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Happy Birthday His Majesty
King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great;
The World’s Longest-Reigning Monarch

 

Long Live The King!

The Chiang Mai Mail and the Pattaya Mail Media Group join the entire Kingdom in humbly extending our best wishes of loyalty and devotion to His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great, the World’s Longest-Reigning Monarch on the auspicious occasion of His 87th Birthday, December 5, 2014.
We present, sometimes repeated, oft quoted excerpts of the incredible life of our most gracious Father of the Thai Kingdom, written by our special correspondent Peter Cummins

Peter Cummins,
Special Correspondent,
Pattaya Mail Media
Photos Courtesy of the Royal Household

The Chiang Mai Mail and the Pattaya Mail Media Group join the entire Kingdom in humbly extending our best wishes of loyalty and devotion to His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great, the World’s Longest-Reigning Monarch on the auspicious occasion of His 87th Birthday, December 5, 2014.

We present here, on these pages, sometimes repeated, oft quoted excerpts of the incredible life of our most gracious Father of the Thai Kingdom, written by our special correspondent Peter Cummins.

Prologue

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 over the long years of his reign, culminating in this auspicious year of his 87 th  birthday.

Born on Monday, the fifth of December 1927, at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, Massachusetts, HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great reaches his eighty-seventh birthday, also celebrating sixty-eight years on the Thai Throne.

In his Coronation Oath, promulgated on the fifth of May 1950, the newly-crowned Rama the Ninth vowed that, “We will reign with righteousness for the benefit and happiness of the Siamese people,” and, in the almost seven decades which have passed since that auspicious day, the concept of “righteousness” has dominated his reign. In fact, HM 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.

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.

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.

As His Majesty reaches his eighty-seventh birthday this day, 5 December 2014, the Thai Nation celebrates again, in a thousand different ways, with every person from the youngest to the oldest renewing the pledge of loyalty and devotion to the beloved King who, during this year also celebrated his sixty-fourth year of marriage to HM Queen Sirikit.

Musical Tributes

There have been so many tributes to HM the King from all corners of the world over the past couple years, that here it is only possible to outline some of them.

One of the most pervasive has been in the form of Musical Tributes, not surprisingly, as His Majesty is an acknowledged composer of classical music and an exceptionally-talented jazz aficionado.

An Austrian ensemble who, despite never having worked together, recently succeeded in producing an album - the Royal Lullaby - that is faithful to the integrity and authenticity of the original pieces, and in the process created a musical repertoire of international calibre.

“It all started one December when we all met for the first time. I played for Her Majesty the Queen and was asked to include His Majesty’s Love In Spring in the programme. I didn’t know the music or what to expect so was very curious and I came here and just fell in love with the music,” said Austrian solo violinist Wolfgang David, one of the musicians who performed for the album.

The Royal Lullaby album also showcases the talents of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Swiss Conductor Emmanuel Siffert and local pianist Indhuon Srikaranonda. Revered Thai National Artist Prof Manrat Srikaranonda was also involved in the musical production.

Commissioned by Her Royal Highness Princess Galyani Vadhana, the album highlights 10 compositions that reveal HM the King’s musical ingenuity, including the well-known Lullaby and Summertime.

On HM the King’s compositions, David said, “The music is uplifting, which makes it very human. That’s why I love to play it because I also believe that music should lift people’s minds - it’s not just about having a good time for an hour in a concert.”

Craker acknowledged that while His Majesty the King is already a respected figure in the international community, these newly-arranged pieces will further enable Western audiences to enjoy the music.

Craker also noted that the album’s juxtaposition of classical and jazz compositions was quite unusual. “There are elements of Thai folk music in the melodies, but I think His Majesty is greatly knowledgeable on Western music and he has been able to embody all those styles and influences with his own concepts,” he added.

As an interpreter of the melodies, Chris Craker understood the responsibility that he had in communicating HM the King’s music to an international audience.

