Award on 26 May 2006. National holidays were on 9 June and 12–13 June 2006. On 9 June, the King and Queen appeared on the balcony of Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall before hundreds of thousands of people. The official royal barge procession on 12 June was attended by the King and Queen and royal visitors from 26 other countries. On 13 June, a state banquet for the royal visitors was held in the newly constructed Rama IX Throne Hall at the Grand Palace, the first official function for the hall. The Chiang Mai Royal Flora Expo was also held to honour the anniversary.

On 16 January 2007, the CDRM officially declared the end of the 60th anniversary celebrations and commenced year-long celebrations of Bhumibol's 80th birthday.

Private life



Bhumibol is a painter, musician, photographer, author and translator. His book Phra Mahachanok is based on a traditional Jataka
Jataka
The Jātakas refer to a voluminous body of literature native to India concerning the previous births of the Buddha....

story of Buddhist
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 scripture. The Story of Thong Daeng is the story of his dog Thong Daeng
Thong Daeng
Thong Daeng, a female copper-colored dog, is one of the pets owned by King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand. Bhumibol adopted Thong Daeng in 1998 from the litter of a stray dog that had been taken in by a medical center he had recently dedicated...

.

In his youth, Bhumibol was greatly interested in firearms. He kept a carbine, a Sten gun, and two automatic pistols in his bedroom, and he and his elder brother, King Ananda Mahidol
Ananda Mahidol
Ananda Mahidol was the eighth monarch of Thailand under the House of Chakri. At the time he was recognized as king by the National Assembly, in March 1935, he was a nine-year-old boy living in Switzerland. He returned to Thailand in December 1945. Six months later, in June 1946, he was found shot...

, often used the gardens of the palace for target practice.

There are two English language books that provide extensive detail - albeit not always verifiable - about Bhumibol's life, especially his early years and then throughout his entire reign. One is The Revolutionary King by William Stevenson, ISBN 978-1-84119-451-6; the other is The King Never Smiles by Paul M. Handley. A third and earlier work, The Devil's Discus, is also available in Thai and English. All three books are banned in Thailand.

Bhumibol's creativity in, among other things, music, art, and invention, was the focus of a 2 minute long documentary created by the government of Abhibisit Vejjajiva that was screened at all branches of the Major Cineplex Group and SF Cinema City, the two largest cinema chains in Thailand.

Health


Bhumibol suffers from lumbar spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the canal that contains the spinal cord and nerve roots, which results in back and leg pain and numbness in the legs. He received a microsurgical decompression in July 2006.

Bhumibol was taken to Bangkok's Siriraj Hospital on 13 October 2007, complaining he felt weak down his right side; doctors later found out through scans that he had a blood shortage to his brain. He was discharged on 7 November 2007.

On 19 September 2009, he was once again admitted to Siriraj Hospital, apparently with the flu and pneumonia. US diplomatic cables from 2009, published by Wikileaks
Wikileaks
WikiLeaks is an international self-described not-for-profit organisation that publishes submissions of private, secret, and classified media from anonymous news sources, news leaks, and whistleblowers. Its website, launched in 2006 under The Sunshine Press organisation, claimed a database of more...

 in 2011, reported that the king is suffering from Parkinson's disease
Parkinson's disease
Parkinson's disease is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system...

 and depression
Depression (mood)
Depression is a state of low mood and aversion to activity that can affect a person's thoughts, behaviour, feelings and physical well-being. Depressed people may feel sad, anxious, empty, hopeless, helpless, worthless, guilty, irritable, or restless...

. His youngest daughter HRH Princess Chulabhorn Walailak
Chulabhorn Walailak
Princess Chulabhorn of Thailand or Chulabhorn Walailak , born 4 July 1957 in Bangkok, is a Princess of Thailand, the youngest daughter of HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej and HM Queen Sirikit of Thailand...

 confirmed in an April 2011 television interview that the king remains in the hospital.

On 17 November 2011, Bhumibol was diagnosed with diverticulitis
Diverticulitis
Diverticulitis is a common digestive disease particularly found in the large intestine. Diverticulitis develops from diverticulosis, which involves the formation of pouches on the outside of the colon...

 while being confined in Siriraj Hospital. He is also forced to remain in fast
FAST
-Primary meanings:Fast may refer to:* Fast as in high speed or velocity, may be used with anything that has a speed.* Fasting, abstaining from foodSlang:* Fast, a slang term for someone who is sexually promiscuous-Sports:...

 until the disease is cured, the Bureau of the Royal Household announced.

Music


Bhumibol is an accomplished jazz musician and composer, particularly for his works on the alto saxophone. He was the first Asian composer awarded honorary membership of the Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts in Vienna at the age of 32. He used to play jazz music on air on the Or Sor radio station. In his travels, he has played with such jazz legends as Benny Goodman
Benny Goodman
Benjamin David “Benny” Goodman was an American jazz and swing musician, clarinetist and bandleader; widely known as the "King of Swing".In the mid-1930s, Benny Goodman led one of the most popular musical groups in America...

