A shining example to all peoples of the Kingdom and the world
By Peter Cummins, Special Correspondent, Chiang Mai Mail
Photos: Courtesy of the Bureau of the Royal Household
It is very difficult to encapsulate the incredible
achievements of our beloved King in this short article. The writer, rather,
has highlighted just some of the events, honours and accolades which have
been dedicated to His Majesty, particularly in this auspicious year of his
Born on Monday, the fifth of December, 1927 at Mount
Auburn Hospital, Cambridge, Massachusetts, HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej the
Great reaches his eighty-first birthday just two years after celebrating
sixty years on the Thai Throne.
As the Thai people - and, in fact, people all around
the world - honour this year’s anniversary of the birth of the world’s
longest-reigning Monarch, the Chiang Mai Mail presents this
supplement, prepared by special correspondent Peter Cummins, as a “Happy
Birthday” tribute to our beloved King.
In his Coronation Oath, promulgated on the fifth of May
1950, the newly-crowned King Rama the Ninth vowed that, “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, HM the King has,
throughout his more than six decades of rule, 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. The Buddhist scriptures also define the genesis of the
universe and the progression of evils which befall mankind: greed, stealing
and lying and the inevitable repercussions of censure and punishment.
Our King has steadfastly reigned by these principles,
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.
There will inevitably be some familiar material in
parts of this story, for HM the King’s development projects have been
ongoing for more than 50 years and there is, of course, a historical
perspective which has been incorporated.
On July 23, 2007 His Majesty the King granted an
audience to Robert D. Ray, the former governor of Iowa, USA, and
accompanying members of his group, to receive the first ever Dr. Norman E.
Borlaug Medallion, awarded by the World Food Prize Foundation.
the Thai Throne
His Majesty the King was pronounced successor to the
throne in June 1946. After four years of studying in Europe, he returned to
Thailand and was crowned during an elaborate and highly intricate ceremony.
On April 28, 1950, a week before his coronation, H.M.
King Bhumibol and Mom Rajawongse Sirikit Kitayakara were married. Following
the coronation HM the King returned to Switzerland to continue studying.
The Coronation Ceremony reinforces the stature of the
Kings of Thailand. The first such elaborate ceremony was performed when Pho
Khun Phamuang succeeded Pho Khun Bangklangthao as the ruling King of Muang
Sukhothai. Phaya Lithai, a former leader in Sukhothai, left a historical
record in stone describing the coronation ceremony in Sukhothai at Wat
In the beginning of the Ratanakosin era, the first King
in the Chakri Dynasty (King Buddha Yot Fa Chulalokmaharach) took the title
of Rama I and moved the capital of Siam from Thonburi to the opposite bank
of the Chao Phraya River, and constructed Krung Ratanakosin (Bangkok). In
the process of building the Royal Palace and Wat Prakaew (Temple of the
Emerald Buddha), the first King in the House of Chakri refined the
coronation ceremony, establishing important protocol that has lasted to this
The annual commemoration of the coronation ceremony is
a three-day affair, starting with a ritual “tham bun” ceremony on May 3 to
honour the King’s ancestors. Later on the first day, another ceremony is
performed, whereby flags of honour are issued to distinguish various
HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej calls for the new
government to make peace its priority during a swearing-in ceremony at
Chitralada Palace in Bangkok Monday, Dec. 22, 2008. Prime Minister Abhisit
Vejjajiva, standing front row, and his cabinet members listen intently.
The following day, Buddhist ceremonies continue with
chanting rituals, prayers and Brahman priests announce the auspicious
occasion of the next day (May 5).
On May 5, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great
(Rama IX) conducts a merit-making ceremony, presenting offerings to Buddhist
monks, and leads a “Wien Thien” ceremony, walking three times around the
sacred grounds at the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.
In the evening HM the King conducts another sacred
ceremony: changing the yellow cloth on the Emerald Buddha, the guardian
symbol protecting the Thai people, which was transferred from Thonburi to
Wat Phra Kaew by King Rama I.
Many rooms in the Royal Palace are opened for public
viewing on Coronation Day. Auspicious ceremonies are performed and displays
depicting royal achievements are exhibited to reconfirm the King’s stature.
On February 21, 2007, His Majesty the King was
presented an honorary doctorate degree in civil law by the former
Vice-Chancellor of the University of Durham, U.K., Sir Kenneth Calman, at
the Chitrlada Throne, Dusit Royal Palace.
Attentive to Royal Duties
His Majesty the King continued to have many official
duties over the past years, culminating in an abundance of official
functions two years ago to commemorate his Diamond Jubilee on the Thai
Throne, continuing right through to this year, up to his 82nd birthday.
One of his many functions during this period was to
open the new Rama VIII Bridge - the 475-metre long cable-stay bridge which
the King had planned since July 1996, having it constructed to commemorate
King Ananda Mahidol, Rama the Eighth.
HM King Bhumibol introduced a number of aesthetic
designs based upon the former King’s royal seal. As in all of His ideas, the
new bridge was designed and built to have the least possible effect on the
fragile environment of the Chao Phraya River, the riverbanks and the
surrounding river approaches.