Another tribute to HM the King’s musical talents came from the Nagoya Philharmonic Orchestra which, during the annual Toyota Classics concert featured the internationally-acclaimed Nagoya Philharmonic Orchestra, under the baton of Tatsuya Shimono, showcasing two of HM’s musical masterpieces in its programme; namely Kwam Fun Un Soong Sood (A Dream Most Noble) and Paendin Kong Rau (Our Land).

HM the King is also well-known as a songwriter who has more than 40 published songs to his credit. Kwarm Fun Un Soong Sood, a symphonically-conceived piece, was written in 1971 and has since become one of HM’s most popular and loved compositions.

Yet another musical evening was held by the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra to celebrate His Majesty’s 69 th  birthday in 1996. The Orchestra performed a special concert under the baton of Hikotaro Yazaki, featuring soloist Pornphan Banternghansa on the piano, at the Thailand Cultural Centre.

The programme comprised Fanfare and Rhapsody for a Royal Celebration, a specially-composed piece for the celebration by UK composer Simon Wallace, which was followed by Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Opus 43 for Solo Piano, by Rachmaninoff, and concluded with Symphony No. 4 by Brahms.

An evening of HM the King’s music was led by Sasin Alumni Associations in a concert entitled “The Royal Composition of His Life Journey: The King and His Music” to celebrate the 60 th  anniversary of His Majesty the King’s accession to the throne.

During the presentation, the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra performed His Majesty’s compositions as arranged in an orchestral style by Rear Admiral ML Usni Pramoj, who was also the conductor.

HM the King - the World’s Longest Reigning Monarch

It was eight years ago, in 2006, on the occasion of the 60 th  anniversary of his accession to the Thai Throne, Their Majesties the King and Queen presided over splendid festivities as representatives of 25 royal houses from Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia had come to Bangkok to honour His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great.

The royal guests came from near and far to enjoy Thai hospitality and the friendship of the Thai Royal Family.

But - and, perhaps, more significantly - to honour this celebration, millions of people packed the areas around Bangkok’s Royal Plaza to hear HM the King deliver a rare public address in which he called for national unity.

“The responsibility to preserve the nation,” His Majesty reminded his subjects, “does not belong to any particular person but to all Thais who must do their utmost to develop the country and make it prosperous, stable and peaceful,” he said. “Therefore, I, as a Thai, have the same responsibility as all Thais do.”

In November 2006, Time Magazine honoured the King an ‘Asian Hero’ among 65 prominent figures so designated.

“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,” Time editorialized - “with Thailand descending into chaos, (HM) the King, armed only with his moral authority, intervened to end bloodshed.”

Elsewhere, His Majesty had 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 medallion is named in honour of the World Food Prize founder and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr Norman Borlaug.

“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.

The royal projects have benefited millions of people across Thailand, with a particular focus on aiding ethnic groups and hill tribes in mountainous regions.

“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 Quinn.

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.

At the same time, the United Nations Development Programme presented His Majesty the UNDP Human Development Lifetime Achievement Award “in recognition of the global relevance of his call for a sufficiency approach to development” (May, 2006).

More recently, 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.

Development for the People

HM the King established several 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 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 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 Sakon 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, HM 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 an excellent 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 development projects.

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

HM 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, HM 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 environment.

HM 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.

HM 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 Hilltribes’ 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 and vegetables.

Under the dynamic direction of HM the King’s close colleague, HRH Prince Bhisadej Rajani, who is the Director of the Projects, operating from his base at Chiang Mai University, there are currently four research stations and 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 HRH 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.

Epilogue

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 People.”

The world’s longest-reigning Monarch, this week celebrating his eighty-seventh birthday, continues to be, as he has been for the half-century 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.”

All of us at the Chiang Mai Mail and Pattaya Mail Publishing Company, including Pattaya Mail, Pattaya Blatt and Pattaya Mail TV, join the Kingdom in wishing His Majesty a most Happy Birthday, long life and our sincerest thanks for allowing a similar celebration of “Fathers’ Day 2014" throughout the Kingdom.

As a tribute to His Majesty, Pattaya Mail Media Group has published a special book titled, “His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great, The Legendary Royal Sailor” now available at the Chiang Mai Mail and Pattaya Mail offices.