, Jack Teagarden
Jack Teagarden
Weldon Leo "Jack" Teagarden , known as "Big T" and "The Swingin' Gate", was an influential jazz trombonist, bandleader, composer, and vocalist, regarded as the "Father of Jazz Trombone".-Early life:...

, Lionel Hampton
Lionel Hampton
Lionel Leo Hampton was an American jazz vibraphonist, pianist, percussionist, bandleader and actor. Like Red Norvo, he was one of the first jazz vibraphone players. Hampton ranks among the great names in jazz history, having worked with a who's who of jazz musicians, from Benny Goodman and Buddy...

, Maynard Ferguson
Maynard Ferguson
Maynard Ferguson was a Canadian jazz musician and bandleader. He came to prominence playing in Stan Kenton's orchestra, before forming his own band in 1957...

, and Preservation Hall Jazz Band
Preservation Hall Jazz Band
Preservation Hall Jazz Band is the name for numerous groups of Dixieland Jazz and traditional jazz bands at Preservation Hall in New Orleans, Louisiana, and on tours as organized by the Preservation Hall...

. His songs can often be heard at social gatherings and concerts. In 2003, the University of North Texas College of Music
University of North Texas College of Music
The University of North Texas College of Music, based in Denton, is a comprehensive music school with the largest enrollment of any music institution accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music, and the oldest in the world offering a degree in jazz studies...

 awarded him an Honorary Doctorate in Music.

Sailing


Bhumibol is an accomplished sailor and sailboat designer. He won a gold medal for sailing in the Fourth Southeast Asian Peninsular (SEAP) Games
1967 Southeast Asian Peninsular Games
The 4th Southeast Asian Peninsular Games were held in Bangkok, Thailand from 9 December - 16 December 1967. Cambodia once again declined to host this edition of the games, as it did in 1963.-Medal count:-References:...

 in 1967, together with HRH Princess Ubol Ratana
Ubol Ratana
Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Barnavadi , or Ubolratana in brief , is a princess of Thailand and the eldest child of King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Regent Sirikit...

 whom he tied for points. This accomplishment is all the more remarkable given Bhumibol's lack of binocular depth perception
Depth perception
Depth perception is the visual ability to perceive the world in three dimensions and the distance of an object. Depth sensation is the ability to move accurately, or to respond consistently, based on the distances of objects in an environment....

. Bhumibol has also sailed the Gulf of Thailand
Gulf of Thailand
The Gulf of Thailand , also known in to Malays as Teluk Siam literally meant Gulf of Siam, is a shallow arm of the South China Sea.-Geography:...

 from Hua Hin
Hua Hin
Hua Hin is a famous beach resort town in Thailand, in the northern part of the Malay Peninsula, some 200 km south of Bangkok. It has a population of 84,883 in an area of 911 km², and is one of eight districts of the Prachuap Khiri Khan province.Hua Hin is closely associated with the...

 to Toey Harbour in Sattahip, covering 60 nautical miles (111.1 km) in a 14-hour journey on the "Vega 1," an OK Class dinghy he built.

Like his father, a former military naval engineer, Bhumibol was an avid boat designer and builder. He produced several small sail-boat designs in the International Enterprise
Enterprise (dinghy)
The Enterprise is a two-man sloop-rigged hiking sailing dinghy with distinctive blue sails. Despite being one of the older classes of dinghies, it remains popular in the United Kingdom and about a dozen other countries, and is used for both cruising and racing. It has a combination of size, weight,...

, OK, and Moth
Moth (dinghy)
The Moth Class is the name for a small development class sailing dinghy. There are three "species" of moths currently in existence: the International Moth, a fast sailing hydrofoil dinghy with liberal restrictions; the Classic Moth, a traditional dinghy with tighter restrictions; and the British...

 Classes. His designs in the Moth class include the “Mod,” “Super Mod,” and “Micro Mod.”

Patents


Bhumibol is the only Thai monarch to hold a patent. He obtained one in 1993 for a waste water aerator named "Chai Pattana", and several patents on rainmaking since 1955: the "sandwich" rainmaking patent in 1999 and lately the "supersandwich" patent in 2003.

Wealth


Estimates of the post-devaluation (circa 1997–1998) wealth of the royal household range from 10 billion to 20 billion USD.
In August 2008, Forbes
Forbes
Forbes is an American publishing and media company. Its flagship publication, the Forbes magazine, is published biweekly. Its primary competitors in the national business magazine category are Fortune, which is also published biweekly, and Business Week...

 came out with its 2008 version of The World's Richest Royals. King Bhumibol took first place on the list with an estimated wealth of $35 billion. A few days later the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand issued a statement that the Forbes report erred in attributing wealth owned by the Crown Property Bureau (CPB) solely to Bhumibol. In the 2009 version of its list, Forbes acknowledged the government's objections, but justified the continued inclusion of the CPB's assets on the ground that Bhumibol was its trustee. The 2009 estimate was down to $30 billion due to declines in real estate and stocks.

