Thai king DIES

The Sun (Malaysia) - - FRONT PAGE -

BANGKOK: Thai­land’s King Bhu­mi­bol Adulyadej, the world’s long­est-reign­ing monarch, died in hospi­tal yes­ter­day, the palace said in an an­nounce­ment. He was 88.

King Bhu­mi­bol reigned for seven decades af­ter as­cend­ing the throne in 1946. His pass­ing will be deeply mourned in Thai­land, where he was re­garded as a pil­lar of sta­bil­ity dur­ing decades of po­lit­i­cal up­heaval and rapid devel­op­ment.

The palace did not give a rea­son for his death but he had been in hospi­tal with var­i­ous ail­ments for much of the past year.

“His Majesty has passed away at Siri­raj Hospi­tal peace­fully,” the palace said, adding he died at 3.52pm (4.52pm Malaysian time).

His son and heir ap­par­ent, the 63year- old Crown Prince Maha Va­ji­ra­longkorn, is set to be­come the new king. ( See Page 10)

Par­lia­ment was due to meet in a spe­cial ses­sion later af­ter a meet­ing of the Cabi­net, a leg­is­la­ture of­fi­cial said.

Anx­i­ety about the king’s health and the suc­ces­sion has formed the back­drop to over a decade of po­lit­i­cal up­heaval in Thai­land that has in­cluded two coups.

More than 1,000 peo­ple gath­ered at the hospi­tal where the king had been staying. Many of them started to cry as the news of his death broke, AFP re­ports.

“I feel so sad­dened by this news. He has given so many things to the coun­try,” said Apinut Ja­roon­pipatkul, a 25-year-old med­i­cal stu­dent.

King Bhu­mi­bol was seen as a force for unity, and there have long been con­cerns that with­out him the coun­try’s di­vi­sions could worsen.

Mean­while, Prime Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Na­jib Ab­dul Razak con­veyed con­do­lences to the Thai peo­ple.

He said on Face­book he wished to ex­press his heart­felt con­do­lences to the royal fam­ily, the Thai gov­ern­ment and the peo­ple of Thai­land.

“King Bhu­mi­bol was a tow­er­ing pres­ence whose con­tri­bu­tion to Thai­land, and the rest of the re­gion, is be­yond words. We join the Thai peo­ple in mourn­ing their loss.”

A woman wails at the Siri­raj Hospi­tal yes­ter­day af­ter the an­nounce­ment on the king’s death.

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