After the official opening, the City of Bangkok
presented His Majesty with a 24K gold model of the bridge, and a gold plate
with the bridge engraved upon it to HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn who
accompanied HM the King at the opening.
On February 8, 2007, His Majesty the King
granted an audience to David Rockefeller, the honorary chairman of
Rockefeller University and his guests at Chitrlada Throne, Dusit Royal Place
during their visit to Thailand.
Over the years, the King has established five 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 re-forestation, 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 self-supporting.
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 de-forestation, 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
salinization 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
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 is in doubt, HM the King will fly over a
particular area, armed with aerial photographs and maps of the terrain,
noting features as they pass underneath. But, being a good photographer
himself, he also takes his own pictures and later juxtaposes them over the
charts to obtain a detailed image of the area of his concern which helps in
his planning of specific development projects.
Throughout the more than six decades that HM the King
has ruled Thailand, not only Thais, but people around the world have become
accustomed to seeing His Majesty travelling to remote areas of the country.
He works with - and brings rational development to - even the poorest and
most disadvantage groups. He is often filmed leading officials, farmers and
many diverse groups up rough mountain trails, over bridges, punting along in
small sampans, to initiate sustainable projects and ideas, aimed at helping
the many who have been forgotten or left behind in the development process.
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
HM the King’s
His Majesty the King has stated his opinion on
countless matters over the years. These royal words of wisdom reflect his
great sensitivity to the needs of his people and their problems and his
down-to-earth approach to problem-solving.
Herewith are some excerpts on His Majesty’s ideals:
I shall reign with righteousness for the happiness and
benefit of the Siamese people, was his promise 60 years ago.
Majesty the King graciously presided over the rededication ceremonies of the
renovated Giant Swing in front of City Hall in Bangkok on September 12, 2007
To achieve desired results that are also beneficial and
morally just, you need more than just knowledge: You need honesty,
sincerity, and justice. Knowledge is like an engine that propels a vehicle.
Moral principles are the steering wheel or rudder that leads the vehicle
safely in the right direction.
Knowledge helps you to understand religion on a broad
basis; religion helps you understand knowledge in depth. Therefore knowledge
and religion have to go hand-in-hand; they are both essential to life.
Whoever possesses both knowledge and religion shall achieve success in life
without fail, because they can analyse everything in detail and a rational
Academic subjects that you are constantly being tested
for, do not alone account for your survival and will not create benefit for
yourself, for others, or for the country. Those with knowledge also need
other additional qualifications to bring themselves and the nation to
survival and prosperity.
The necessary qualifications are a tender conscience,
honesty in thought and deed, loyalty to the nation and your patrons,
selflessness and not taking advantage of others, sincerity and meaning well
to others, generosity as benefiting your status and position, and most
importantly, perseverance. Practice doing projects on your own both big and
small, simple and complicated, with determination, without sloth,
carelessness, or vulgarity.
When you want to study anything in depth, you have to
study it from every conceivable angle, not only in part, or become fixated
on a particular aspect. Secondly, what you must also do is consider the
subject with an unbiased and unwavering heart. Do not let the dark influence
of prejudice misguide you, whether it is prejudice in favour of, or against,
the matter. Otherwise, the knowledge which is gained will not be true
knowledge, but knowledge that is a mere illusion, or misleading. It cannot
be applied to create benefit without incurring negative results.
When you have clearly analysed the issue with a heart
that is unbiased, then only will true understanding arise, leading to a just
decision and action. You must set your mind to be objective, not allowing
any prejudice to prevail. Let your heart be led by truth and justice, based
on reason and morality.
Knowledge, intelligence, and efficient equipment, alone
cannot help us create total prosperity and stability for the country. To do
so we need one other element, that is unity, or cooperation, so that we can
use that knowledge, intellect and equipment to create true prosperity as
Accolades Pour In
The King has been named an ‘Asian Hero’ among 65
prominent figures designated by Time Magazine as “Asian Heroes”.
“The King’s stewardship has been so masterful that in
times of crisis, Thais invariably turn to one man: (HM) King Bhumibol,”
writes the article published in the magazine’s Nov 13, 2006 issue.
“On two occasions - October 1973 and May 1992 - with
Thailand descending into chaos, (HM) the King, armed only with his moral
authority, intervened to end blood-shed,” it said.
Elsewhere, His Majesty has been named the first
recipient of the Norman E Borlaug World Food Prize Medallion in recognition
of His Majesty’s outstanding humanitarian service in alleviating starvation
and poverty, presented by the World Food Prize Foundation on July 23, 2007.
The award, introduced for the first time in 2007 as a
special commemoration of the World Food Prize’s 21st anniversary,
is a special honour for individuals who have provided exceptional
humanitarian service in reducing hunger and poverty.
The medallion is named in honour of the World Food
Prize founder and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr Norman Borlaug.
HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej lights candles on His
lotus shaped krathong watched by Her Majesty the Queen and HRH Prince
Vajiralongkorn during the Loy Krathong festival at Siriraj Hospital in
Bangkok on November 2, 2009.