The wealth and properties of Bhumibol and the royal family are managed by the Crown Property Bureau and the Privy Purse. The CPB was established by law but is managed independently of the Thai Government and reports only to Bhumibol.

Through the CPB, Bhumibol and the royal family own land and equity in many companies and massive amounts of land, including 3,493 acres in Bangkok. The CPB is the majority shareholder of Siam Cement
Siam Cement
The Siam Cement Public Company Limited or SCG is the largest cement company in Thailand. It is listed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand. In 2011, it was also ranked as the 2nd largest company in Thailand and the 620th largest company in the world by Forbes 2000.It was founded under the Royal...

 (the largest Thai industrial conglomerate), Christiani & Nielsen
Christiani & Nielsen
Christiani & Nielsen is a construction contractor with major operations in Thailand and Southeast Asia. Originally a Danish company, it is today a listed company majority owned by the Crown Property Bureau of King Bhumibol of Thailand....

 (one of the largest Thai construction firms), Deves Insurance
Deves Insurance
The Deves Insurance Public Company Limited is a Thai insurance company based in Bangkok at Ratchadamnoen Klang Road.The company is one of the leading insurance companies in the country. It received the royal warrant from the King of Thailand. The garuda statue at the top of headquarters symbolizes...

 (which holds a monopoly on government property insurance and contract insurance), Siam Commercial Bank
Siam Commercial Bank
Siam Commercial Bank is a bank from Thailand, based in Bangkok.- History :Established by Royal Charter in 1907, Siam Commercial Bank PCL was Thailand's first bank. At the time of its establishment, the only banks in the country were branch offices of foreign banks...

 (one of the largest Thai banks), and Shin Corporation
Shin Corporation
Shin Corporation is one of the largest conglomerates in Thailand.- History :It was founded in 1983 as Shinawatra Computer by Thaksin Shinawatra, former Prime Minister of Thailand, and took on its current name in 1999, by using the first four letters of his last name...

 (a major Thai telecommunications firm, through the CPB's holdings in Siam Commercial Bank). The CPB also rents or leases about 36,000 properties to third parties, including the sites of the Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok, the Suan Lum Night Bazaar
Suan Lum Night Bazaar
Suan Lum Night Bazaar was a market in Bangkok's Pathum Wan district, at the intersection of Rama IV and Wireless/Sathorn Roads, opposite Lumphini Park at the Bangkok Metro's Lumphini Station. Located on land owned by the Crown Property Bureau. It opened in 2001, and had closed by early 2011.The...

, Siam Paragon
Siam Paragon
Siam Paragon is a shopping mall in Bangkok, Thailand. It is one of the biggest shopping centers in Asia. Opened on December 9, 2005, it includes a wide range of specialty stores and restaurants as well as a multiplex movie theater and the Siam Ocean World...

 and the Central World Tower. The CPB spearheaded a plan to turn Bangkok’s historical Rajadamnoen Avenue into a shopping street known as the “Champs-Élysées
Champs-Élysées
The Avenue des Champs-Élysées is a prestigious avenue in Paris, France. With its cinemas, cafés, luxury specialty shops and clipped horse-chestnut trees, the Avenue des Champs-Élysées is one of the most famous streets and one of the most expensive strip of real estate in the world. The name is...

 of Asia” and in 2007, shocked longtime residents of traditional marketplace districts by serving them with eviction notices. Bhumibol's substantial income from the CPB, estimated to be at least five billion baht in 2004 alone, is exempt from taxes. The CPB receives many state privileges. Although the Ministry of Finance technically runs the CPB, decisions are made solely by Bhumibol. The CPB's annual report is for the eye of Bhumibol alone; the annual report is not released to the public.

In addition, Bhumibol has numerous personal investments independent of the CPB. He is personally the majority shareholder of the Thai Insurance Company and Sammakorn, as well as many other companies.

The CPB has a fleet of three aircraft for the use of the royal family, including a Boeing 737-800 and an Airbus A319. The newer Airbus had been purchased by the Thaksin Shinawatra government for government use, but after the 2006 coup, the junta offered it to the king. The other planes are used by members of the royal family.

Among other vehicles, Bhumibol owns two custom-built stretch limousines from LCW Automotive Corp. The Golden Jubilee Diamond, the largest faceted diamond in the world, was given to him by businessman Henry Ho.

