Peter Cummins Pattaya Mail
Photos courtesy of the Bureau of the Royal Household
2006 is a year of many celebrations for the Thai people: the Diamond Jubilee
of His Majesty the King’s accession to the Thai Throne, on Coronation Day,
the fifth of May, 2006 and the 56th anniversary of the marriage of King
Bhumibol to Queen Sirikit, on 28 April, 2006.
The whole nation - in fact, much of the world - is focusing on the 60 years
of rule of the world’s longest-serving Monarch, His Majesty King Bhumibol
Adulyadej the Great, the Ninth King of the Chakri Dynasty.
Foreign monarchs and their representatives from 25 countries will join the
official celebrations on June 12 and 13 and HM the King himself will host a
dinner reception at the Chakri Throne Hall in the Grand Palace as the grand
finale of a historic and happy occasion. Hereunder is the listing of those
foreign dignitaries who will come to Thailand to honour our King.
In the plethora of awards, citations and accolades which have flowed in to
honour the King, on this auspicious occasion, one of the most recent – and
one which, to a certain extent, sums up His Majesty’s 60-year rule-has
been from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Kofi Annan, the United Nations Secretary-General, last week awarded His
Majesty the UNDP’s first-ever “Lifetime Achievement Award” in
recognition of His Majesty’s total dedication to improving the lives of
even the least of his subjects.
Called the “World’s Development King” by the Secretary-General, “The
King’s visionary thinking has gone beyond the borders of Thailand.” He
has supported environmental conservation, sustainable use of natural
resources and encourages the use of appropriate agricultural techniques.
“The King has advocated a sufficiency economy,” Kofi Annan continued,
“living strictly by his Oath of Office” pledged 60 years ago: “We will
reign with righteousness for the benefit and happiness of the Siamese
people” and, in all the years which have passed since that auspicious day,
the concept of “righteousness” has dominated his reign.
In fact, the King has constantly revered the age-old Buddhist concept of
‘Kingship’ as defined in the Sutta Pitaka of the Tripitaka in which a
King is defined as Mahasammata - a King of Righteousness.
List of Monarchs and their
representatives to join the celebrations for the 60th
Anniversary of His Majesty’s Accession
to the Throne
Foreign monarchs and their representatives from 25 countries around the
world will join the celebrations for the 60th anniversary of His Majesty’s
accession to the Throne on June 12 and 13, 2006. They are listed as follows:
12 Monarchs/Heads of State
* His Majesty Preach Bat Samdech Preah Baromneath Norodom Sihamoni of
* His Highness Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani of Qatar
* His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah of Kuwait
* His Majesty King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein of Jordan
* His Majesty Emperor Akihito of Japan
* His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Muizzaddin Waddaulah of Brunei
* His Majesty Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Ibni Al-Marhum Tuanku Syed Putra
Jamalullail, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong XII of Malaysia
* His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco
* His Royal Highness Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg
* His Majesty King Letsie III of Lesotho
* His Majesty King Mswati of Swaziland
* His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden
* His Royal Highness Prince Henrik, the Prince Consort of Denmark
* His Royal Highness Crown Prince Tupouto’a of Tonga
* His Royal Highness Crown Prince Haakon of Norway
* His Royal Highness Prince Willem-Alexander, the Prince of Orange of The
* His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman al Khalifa of Bahrain
* His Royal Highness Crown Prince Philippe of Belgium
* His Royal Highness Crown Prince Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck of Bhutan
* Her Royal Highness Princess Lalla Salma Bennani of Morocco
* Her Majesty Queen Sofia of Spain
* His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan of the United Arab
* His Royal Highness the Duke of York of the United Kingdom
* His Serene Highness Prince Hans Adam II of Liechtenstein
* His Highness Sayyid Shihab bin Tariq Taimour Al Said of Oman
Development for the people
The King was born on Monday, the fifth of December, 1927 at the Mount Auburn
Hospital, Cambridge, Massachusetts named, at that time, as “Baby
Songkhla” by the hospital staff, for there was not an official name for
the future King.
