Late King mourned un­der solemn skies

9 min­utes of si­lence de­scend on hospi­tal where revered King Rama IX passed, write Pat­pon Sab­paitoon and Korn­chanok Rak­saseri


Thou­sands of Thais flocked to Siri­raj Hospi­tal yes­ter­day to mourn the late King Bhu­mi­bol Adulyadej who passed away there one year ago at the age of 89. They joined their com­pa­tri­ots na­tion­wide in com­mem­o­rat­ing the first an­niver­sary of his pass­ing. King Rama IX was pro­nounced dead at 3.52pm on Oct 13, 2016.

Many of those who spent the day at the hospi­tal were also there one year ear­lier, pray­ing for a mir­a­cle.

The prospect of heavy rain did not de­ter them yes­ter­day.

Both sides of the 100th Year Siri­raj Cen­ten­nial Hall were oc­cu­pied by a mul­ti­tude of solemn faces clad mostly in black.

“I had flash­backs to last year,” TV and ra­dio an­nouncer Apisak Chuachan said as he re­called the ex­tended mo­ment of si­lence mourn­ers ob­served yes­ter­day at 3.52pm.

“At first it was so crowded I couldn’t hear the speaker. But peo­ple grew silent at 3.51pm and stayed quiet un­til about 3.59pm,” he said.

“I was numb, I couldn’t cry. Only when I got in the shower did I cry, and then I couldn’t stop.”

Pra­nee Ab­dul­ra­man, a depart­ment store clerk from Pracha Uthit, said she wanted to ex­press her love for the late King be­cause she missed him so much.

“I chose to come here be­cause it’s where King Bhu­mi­bol drew his last breath,” she said.

For Nattha­porn Tan­ti­weer­a­wong, a doc­tor in Pathum Thani, the mem­o­ries of that heartrend­ing day re­main vivid and painful.

“I was driv­ing when I first heard the news,” Ms Nattha­porn said.

“When it hit me, I felt con­fused, adrift and heart­bro­ken,” she added, tears stream­ing from her eyes.

Thongkam Pomparkrong, a 63-year-old mer­chant from Kanchanaburi, strug­gled to hold back his tears as he re­called that tragic day.

“Not a day has passed that I don’t feel sad,” he said.

Due to the lim­ited space, only 600 to 700 peo­ple were al­lowed in­side the 100th Year Siri­raj Cen­ten­nial Hall and Prince Mahi­dol Court dur­ing yes­ter­day’s merit-mak­ing cer­e­mony or­gan­ised by Siri­raj Med­i­cal School.

Some at­tempted to sneak in, shuf­fling be­tween doors only to be turned away.

One el­derly lady, when de­nied ac­cess, pleaded to the se­cu­rity guard — “I just want a closer glimpse” — to no avail.

Many gath­ered on the lawn around a statue of Prince Mahi­dol hold­ing pic­tures of the late King in their hands.

Some brought marigold flow­ers and yel­low roses — the colour as­so­ci­ated in Thai­land with Mon­day, the day on which the late King was born.

Dur­ing the cer­e­mony, peo­ple were asked to close their eyes and rem­i­nisce about their beloved late King for 89 sec­onds as a trib­ute. The num­ber of sec­onds matches the age of the late King, who passed away in his 89th year. The mourn­ers at the hospi­tal stayed silent for nine min­utes.

The only sound dur­ing that time was the click­ing of cam­era shut­ters.

Some were over­whelmed. Many fought back tears. Others wept freely.

Af­ter the cer­e­mony the heav­ens opened on merit-mak­ers ex­it­ing the grounds, many with gar­lands in their hands.

Nunta Sangswang, a 71-year-old re­tired civil ser­vant, was leav­ing with her two grand­sons. She paused for a mo­ment to re­flect on the day.

“It made me feel good, in a way”, she said. “Yet I still feel heart­bro­ken.”

Sumet Tan­tive­jkul, sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the Chaipat­tana Foun­da­tion and a close aide to King Bhu­mi­bol, was also in at­ten­dance.

“The real trib­ute to the late King is in our ac­tions,” he said philo­soph­i­cally.


Not a day has passed that I don’t feel sad. THONGKAM POMPARKRONG A KANCHANABURI RES­I­DENT

Thais na­tion­wide yes­ter­day took part in merit-mak­ing cer­e­monies mark­ing one year since the pass­ing of the late King Bhu­mi­bol Adulyadej.