Scope of the law


Although Bhumibol is held in great respect by many Thais, he is also protected by lèse majesté
Lèse majesté
Lese-majesty is the crime of violating majesty, an offence against the dignity of a reigning sovereign or against a state.This behavior was first classified as a criminal offence against the dignity of the Roman republic in Ancient Rome...

laws which allow critics to be jailed for three to fifteen years. The laws were toughened during the dictatorship of royalist Premier Tanin Kraivixien
Tanin Kraivixien
Tanin Kraivixien or Thanin Kraivixien was the prime minister of Thailand between 1976 and 1977. Tanin is a son of Hae and Pa-ob Kraivixien, and is of Chinese-Thai descent. Tanin studied law at Thammasat University, graduating in 1948. He then went to the London School of Economics to continue with...

, such that criticism of any member of the royal family, the royal development projects, the royal institution, the Chakri Dynasty, or any previous Thai King was also banned. Jail terms for Thai citizens committing lèse majesté are usually harsher than for foreigners.

Politician Veera Musikapong was jailed and banned from politics for lèse majesté, despite the palace's opinion that the remarks were harmless. Frenchman Lech Tomacz Kisielwicz refused to switch off a reading light on a Thai Airways
Thai Airways International
Thai Airways International Public Company Limited is the national flag carrier and largest airline of Thailand. Formed in 1988, the airline's headquarters are located in Chatuchak District, Bangkok, and operates out of Suvarnabhumi Airport. Thai is a founding member of the Star Alliance. Thai is a...

 flight he shared with two Thai princesses and was jailed under lèse majesté for two weeks after his flight landed in Bangkok. He was acquitted after apologizing to the King. Thossaporn Ruethaiprasertsung was arrested and charged with lèse majesté for making photocopies of leaflets with contents allegedly against the monarchy and the Privy Council.

In 2009, Daranee "Da Torpedo" Chanchoengsilpakul was sentenced to 18 years in prison without suspension for "intending to insult" Bhumibol and Sirikit at a political protest. She did not actually mention the monarchs in her speech (she criticized, among other things, the "ruling class"), however, the court ruled that the prosecution "brought evidence that makes it possible to interpret that the defendant meant the King and Queen Sirikit." Social critic Sulak Sivaraksa
Sulak Sivaraksa
Sulak Sivaraksa [] is founder and director of the Thai NGO “Sathirakoses-Nagapradeepa Foundation”, named after two authorities on Thai culture, Sathirakoses and Nagapradeepa...

 has been charged several times with lèse majesté, but has always been acquitted.

Arrests have also occurred for sending text messages (SMSs) criticizing Bhumibol - although Bhumibol was not the recipient of the messages.

During the government of Abhisit Vejjajiva, numerous people were charged with insulting Bhumibol using body language
Body language
Body language is a form of non-verbal communication, which consists of body posture, gestures, facial expressions, and eye movements. Humans send and interpret such signals almost entirely subconsciously....

.
There is controversy over whether criticism of members of Bhumibol's Privy Council also qualifies as criticism of Bhumibol. Police Special Branch Commander Lt-General Theeradech Rodpho-thong refused to file charges of lèse majesté against activists who launched a petition to oust Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda, claiming that the law only applied to members of the royal family. Two days later, he was demoted by Police Commander Seripisut Temivavej. During the Songkran 2009 unrest, Thaksin Shinawatra accused the Privy Council President of masterminding the 2006 military coup. Royalists interpreted this as an attack on Bhumibol.

The website of Same Sky Books, publishers of Fah Diao Kan magazine, was shut down by the military government after comments on its bulletin board questioned claims made by the Thai media that the entire country was in mourning over the death of Princess Galyani Vadhana
Galyani Vadhana
Her Royal Highness Princess Galyani Vadhana, the Princess of Naradhiwas , was a princess of Thailand and the elder sister of King Ananda Mahidol and King Bhumibol Adulyadej...

.

Bhumibol himself stated that he was not above criticism in his 2005 birthday speech. "Actually, I must also be criticised. I am not afraid if the criticism concerns what I do wrong, because then I know. Because if you say the king cannot be criticised, it means that the king is not human", he said. "If the king can do no wrong, it is akin to looking down upon him because the king is not being treated as a human being. But the king can do wrong." Despite this, few have dared to call for the repeal of the law. Any doing so have been accused of disloyalty and could also be charged with lèse majesté. Political scientist Giles Ungpakorn noted that "the lèse majesté laws are not really designed to protect the institution of the monarchy. In the past the laws have been used to protect governments, to protect military coups. This whole [royal] image is created to bolster a conservative elite well beyond the walls of the palace."

In 2011 an American citizen, Joe Gordon (Lerpong Wichaikhammat), was arrested on charges he insulted the country's monarchy, in part by posting a link on his blog to a banned book about the ailing king. He is also suspected of translating, from English into Thai, portions of The King Never Smiles – and posting them online along with articles he wrote that allegedly defame the royal family. "I want President Obama and Hillary Clinton to intervene on on my behalf," he is quoted as saying.

