Thai elite turn out for Leices­ter City owner’s funeral

The Myanmar Times - - Asean Focus -

AN elab­o­rate funeral be­gan Satur­day for Thai bil­lion­aire and Leices­ter City owner Vichai Sri­vad­dhanaprabha, who died last week when his he­li­copter crashed in a park­ing lot next to the English Pre­mier League club’s sta­dium.

The roy­ally spon­sored funeral was be­ing held at a Bangkok tem­ple and its guests in­cluded top gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials, busi­ness­men and other pub­lic fig­ures. The first cer­e­mony be­gan Satur­day, with other cer­e­monies sched­uled through Nov. 9.

“It’s a very dif­fi­cult time for his fam­ily and I’m here to show sup­port,” said Ki­at­ti­sak Se­na­muang, a for­mer Thai na­tional soc­cer team coach and player who noted that Vichai was al­ways sup­port­ive of soc­cer projects in Thai­land. “May Vichai rest in peace.”

The grounds of Wat Thep­sirin were guarded by scores of se­cu­rity of­fi­cers. White sheets were low­ered to block out­siders and me­dia from view­ing the pro­ceed­ings. How­ever, the chant­ing of monks, am­pli­fied by loud speak­ers, could be heard res­onat­ing around the tem­ple’s grounds.

Leices­ter City’s play­ers had planned to travel to Bangkok to at­tend Vichai’s funeral af­ter their match with Cardiff City on Satur­day.

Vichai was killed in the Oc­to­ber 27 crash, which oc­curred about an hour af­ter a Leices­ter City match.

The Thai bil­lion­aire over­saw one of the great­est un­der­dog suc­cesses in sports when his 5,000-1 out­siders won the English Pre­mier League ti­tle in 2016.

In an era of of­ten-ab­sen­tee for­eign own­ers in the Pre­mier League, Vichai also broke the mold by forg­ing close ties with sup­port­ers and the lo­cal com­mu­nity.

The busi­ness world re­mem­bers Vichai as the re­tail en­tre­pre­neur who grew Thai­land’s mas­sive King Power duty-free chain.

To­day the King Power empire is worth £3.8 bil­lion (US$4.88 bil­lion), ac­cord­ing to Forbes, with Vichai hav­ing been the fifth-rich­est per­son in Thai­land.

A de­vout Bud­dhist who had monks bless his team’s King Power Sta­dium reg­u­larly for good luck, Vichai and his wife, Ai­mon Sri­vad­dhanaprabha, had four chil­dren.

He was born Vichai Rak­sri­ak­sorn, but in 2012, the king of Thai­land recog­nised his achieve­ments by be­stow­ing on his fam­ily their new sur­name, which means “light of pro­gres­sive glory.” – AP

Photo: King Power via AP

Thai Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Gen­eral Prawit Wong­suwan (cen­tre) par­tic­i­pates in the Bud­dhist funeral rit­u­als of Vichai Sri­vad­dhanaprabha in Bangkok, Thai­land, Satur­day.

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