THAIS HON­OUR LATE KING

TWO YEARS AF­TER HIS PASS­ING, NA­TION OF­FERS MA­JES­TIC DIS­PLAY OF RE­SPECT

Bangkok Post - - FRONT PAGE - POST RE­PORTERS

From dawn to dusk, Sanam Luang — the coun­try’s cer­e­mo­nial ground in front of the Grand Palace — was filled with a sea of yel­low.

The colour came from shirts peo­ple wore to ex­press their love and re­spect for King Bhu­mi­bol Adulyadej.

They came to par­tic­i­pate in an all-day round of cer­e­mo­nial events to mark the se­cond year of King Bhu­mi­bol’s pass­ing. Since early dawn, they came to of­fer alms to monks.

A wreath-lay­ing cer­e­mony in hon­our of the late King Bhu­mi­bol was also held at Sanam Luang yes­ter­day morn­ing.

From af­ter­noon, a sea of peo­ple walked to Sanam Luang, wait­ing to par­tic­i­pate in can­dle vig­ils sched­uled for 6pm.

Heavy rain dur­ing the af­ter­noon did not de­ter them from show­ing their love for the late king. They wanted to make sure they could par­tic­i­pate.

Peo­ple in­ter­viewed by the Bangkok Post ad­mit­ted the ground has a spe­cial mean­ing in their hearts.

Last year, the royal cre­ma­tion took place at the Sanam Luang ground and peo­ple came to evoke their fond me­mories about King Bhu­mi­bol.

“Need­less to say, King Bhu­mi­bol has al­ways been in my heart. Yet I felt the need to come here in per­son to pay him re­spect ... to feel the vibe,” said Prakong Srisurat 57, an of­fice em­ployee from Prawet district, who came to Sanam Luang in the early af­ter­noon.

“It’s heart­warm­ing to see that even af­ter two years, a sea of peo­ple still gather here to hon­our him,” said 55-year-old tearyeyed Boonyanuch Boon­pok, a civil ser­vant from the Min­istry of In­dus­try, joined by her 27-year-old daugh­ter Chayanid.

She had trav­elled from Bang Sue district to pay her re­spects.

“I just had to come be­cause I want to be around other fel­low like-minded Thais, “Ms Chayanid said.

Stand­ing on Sanam Luang — right in front of the Grand Palace and, last year, where the Royal Cre­ma­tion took place — made her feel close to him again, said Ms Chayanid, who last year came to pay her re­spects at King Bhu­mi­bol’s funeral held at the Royal Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall.

Lalita Khothuwan, 27, a civil ser­vant from the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion, said she came with her col­leagues as a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of her min­istry.

“But even if my work didn’t man­date me to come, I would have come any­way. I just want to be a part of any event re­lated to him,” she said.

The event at Sanam Luang is one of nu­mer­ous events held across the coun­try and over­seas to hon­our the for­mer monarch.

In Bangkok, Prime Min­is­ter Prayut Chan-o-cha led cab­i­net min­is­ters, heads of gov­ern­ment of­fices and of­fi­cials to give alms to 890 Bud­dhist monks and novices at the Royal Plaza yes­ter­day.

At Siri­raj Hos­pi­tal where King Bhu­mi­bol stayed for med­i­cal treat­ment be­fore he passed away, peo­ple joined nurses, doc­tors and health per­son­nel to give alms to 89 Bud­dhist monks at the coun­try’s old­est hos­pi­tal in Bangkok and ob­served an 89-minute si­lence in front of the por­trait of the late King.

Eighty-nine has be­come the num­ber peo­ple adopt to hon­our the for­mer King, who passed away about seven weeks be­fore his 89th birth­day on Dec 5.

Var­i­ous state agen­cies na­tion­wide also held sim­i­lar merit-mak­ing events.

Across the coun­try, peo­ple rose early to go to tem­ples and pro­vin­cial halls to give alms to monks. Sev­eral shops of­fered free food for peo­ple to pay trib­ute to King Bhu­mi­bol.

Peo­ple also ex­pressed their love for the late King in so­cial net­work­ing sites. The phrases “For­ever in Our Hearts” and “Still on My Mind” — the names of songs com­posed by the late king — be­came pop­u­lar hash­tags across Face­book.

Many said King Bhu­mi­bol is still alive in their hearts while oth­ers re­gard him as a model for mak­ing con­tri­bu­tions to the coun­try.

One Face­book mem­ber, whose work in­volves pub­li­cis­ing the late King’s life, said he ad­mired the valu­able work he un­der­took.

“That idea to work for the coun­try is not mine. I just fol­low in the King’s foot­steps,” he wrote.

Twit­ter is an­other so­cial me­dia plat­form where Thais ex­pressed their love to­wards the late monarch.

“Two years ago this day, I felt di­rec­tion­less when King Rama IX passed away. It is like a house where our fa­ther died,” Judge Teemah, news an­chor Bluesky cable TV wrote on his Twit­ter site.

Cer­e­monies across the bor­der were also held to com­mem­o­rate King Rama IX.

Deputy Prime Min­is­ter and Jus­tice Min­is­ter Pra­jin Jun­tong led his en­tourage to pay re­spect to the late King in a merit-mak­ing cer­e­mony at Wat Sisaket, a tem­ple in the Lao cap­i­tal of Vi­en­tiane.

Mean­while, an opin­ion poll found more than 70% of Thais said they want to cre­ate a peace­ful so­ci­ety as part of ac­tiv­i­ties held in mem­ory of their beloved King Rama IX. The poll was based on re­spon­dents from 1,128 peo­ple na­tion­wide from Oct 5-12.

The poll was con­ducted by Re­search In­sti­tute for Com­mu­nity Hap­pi­ness and Lead­er­ship, a non-profit re­search foun­da­tion for so­cial de­vel­op­ment.

Re­spon­dents re­acted in the same way when they were asked what good deeds they want to do for their “fa­ther”, an­other word for the King, to mark his de­par­ture on Oct 13, 2016.

More than 73% said they will join hands to bring peace to so­ci­ety, which more than a decade ago was di­vided by se­vere po­lit­i­cal con­flicts.

Nearly 70% of re­spon­dents said they will fol­low the Suf­fi­ciency Econ­omy, the liv­ing and work­ing phi­los­o­phy in­tro­duced by King Rama IX.

Other re­spon­dents said they in­tend to pro­tect the monar­chy (68%), do vol­un­teer work (56%) and make a sac­ri­fice (52%).

FOND­NESS OF HEART: His Majesty the King per­forms a merit-mak­ing cer­e­mony to mark two years since King Bhu­mi­bol Adulyadej passed away on Oct 13, 2016 at the Amarin Winitchai Throne Hall in the Grand Palace. The cer­e­mony yes­ter­day was also at­tended by Her Royal High­ness Princess Maha Chakri Sirind­horn and other royal fam­ily mem­bers.

EVERLASTING LEGACY: Crowds of yel­low-clad peo­ple take part in a mass can­dle­light vigil be­fore a por­trait of King Bhu­mi­bol Adulyadej at Sanam Luang, with the Grand Palace in the back­ground, to mark two years since the late king passed away on Oct 13, 2016.

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