Political use of the lèse majesté law


Lèse majesté has often been used to silence discussion about Bhumibol's role in politics, particular after the 2006 coup. Dozens of radio stations have been shut down due to alleged insults. As of December 2010, nearly 60,000 websites have been banned for alleged insults against Bhumibol. Chiranuch Premchaiporn, webmaster of news website Prachatai
Prachatai
Prachatai is a non-profit online newspaper in Thailand. Focusing on news from and commentary on NGOs, social movements, and human rights issues, the website became an alternative source for social and political news. Its current editor-in-chief is Chuwat Rerksirisuk, with Chiranuch Premchaiporn...

, has been jailed without bail for nearly a year for not removing an allegedly insulting comment from an article fast enough. Although the comments did not directly mention Bhumibol or members of his family, the court found that Chiranuch displayed insulting intent. Arrested in September 2010, she could face up to 50 years imprisonment if found guilty.

Premier Thaksin Shinawatra
Thaksin Shinawatra
Thaksin Shinawatra is a Thai businessman and politician, who was Prime Minister of Thailand from 2001 to 2006, when he was overthrown in a military coup....

 and royalist activist Sondhi Limthongkul
Sondhi Limthongkul
Sondhi Limthongkul is a Thai media mogul and leader of the right-wing People's Alliance for Democracy . He was elected for leader of the New Politics Party ....

 both filed charges of lèse majesté against each other during the 2005–2006 political crisis
Thailand political crisis 2005-2006
In 2005 and 2006, a series of events occurred in Thailand as a result of an unrest with Thaksin Shinawatra that was supported by Sondhi Limthongkul and his coalitions...

. Thaksin's alleged lèse majesté was one of the stated reasons for the Thai military's 2006 coup.

In 2005, the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) issued arrest warrants for two Swedish citizens, Abdulrosa Jehngoh and Chipley Putra Jehngoh, claiming that their Manusaya.com website contained content insulting to Bhumibol.

After the 2006 coup, there were an increasing number of claims that Bhumibol or his advisers knew of the 2006 coup before it actually occurred. Such lines of thought was suppressed with the lese majeste law: the number of people jailed for this alleged "insult" skyrocketed to an unprecedented number.

In May 2008, Minister Jakrapob Penkair of the People's Power Party resigned due to a lese majeste charge against him for statements during the interview in Bangkok's Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand (FCCT) on 29 August 2007..

Academics have been investigated, imprisoned, and forced into exile for lèse majesté. In 2007, Assistant Professor Boonsong Chaisingkananon of Silpakorn University
Silpakorn University
Silpakorn University is a well-known public university in Thailand. The university was founded in Bangkok in 1943 by Italian-born art professor Corrado Feroci, who took the Thai name Silpa Bhirasri when he became a Thai citizen. It is the leading Thai university in the fine arts and archaeology,...

 was the subject of a police investigation for asking students in an exam if the institution of the monarchy was necessary for Thai society and if it could be reformed to be consistent with the democratic system. The university handed in students' answer sheets and the professor's marks. Prominent historian Somsak Jeamteerasakul was arrested for proposing an eight-point plan on the reform of the monarchy. Somsak claimed that he never proposed to overthrow the monarchy and never insulted Bhumibol personally. Associate Professor Giles Ji Ungpakorn went into exile after his book, A Coup for the Rich, questioned Bhumibol's role in the 2006 coup.

Australian Harry Nicolaides was arrested upon arriving in Thailand and sentenced for 3 years in jail for self-publishing the book Verisimilitude. The book, which sold a mere 7 copies, mentioned the "romantic entanglements and intrigues" of members of the royalty. Nicolaides was given a pardon after spending a month in jail and then deported.

Jonathan Head, the head of the Bangkok bureau of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) was accused of lese majeste on numerous occasions, and eventually fled to Turkey. Among his alleged insults was authoring an article where he investigated whether Bhumibol or his advisers provided backing to People's Alliance for Democracy and allowing a picture of a politician to be placed above a picture of King Bhumibol on a BBC Web site.

Australian foreign correspondent Eric Campbell
Eric Campbell (reporter)
Eric Campbell is a prominent Australian foreign correspondent. He works predominantly for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation , and was the station's Moscow correspondent from 1996 to 1999...

 and the entire Bangkok bureau of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Australian Broadcasting Corporation
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation, commonly referred to as "the ABC" , is Australia's national public broadcaster...

 were banned from entering Thailand after they aired an investigation of Bhumibol's role in the military's violent 2010 crackdown on protesters
2010 Thai political protests
A prolonged series of political protests occurred in Bangkok, Thailand in 2010 from March to May against the Democrat Party-led government. The protests were organized by the National United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship...

. The report was broadcast only in Australia on the Foreign Correspondent
Foreign Correspondent (TV series)
Foreign Correspondent is a weekly Australian documentary series and current affairs program screened on ABC1, Tuesday at . Premiering at on Saturday 14 March 1992, the aim is to give informed information about the happenings in other countries either on the light side of life or during crisis.-...

series.

