Published : 2013-12-08 19:46
Updated : 2013-12-08 19:46
Political turmoil back home overshadowed Thai Ambassador to South Korea Kittiphong na Ranong’s celebration this year of the 86th birthday of King Bhumibol Adulyadej in Seoul on Tuesday.
The monarch’s birthday is also Thailand’s National Day, which is celebrated in Thailand on Dec. 5.
But the king has suffered from poor health for years. It is health could have a huge impact on the outcome of the current crisis, and the current political strife in Thailand was on everyone’s mind at the reception.
The king’s declining health is a source of concern because his presence is a major force of stability and calm in an increasingly divisive country that has experienced political violence since 2006, according to Thailand watchers.
King Bhumibol is both the world’s longest reigning monarch and the wealthiest. Bhumibol has reigned over the Southeast Asian nation since 1946, and is still regarded with sincere reverence by its citizens. Forbes’ annual “World’s Richest Royals” survey placed the octogenarian at No. 1, with an estimated fortune of $30 billion in 2011.
His son and heir apparent, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, has called for political divisions to be resolved through dialogue.
Suthep Thaugsuban, protest leader and former deputy prime minister in the 2008 to 2011 period of military-backed government, rejected the possibility of negotiations with the government. He has called for the ouster of elected Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, and for the government to be replaced by an unelected “People’s Council.”