Tuesday, December 4, 2007

King calls for unity, use of bio-fuels

BANGKOK: -- His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej on Tuesday called for national unity in a classic birthday-eve speech that covered a wide range of topics including global-warming, the wisdom of buying submarines and his reason for wearing a pink jacket recently.
In keeping with tradition, the king, who turns 80 on Wednesday, addressed a gathering of more than 23,000 well-wishers at Chitralada Palace to mark his birthday.
This year's speech began humourously, with the king admonishing his 2-year-old grandson Dipangkorn Rasmijoti - the son of Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn - for talking during the ceremony.

"He is like his father. He talks a lot," the King said of his grandson's interruptions.
The king used his recent hospitalization and difficulties walking to urge Thais to work together for the sake of the nation.

"My legs don't walk in union. I was saying the other day that the military and civilians need to be united. If we are not united, the country will face disaster,"
Thailand experienced a military coup on September 19, 2006, which overthrew elected prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, whom the generals accused of massive corruption, dividing the nation and threatening the monarchy.

After being under an appointed interim government for the past 15 months, Thailand is scheduled to hold a general election on December 23 to return power to the people.
Many fear that the country could be thrown back into political chaos if political parties loyal to Thaksin return to power, leading to yet another military coup.
Another worry for the future is the king's frail health. King Bhumibol was released from hospital November 7 after receiving treatment for nearly four weeks for insufficient blood flow to the brain.

But the king assured the nation that he was feeling well.
"Tomorrow I will be 80. I am still young and strong," he joked.
The king started a new fashion trend in Bangkok when he wore a pink jacket leaving the hospital "I'm already old. I don't want to dress like a bore," said the king of his flashy jackets.
Thais have been wearing yellow shirts since last year to show their love for their monarch, who was born on a Monday. Thais believe that each day has a lucky colour, such as yellow for Monday and red for Sunday.

On a serious note, King Bhumibol used his birthday eve speech to admonish the navy for recently expressing the wish to buy a submarine, noting that submarines were unsuitable for Thailand. The Gulf of Thailand is a notoriously shallow body of water.

The king, known for his sufficiency-economy theories, also encouraged the manufacture of bio-fuel from palm oil, which can be grown domestically, to reduce dependency on imported oil.
King Bhumibol has been the one constant in Thai politics for the past six decades of military coups, fractious civilian governments and the wholly new phenomenon of a populist regime under Thaksin, a billionaire businessman, from 2001 to 2006.

The king, who ascended to the throne in 1946 at a time when the monarchy had lost much of its majesty, has restored the institution as one of the key pillars of Thai society and political stability by a demonstrated devotion to his people, especially the poor, in thousands of royally sponsored development projects.
At times of past political crisis, the king has stepped in to offer counsel, leading to peaceful resolutions.

"Without his majesty's guiding hand, we would not be where we are today: a nation which has invariably demonstrated its inner strength, political resilience, social harmony and economic dynamism - a trait which has enabled the Thais to survive many a threat and misfortune in their long history," former Thai prime minister Anand Panyarachun said in a recent speech.

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