Amnesty International
Amnesty International
Amnesty International is an international non-governmental organisation whose stated mission is "to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights, and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated."Following a publication of Peter Benenson's...

 considers anyone jailed for insulting Bhumibol to be a political prisoner
Political prisoner
According to the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, a political prisoner is ‘someone who is in prison because they have opposed or criticized the government of their own country’....

.

Insults to Bhumibol's image


Acts deemed insulting to Bhumibol's image are also criminal offences in Thailand. In 2007, Oliver Jufer, a Swiss man, was sentenced to 10 years in jail for daubing black paint on portraits of Bhumibol while drunk. The Thai press was requested not to publish any information about the case. "This is a delicate issue and we don't want the public to know much about it," noted chief prosecutor Manoon Moongpanchon. The man originally pleaded innocent, but eventually pleaded guilty to five acts of lèse majesté. Foreign reporters were barred from the hearing. Saprang Kalayanamitr
Saprang Kalayanamitr
General Saprang Kalayanamitr is a retired officer of the Royal Thai Army, Assistant Secretary-General of the Council for National Security, Commander of the junta's 14,000-man anti-protest force, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Airports of Thailand , and also Chairman of the Boards of TOT...

 publicly suspected that Jufer was hired to perform the vandalism and ordered a military investigation. Jufer was pardoned by the king less than a month after his conviction and deported.

Suwicha Thakor was arrested and sentenced to 20 years in prison, later commuted to 10, for posting a picture on an internet web board that was deemed insulting to Bhumibol, in violating Article 112 of the Criminal Code and violating the Computer Crime Act of 2007. The CCA was passed by the military junta that followed 2006 coup; Suwicha's conviction was the first time that it had been successfully used to prosecute lèse majesté.

Other insults to Bhumibol's image that have resulted in arrests for lèse majesté include placing photographs of anybody above photographs of the king on websites and not standing while the Royal Anthem is played at cinemas.

Internet blocking measures


The government through the Office of Prevention and Suppression of Information Technology Crimes maintains a "war room" where about a dozen computer specialists monitor the content of the internet for pages which disparage the monarchy or pose a threat to national security. A web crawler
Web crawler
A Web crawler is a computer program that browses the World Wide Web in a methodical, automated manner or in an orderly fashion. Other terms for Web crawlers are ants, automatic indexers, bots, Web spiders, Web robots, or—especially in the FOAF community—Web scutters.This process is called Web...

 is used to search widely. When an offending image or language is found the office obtains a court order blocking the site. As of 2011 70,000 pages had been blocked over a four-year period.
On 4 April 2007, the Thai government blocked Thai access to YouTube
YouTube
YouTube is a video-sharing website, created by three former PayPal employees in February 2005, on which users can upload, view and share videos....

 as a result of a video clip which it deemed insulting to the king. Various leaders of the military junta claimed that the clip was an attempt to undermine the monarchy, attack Thailand as a country, and threaten national security. On 28 October 2008, The Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) announced plans to spend about 100 million to 500 million baht to build a gateway to block websites with contents defaming the royal institution. "More than 4,800 webpages have been blocked since March last year, an ICT official told AFP
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse is a French news agency, the oldest one in the world, and one of the three largest with Associated Press and Reuters. It is also the largest French news agency. Currently, its CEO is Emmanuel Hoog and its news director Philippe Massonnet...

, notionally because they contain content deemed insulting to Thailand's deeply-revered royal family."

On 29 April 2010, Wipas Raksakulthai
Wipas Raksakulthai
Wipas Raksakulthai is a Thai businessman currently serving a sentence for lèse majesté following a Facebook post to his account perceived to criticize King Bhumibol...

 was arrested following a post to his Facebook
Facebook
Facebook is a social networking service and website launched in February 2004, operated and privately owned by Facebook, Inc. , Facebook has more than 800 million active users. Users must register before using the site, after which they may create a personal profile, add other users as...

 account allegedly insulting Bhumibol. The arrest was reportedly the first lèse majesté charge against a Thai Facebook user. In response, Amnesty International
Amnesty International
Amnesty International is an international non-governmental organisation whose stated mission is "to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights, and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated."Following a publication of Peter Benenson's...

 named Wipas Thailand's first prisoner of conscience
Prisoner of conscience
Prisoner of conscience is a term defined in Peter Benenson's 1961 article "The Forgotten Prisoners" often used by the human rights group Amnesty International. It can refer to anyone imprisoned because of their race, religion, or political views...

 in nearly three decades.

Biographies


American journalist Paul Handley, who spent thirteen years in Thailand, wrote the biography The King Never Smiles
The King Never Smiles
The King Never Smiles is an unauthorized biography of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej by Paul M. Handley, a freelance journalist who lived and worked as a foreign correspondent in Thailand. It is published by Yale University Press and was released in 2006...

