Thai king DIES
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.