Thai stocks tumble on news of king’s health
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. –
King Bhumibol Adulyadej has not been seen in public for a year.