. The Information and Communications Ministry
Thailand Ministry of Information and Communication Technology
The Ministry of Information and Communication Technology of Thailand , was established on the 3 October 2002. The Ministry is headed by a Minister of State, currently Anudith Nakornthap of the Pheu Thai Party.-Public Companies:* TOT Public Company Limited...

 banned the book and blocked the book's page on the Yale University Press website in January 2006. In a statement dated 19 January 2006, Thai National Police Chief General Kowit Wattana
Kowit Wattana
Kowit Wattana is a Thai Police General and politician. From 2004 to 2007 he was the Commissioner-General of the Royal Thai Police. In 2008, he was Minister of the Interior, and since 2011 he has been Deputy Prime Minister under Yingluck Shinawatra...

 said the book has "contents which could affect national security and the good morality of the people." The book provides a detailed discussion of Bhumibol's role in Thai political history and also analyzes the factors behind Bhumibol's popularity.

William Stevenson
William Stevenson (Canadian writer)
William Stevenson is a British-born Canadian author and journalist.His 1976 book A Man Called Intrepid was about William Stephenson and was a best-seller...

, who had access to the Royal Court and the Royal Family, wrote the biography The Revolutionary King in 2001. An article in Time says the idea for the book was suggested by Bhumibol. Critics noted that the book displays intimate knowledge about personal aspects of Bhumibol. However, the book has been unofficially banned in Thailand and the Bureau of the Royal Household warned the Thai media about even referring to it in print. An official ban was not possible as it was written with Bhumibol's blessing. The book has been criticised for factual inaccuracies, disrespecting Bhumibol (it refers to him by his personal nickname "Lek"), and proposing a controversial theory explaining the death of King Ananda. Stevenson said, "The king said from the beginning the book would be dangerous for him and for me."

Succession to the throne



Bhumibol's only son, Prince Vajiralongkorn, was given the title "Somdej Phra Boroma Orasadhiraj Chao Fah Maha Vajiralongkorn Sayam Makutrajakuman" (Crown Prince of Siam) on 28 December 1972 and made heir apparent (องค์รัชทายาท) to the throne in accordance with the Palace Law on Succession of 1924.

On 5 December 1977, Princess Sirindhorn was given the title, "Siam Boromrajakumari" (Princess Royal of Siam). Her title is often translated by the English-language press as "Crown Princess", although her official English-language title is simply "Princess".

Although the constitution
Constitution of Thailand
The Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand is the supreme law of Thailand. Since the change from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional democracy in 1932, Thailand has had 17 charters and constitutions, reflecting the high degree of political instability and frequency of military coups faced...

 was later amended to allow the Privy Council
Privy Council (Thailand)
The Privy Council of Thailand is a body of appointed advisors to the Monarch of Thailand: King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand. The Council, as the Constitution of Thailand stipulates, must be composed of no more than eighteen members...

 to appoint a princess as successor to the throne, this would only occur in the absence of an heir apparent. This amendment is retained in Section 23 of the 1997 "People's Constitution."
Constitution of Thailand
The Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand is the supreme law of Thailand. Since the change from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional democracy in 1932, Thailand has had 17 charters and constitutions, reflecting the high degree of political instability and frequency of military coups faced...

  This effectively allowed Princess Sirindhorn to potentially be second in line to the throne, but did not affect Prince Vajiralongkorn's status as heir apparent.

Recent constitutions of Thailand have made the amendment of the Palace Law of Succession
1924 Palace Law of Succession
The Palace Law on Succession, BE 2467 governs succession to the Throne of the Kingdom of Thailand, under the ruling House of Chakri. The law was established during the reign of King Vajiravudh to systematically resolve previous succession controversies...

 the sole prerogative of the reigning king. According to Gothom Arya, former election commissioner, this allows the reigning king, if he so chooses, to appoint his son or any of his daughters to the throne.

Titles and styles



King Bhumibol Adulyadej's Thai full title is "Phra Bat Somdet Phra Poramintharamaha Bhumibol Adulyadej Mahitalathibet Ramathibodi Chakkrinaruebodin Sayamminthrathirat Borommanatbophit" , which is referred to in the chief legal documents; and in general documents, the title is shorthened to "Phra Bat Somdet Phra Poramintharamaha Bhumibol Adulyadej Sayamminthrathirat Borommanatbophit" or just "Phra Bat Somdet Phra Poramintharamaha Bhumibol Adulyadej."

The literal translation of the title is as follows:
  • Phra—a third person pronoun
    Pronoun
    In linguistics and grammar, a pronoun is a pro-form that substitutes for a noun , such as, in English, the words it and he...

     referring to the person with much higher status than the speaker, meaning "excellent" in general. The word is from Sanskrit vara ("excellent").
  • Bat—"foot," from Sanskrit pāda.
  • Somdet—"lord," from Khmer
    Khmer language
    Khmer , or Cambodian, is the language of the Khmer people and the official language of Cambodia. It is the second most widely spoken Austroasiatic language , with speakers in the tens of millions. Khmer has been considerably influenced by Sanskrit and Pali, especially in the royal and religious...