Over the five cycles of his reign, the King has steadfastly implemented the
principles of ‘righteous rule’, embodying good kingship in his own life
and example and often speaking out against the affliction of the evils so
clearly spelled out in the Buddhist philosophy - evils and afflictions which
seem to have become progressively worse in the past tumultuous years.
Several years ago, His Majesty went to the Hua Hin airfield in Prachuap
Khiri Khan Province to visit the Royal Rainmaking Research and Development
Institute. But he did not go alone; rather, he took a group of students with
him, to inspect the royally-initiated rainmaking project. The King patiently
explained the mechanisms and complexities of the system to the youngsters
from the Klai Kangwol School.
“Such a project as this helps alleviate drought and water shortages often
critical in such dry provinces as Prachuab Khiri Khan and many other rural
areas,” the King pointed out to the enthralled students.
His Majesty’s ‘outing’ with these schoolchildren again under-scored
his concern about the efficacy of his numerous development projects in
reaching out to even the least of his subjects. This occasion was a little
reminiscent of an event four years earlier. Then, the King was so intent
upon his dedication to the people through his “middle way” - the
Buddhist philosophy of balance, inter-relatedness and self-reliance - that
he escorted a group of journalists to visit the Huay Hong Krai Centre which
acts as a model for catchment area conservation for the north.
The fact that it was His Majesty’s only press trip for many years - and
has not been repeated since - indicated the importance that he attached, in
that case, to the sites where the farmers can observe the ongoing research,
and choose whatever is most suitable for their needs and localities.
According to the observations of one member of the media accompanying the
King at that time, “While international development literature devotes
much space to formulating projects aimed at ‘people participation’ and
beneficial end-results for the intended recipients, His Majesty had been
working according to these guidelines - before the development community
even thought of embracing them.”
The King established five other Royal Development Study Centres - or, as
they are better known - “Living Museums” - situated in the roughest
terrain in their respective regions. These centres are the locale for
experiments in reforestation, irrigation, land development and farm
technology which are conducted to find practical applications within the
constraints of local conditions, geography and topography. His Majesty’s
aim is to restore the natural balance, to enable people to become
The first centre organized was that of Khao Hin Son, in the rocky area of
Chachoengsao’s Phanom Sarakam District. Here, the centre studies how to
turn the barren soil, caused by deforestation, back into fertile land again.
Other centres are located at strategic places around the Kingdom.
The Pikul Thong Centre at Narathiwat studies the swampy, acidic land of the
southern-most region. The Phu Phan Centre in Sakhon Nakhon studies soil
salinity and irrigation in the country’s biggest region, the Northeast,
which suffers from endemic drought. The Krung Kraben Bay Centre in
Chantaburi examines the rehabilitation of mangrove forests and coastal areas
following massive destruction. The Huay Sai Centre in Petchaburi studies the
rehabilitation of degraded forests and shows villagers, in their turn, how
to protect the forests.
When he was in doubt, the King would fly over a particular area, armed with
aerial photographs and maps of the terrain, noting features as they passed
underneath. And, being a good photographer himself, he also took his own
pictures, later to juxtapose them on area charts, to obtain a complete and
detailed image of the specifics which helped his planning of various
His Majesty’s insightful approach to local prevailing conditions has
enabled him to improvise new theories for agricultural development, to
provide guidelines for educating farmers on self-sufficiency, and to solve
problems of goitre by feeding iodine into salt roads at strategic points.
In all these works, His Majesty has promoted a simple approach using
environmentally friendly techniques and utilizing moderate amounts of
locally available resources. For example, before environmentalism became a
major force in the development equation, His Majesty was using vetiver grass
to prevent erosion, controlling ground water level to reduce soil acidity,
and seeding clouds with simple materials such as dry ice, to produce rain.