“Since his accession to the throne in 1946, (HM) King
Bhumibol Adulyadej has displayed a deep concern that the Thai people have
sufficient food and proper nutrition,” said Ambassador Kenneth M Quinn,
president of the World Food Prize Foundation.
“His Majesty’s commitment to his subjects has been
reflected in the more than 2,000 royal projects he has established
throughout the country, the first of which was initiated in 1952,” he said.
The projects include efforts to promote small-scale
agriculture, the introduction of new agriculture technologies and the
sustainable use of water.
HM the King was also lauded by Kofi Anan, then
Secretary-General of the United Nations, as the “Development King”,
acknowledging his dedication to promote child health, combat iodine
deficiency and increase access to education. And three years ago, His
Majesty the King received the UNDP Human Development Lifetime Achievement
Award in recognition of the global relevance of his call for a sufficiency
approach to development, presented by United Nations Development Programme
on 26 May 2006.
Royal projects have benefited million of people across
Thailand, with a particular focus on aiding ethnic groups and hill tribes in
“Dr Borlaug tells of his visits to Thailand and the
time he spent meeting with His Majesty and walking through the countryside
with him as they discussed possible new approaches to agriculture,” said Mr
A different type of honour was forthcoming when several
hundred thousand people took part in a walkathon on the new
cable-stayed bridge, an event organized by the Transport Ministry to mark
His Majesty the King’s 60 years on the throne.
The Republic of Korea’s Korea Invention Promotion
Association, or KIPA, presented a Special Prize in honour of His Majesty,
who is recognized as the “Father of Thai Invention.” This organization
promotes intellectual property and expands patent management support.
The Budapest-based International Federation of
Inventors’ Association (IFIA) presented the IFIA Cup 2007 for His Majesty’s
Chai Pattana wheel used to treat water. The IFIA also presented its Genius
Medal prize to honour His Majesty’s Self-Sufficiency Philosophy, and his New
Theory, which revives farming techniques based on Thai wisdom focusing on
minimal use of resources but aiming for higher agricultural productivity.
IFIA has decided to designate February 2 International
Inventor’s Day in honour of His Majesty the King, whose patent for the Chai
Pattana Aerator was granted on 2 February 1993 by the Department of
Intellectual Property, Ministry of Commerce of Thailand. Two years later,
the Cabinet approved the proclamation of February 2 each year as National
Inventor’s Day, when activities are organized to celebrate this event.
Thailand hosted the first International Inventor’s Day
Convention from February 2 to 5 2008, in commemoration of His Majesty the
King’s 80th Birthday Anniversary, 5 December 2007. His Majesty is the first
member of the Thai Royal Family to be granted a patent for an invention.
As one would expect from a Monarch defined as
“Mahasammata”, or a “King of Righteousness”, by all the people and who, upon
his accession to the Throne in 1950, embraced the “Tenfold Moral principles
of the Sovereign”, His Majesty has ruled quietly and without ostentation.
Starting very early in his reign and continuing to this
day, HM the King, usually accompanied by HM the Queen and second daughter
HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, travelled to the far corners of the
Kingdom to learn first-hand from the farmers and peoples of the rural areas
about their problems.
Again, as with all his other interests, the Monarch
studies, observes, photographs and imbues himself with all the relevant
knowledge and facts that he needs to move forward with recommendations,
implementation of beneficial projects and follow-up.
The Thai Monarch is probably best known, universally,
for his unbending resolve to improve the lives of each and every one of his
people - a singular dedication to their welfare which has been acclaimed
from all corners of the world.
A lasting image of HM the King is that of a man, often
kneeling or sitting on the ground, poring over charts and topographical maps
of the area, while surrounded by local farmers and villagers discussing
It has been recorded that HM the King has spent more
than 200 days per year, for more than three decades, in rural areas where he
has initiated some 2,000 projects aimed solely at improving the well-being
of his people.
Thus, through the illustrious decades of his rule, HM
the King has been the very embodiment of his “Oath of Accession” that “We
will reign with Righteousness for the Benefit and Happiness of the Siamese
The world’s longest-reigning Monarch, this week
celebrating his eighty-second birthday, and now sixty-three years on the
Thai Throne, continues to be, as he has been for the six decades of his just
reign, “The light of his land, the pride of his people and a shining example
to all peoples of a troubled world.”
It was during a visit to New York, as a young King,
accompanied by his stunning bride, Queen Sirikit, that HM the King’s words
were prophetic. Addressing a committee of the Metropolitan Museum in 1967,
HM the King said: “Our world today is full of propaganda. Therefore, before
we believe anything, we should first look closely at the underlying reasons.
The Lord Buddha taught people to use their consciousness and intelligence to
study, seek and consider whether His teachings were the truth that is
believable rather than to believe (simply) because someone has enacted it.”
All of us at the Chiang Mai Mail join people
throughout the Kingdom of Thailand in extending our humblest best wishes to
His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great for a most happy 82nd