In Bangkok, Siri­raj Hospi­tal where the late King passed away, took cen­tre stage as thou­sands of peo­ple wear­ing black as­sem­bled at the hospi­tal from sun-up to give alms to monks.

Merit mak­ing has been held na­tion­wide to pay trib­ute to the late King, who passed away on Oct 13, 2016 af­ter 70 years on the throne.

At the nearby Royal Thai Navy Con­ven­tion Hall, a to­tal of 199 Bud­dhist monks be­gan col­lect­ing alms from 5.30am from peo­ple, who lined the en­tire route from the hall to Bovorn­sathanpimuk Road in front of the hospi­tal’s main build­ing. Some of the dried food given to the monks will be sent to the Bor­der Pa­trol Po­lice School, the navy said.

Prime Min­is­ter Prayut Chan-o-cha, min­is­ters and their spouses of­fered alms to the 89 monks at Gov­ern­ment House yes­ter­day morn­ing. The num­ber of the monks matches the age of the late King, who passed away in his 89th year.

At “Lan Khon Muang”, a civic space right in front of City Hall, Bangkok gov­er­nor Pol Gen Aswin Kwan­muang presided over a merit-mak­ing cer­e­mony for the late King at 7am, and lead­ing of­fi­cials to give alms to 89 monks.

Many peo­ple were seen ar­riv­ing at the Grand Palace early yes­ter­day to put fresh flow­ers around the wall of the palace and pray for the late monarch.

Among them was Yut­thana Kiew-on, the owner of a bad­minton club in the Ratchadaphisek Road area. He said he of­fered free use of his bad­minton courts yes­ter­day to com­mem­o­rate the first an­niver­sary of the late King’s pass­ing.

“It’s a way of re­mem­ber­ing what the King did for us, as far as my oc­cu­pa­tion al­lows me to do,” Mr Yut­thana said. “It is some­thing that puts smiles on the pub­lic’s faces, which is what His Majesty would have wanted.

“Af­ter find­ing about what we have done, they smiled and thanked us po­litely, so we feel good that we are able to give back to the pub­lic.”

Wong­pavakarn Pi­tak­boonkate, a con­trac­tor, said he wanted to be a model cit­i­zen by ob­serv­ing the five Bud­dhist moral pre­cepts daily.

“Do­nat­ing items on spe­cific days and vol­un­teer­ing at Sanam Luang are def­i­nitely re­spectable prac­tices, but it all starts with be­ing a good per­son,” Mr Wong­pavakarn said. “When you take a step back to look at the late King’s teach­ings, they fall in line with the five pre­cepts.”

The five pre­cepts are to ab­stain from harm­ing liv­ing things, steal­ing, sex­ual mis­con­duct, telling lies, and con­sum­ing in­tox­i­cat­ing sub­stances.

“So if we ob­serve these prac­tices each day in­stead of just one day, I am sure we would make him proud,” Mr Wong­pavakarn said.

Else­where in the provinces, mourn­ers wear­ing black also turned up to of­fer alms to monks as a trib­ute to the late King.

Pro­vin­cial gover­nors across the coun­try led lo­cal of­fi­cials to give alms to the monks, mostly num­bered at 89 to pay trib­ute.

Mem­bers of the pub­lic wear­ing black also ar­rived at dawn to give alms to the monks and make merit.

News­pa­pers with pic­tures of the late King were quickly snapped up shortly af­ter hit­ting news­stands.

Thais liv­ing abroad and many for­eign em­bassies in Bangkok also held events com­mem­o­rat­ing the late King.


Peo­ple mass at Siri­raj Hospi­tal and ob­serve an ex­tended pe­riod of si­lence at 3.52pm yes­ter­day to com­mem­o­rate the pass­ing away there one year ago of the late King Bhu­mi­bol Adulyadej.

His Majesty King Maha Va­ji­ra­longkorn Bodin­drade­bayavarangkun makes merit at the Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall in the Grand Palace, com­mem­o­rat­ing the first an­niver­sary of the late King Bhu­mi­bol Adulyadej’s pass­ing yes­ter­day.

Crowds of mourn­ers for the late King Bhu­mi­bol Adulyadej pack the road out­side the Grand Palace yes­ter­day as they pre­pare to lay flow­ers a year af­ter his pass­ing. Marigolds were a pop­u­lar choice as yel­low is as­so­ci­ated with Mon­day in Thai­land, the day...

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