Thai stocks tum­ble on news of king’s health

The Myanmar Times - - International Business -

THAI­LAND’S stock ex­change plunged yes­ter­day after the palace said hos­pi­tal-bound King Bhu­mi­bol Adulyadej’s health was “not sta­ble” in an up­date that has raised fears for the 88-year-old.

King Bhu­mi­bol is the world’s long­est-reign­ing monarch and beloved by many in Thai­land. But he has not been seen in pub­lic for nearly a year as he bat­tles a se­ries of ail­ments in a Bangkok hos­pi­tal.

His health is a taboo sub­ject with palace of­fi­cials main­tain­ing tight con­trol on news while a dra­co­nian lese ma­jeste law makes pub­lic dis­cus­sion of or plan­ning for his suc­ces­sion im­pos­si­ble.

Pri­vately many busi­ness lead­ers – both do­mes­tic and for­eign – fret that his demise could lead to eco­nomic in­sta­bil­ity, es­pe­cially as there is no of­fi­cial dis­cus­sion on how the coun­try will han­dle his pass­ing.

Stocks on Thai­land’s pri­mary bourse plunged 3 per­cent, the big­gest fall in nearly a month.

The baht also de­clined to a twom­onth low of 35.08 against the dol­lar, a sixth con­sec­u­tive day of losses, ac­cord­ing to Bloomberg data.

In re­cent months the palace has be­gun is­su­ing more reg­u­lar up­dates on the king’s hos­pi­tal treat­ment that point to a string of ma­jor health is­sues in­clud­ing re­nal fail­ure.

The stock mar­ket of­ten dips after such an­nounce­ments.

Over the last two years he has been treated for bac­te­rial in­fec­tions, breath­ing dif­fi­cul­ties, heart prob­lems and hy­dro­cephalus – a build-up of cere­brospinal fluid of­ten re­ferred to as “wa­ter on the brain”.

The lat­est state­ment is­sued by the Royal House­hold Bu­reau on Oc­to­ber 9 said a ven­ti­la­tor was de­ployed after the monarch’s blood pres­sure dipped fol­low­ing pro­ce­dures to pre­pare him for dial­y­sis and to change a tube that helps drain fluid from his spine.

“The med­i­cal team is watch­ing his symp­toms and giv­ing treat­ments care­fully be­cause the over­all symp­toms of his sick­ness are still not sta­ble,” the state­ment said.

Christo­pher Wong, a for­eignex­change strate­gist at Malayan Bank­ing Bhd in Sin­ga­pore told Bloomberg that the lat­est up­date “could weigh on in­vestor sen­ti­ment”.

King Bhu­mi­bol’s reign has spanned seven tu­mul­tuous decades and his frail health is a cause of great pub­lic con­cern for Thais, most of whom have never known life un­der an­other king.

An­a­lysts say anx­i­ety over the end of his reign has ag­gra­vated the past decade of con­flict in Thai­land, with elites jostling for in­flu­ence.

His named suc­ces­sor, 64-yearold Crown Prince Maha Va­ji­ra­longkorn, has yet to at­tain his fa­ther’s wide­spread pop­u­lar­ity. –

Photo: EPA

King Bhu­mi­bol Adulyadej has not been seen in pub­lic for a year.

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