     "samdech" ("excellency").
  • Poraminthara—"the great," from Sanskrit parama ("great") + indra
    Indra
    ' or is the King of the demi-gods or Devas and Lord of Heaven or Svargaloka in Hindu mythology. He is also the God of War, Storms, and Rainfall.Indra is one of the chief deities in the Rigveda...

    ("leader")
  • Maha—"great," from Sanskrit, "maha"
  • Bhumibol—"Strength of the Land," from Sanskrit bhumi ("land") +bala ("strength")
  • Adulyadej—"Incomparable power," from Sanskrit atulya ("incomparable") +teja ("power")
  • Mahitalathibet—"Son of Mahidol
    Mahidol Adulyadej
    Mahitaladhibes Adulyadejvikrom, the Prince Father , or officially styled Mahidol Adulyadej, Prince of Songkla was the father of King Ananda Mahidol and King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand. He was also regarded as the father of modern medicine and public health of Thailand...

    "
  • Ramathibodi—"Rama
    Rama
    Rama or full name Ramachandra is considered to be the seventh avatar of Vishnu in Hinduism, and a king of Ayodhya in ancient Indian...

    , the Avatar
    Avatar
    In Hinduism, an avatar is a deliberate descent of a deity to earth, or a descent of the Supreme Being and is mostly translated into English as "incarnation," but more accurately as "appearance" or "manifestation"....

     of God Vishnu
    Vishnu
    Vishnu is the Supreme god in the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism. Smarta followers of Adi Shankara, among others, venerate Vishnu as one of the five primary forms of God....

     to become the great ruler"; from Sanskrit rama + adhi ("great") + patī ("president")
  • Chakkrinaruebodin—"Leader of the People who is from the House of Chakri", from Sanskrit Cakrī + nari ("men") + patī ("president")
  • Sayamminthrathirat—"the Great King of Siam," from Sanskrit Siam (former name of Thailand) + indra + ati ("great") + rāja ("king)
  • Borommanatbophit— "the Royalty who is the Great Shelter", from Sanskrit parama ("great") + nādha ("the one who others can depend on" or "Power/Right") + "pavitra" ("royalty")

Ancestors





See also


  • Monarchy of Thailand
  • Golden Jubilee Diamond, the largest faceted diamond in the world, was presented to Bhumibol Adulyadej on the 50th anniversary of his coronation.
  • Constitutions of Thailand, describing the evolution of Bhumibol's constitutional rights and responsibilities.
  • History of Thailand (1932-1973)
    History of Thailand (1932-1973)
    The history of Thailand from 1932 to 1973 was dominated by military dictatorships which were in power for much of the period. The main personalities of the period were the dictator Luang Phibunsongkhram , who allied the country with Japan during the Second World War, and the civilian politician...

  • History of Thailand since 1973
    History of Thailand since 1973
    The history of Thailand since 1973 saw an unstable period of democracy, with military rule being reimposed after a bloody coup in 1976....

  • Public Holidays in Thailand
    Public holidays in Thailand
    Public holidays in Thailand are regulated by the government, and most are observed by both the public and private sectors. There are usually sixteen public holidays in a year, but more may be declared by the cabinet. Since 1996, if a holiday falls on a weekend, the following workday is observed as...

  • Thai royal and noble titles
    Thai royal and noble titles
    Thai royal and noble titles are the royal and noble styles signifying relationship to the King introduced by King Trailokanat, who reigned 1448 to 1488. The system is rooted in the Thai language equivalent of feudalism, .It is somewhat similar to that of peerage, but is complicated and usually not...

  • List of longest reigning monarchs of all time
  • Royal Flags of Thailand
    Royal Flags of Thailand
    The Royal Flags of Thailand are flags that are usually flown in Thailand along with the National flag to honor the King and Queen as well as the Royal Family of Thailand. Unlike the Royal Standards that are only displayed in special ceremonies and in particular locations, the royal flags are a...


Literature

  • HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand. The Story of Tongdaeng. Amarin Book, Bangkok. 2004. ISBN 9742729174
  • HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand. The Story of Mahajanaka. Amarin Book, Bangkok. 1997. ISBN 9748364712
  • HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand. The Story of Mahajanaka: Cartoon Edition. Amarin Book, Bangkok. 1999. ISBN 9742720746
  • HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand. His Majesty the King's Photographs in the Development of the Country. Photographic Society of Thailand & Thai E, Bangkok. 1992. ISBN 9748880508
  • HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand. Paintings by his Majesty the King: Special exhibition for the Rattanakosin Bicentennial Celebration at the National Gallery, Chao Fa Road, Bangkok, 1 April- 30 June 1982. National Gallery, Bangkok. 1982.
  • HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand, Chaturong Pramkaew (Ed.). My Country Thailand...land of Everlasting Smile. Amarin Book, Bangkok. 1995. ISBN 9748363538

External links