A ‘Simple’ approach
The King’s philosophy to development problems has been to “keep it
simple” - relying on an intimate knowledge of Nature and her immutable
law, such as using fresh water to flush out polluted water or dilute it
through utilization of normal tidal fluctuations. The ubiquitous water
hyacinth too can be ‘harnessed’ to absorb pollutants.
The results of any development, the King asserts, must reach the people
directly as a means of overcoming immediate problems, translating into
“enough to live, enough to eat”, while looking at a longer-term result
of “living well and eating well.”
His Majesty compares this to using “adharma” (evil) to fight evil,
observing that both pollution and the water weed are a menace, but they can
be used to counteract each other, thus lessening the damage to the
The King himself practices this ‘simple approach’ and brings a
down-to-earth approach to which the people can readily relate. He studies
and deliberates exhaustively on the particular project and then reveals his
thinking in short, easy-to-grasp titles. The very simplicity belies the
profundity of the philosophy, for each title reflects a much deeper insight
into a given problem and often, at the same time, hints at the mode of
operation to be employed.
A major working principle has been a true knowledge of and reliance upon the
immutable laws of Nature in solving problems and resolving abnormal
conditions, such as using fresh water to flush out polluted water, as in his
analogy “good water chases bad” referring to the hyacinth/water
pollution problem in the Chao Phraya, for example.
The King undertook the establishment of the Royal Development Projects in
1969, primarily as a means of arresting the opium growing and deforestation
caused by the hill tribes’ slash and burn agriculture and to improve their
standard of living. The first was established at a Hmong village on Doi Pui
in Chiang Mai Province and now has spread to Chiang Rai, Lamphun and Mae
Hong Son. Over the years, the Projects have been instrumental in the
conversion of the poppy fields being turned into groves of temperate fruits
Under the dynamic direction of the King’s close colleague, Prince Bhisadej
Rajani, who is the Director of the Projects, operating from his base at the
Chiang Mai University, there are currently four research stations, 35 Royal
Project Development Centres which incorporate some 300 villages, comprising
14,000 households and approximately 90,000 farmers.
The Royal Development Projects Board, under the Office of the Prime
Minister, also serves as the secretariat for the Chai Pattana Foundation
which is directly responsible for the work related to the royal development
projects. Now, more than three decades later, the results can be seen in the
new life which has come to many of the mountain villages. Greenery has
returned to once-denuded forest areas and barren hills and the opium
cultivation, a cause of extreme national concern, is virtually a past era.
“The key to the success of the Project lies in His Majesty’s
guidelines,” explains Prince Bhisadej. “They focus on obtaining
knowledge, through research, avoiding bureaucratic entanglements and swift
action to respond to the villagers’ needs, while promoting
self-reliance,” he adds. “The effectiveness of this approach has been
applauded internationally.” For example, in 1998 the Royal Project won
both the “Magsaysay Award for International Understanding” and the Thai
Expo Award for attaining the quality standard of Thai Goods for Export.
The King’s own views are that development must respect different regions,
geography and peoples’ way of life. “We cannot impose our ideas on the
people - only suggest. We must meet them, ascertain their needs and then
propose what can be done to meet their expectations,” the King pointed out
The King’s ideas are in direct contrast to the bureaucracy’s wish to
impose standards from the top down, with the inflexibility inherent therein.
“Don’t be glued to the textbook,” he admonishes developers “who,”
he said, “must compromise and come to terms with the natural and social
environment of the community.”
Thus, on the very eve of great celebrations to honour his 60-year rule, it
was most appropriate that the Secretary-General of the United Nations
visited His Majesty to bestow the United Nations Development Programme’s
“Life-time Achievement Award”.
We at the Pattaya Mail, the Pattaya Blatt and the Pattaya
Mail on TV reverently join the rest of the Kingdom and the
millions from overseas, in congratulating His Majesty on his stupendous
achievement: ruling justly for 60 years.
Long Live the King.
(The Pattaya Mail will present a full story on the week’s
activities in the next issue, Volume 14, # 24, 16 June 2006.)